Google CTF Quals 2017 - Food

| Toshi Piazza

This writeup is for the “Food” challenge found in Google CTF Quals 2017, from the reversing category. This writeup and others were also submitted to the Google CTF Writeup Competition.

JNI-Native Reversing

We are only given a food.apk, and from there we immediately unzip it and run dex2jar, followed by jd-gui to view the source code. Fortunately, the source is very succinct:

Although I’m not well versed in Android development, it looks like it’s loading a library from either one of lib/{armeabi,x86}. We turn our attention to the arm library, and symbolize it using a script we found here. This resolves certain awkward indirect function calls that otherwise would appear as unnamed constant offsets into the JNI struct (e.g. JNI_FindClass).

The bizarre disassembly in JNI_Onload seems to indicate that all useful strings have been encrypted, and are only decrypted at runtime. One such example of this is shown below:


Note that decrypt_string here, as we learn later is a variadic function with the following signature: char *decrypt_string(int a1, ...). We implement the decrypt_string function in python so that we can determine all the strings used by the application:

We can now resolve many important strings which are passed as arguments to fopen and fwrite, shown below, as well as to later JNI runtime functions.

Unfortunately, binwalk doesn’t recognize dex files, but clearly we’re writing an embedded dex file to the location /data/data/, which we can dump from the binary with IDA.

Before we analyze this dex file, we continue reversing the JNI_Onload routine, to discover a particularly scary routine which parses /proc/self/maps and patches itself at runtime, a little later on.

At a high level, it reads /proc/self/maps until it finds the base address of /d.dex, and looks for the magic header, dex\n0. It then proceeds to patch the JVM bytecode at runtime with a sinister binary string of length 0x90 that’s xor’d with 0x5a. This d.dex, we presume is the same d.dex file we dumped from earlier.

We go to offset 0x720 of the d.dex file, to discover what appears to be 0x90 bytes of jvm-bytecode nops. We patch in the unxor’d content into the dex file using IDA r2, and decompile it in much the same way we did with classes.dex.

Reversing d.dex

Unfortunately the files were a bit large, but we note the following routines in

In the unpatched d.dex, cc() was originally nopped to thwart static analysis. sets up a view in which one can request foods in a particular order, by pressing the corresponding buttons. onRecieve() will take the indices of each order and save it in this.k, and once all 8 have been entered cc() xors k with arrayOfBytes, and compares it to a new string.

Once we’ve figured out the right k, we will be given the flag. We can figure out this k with the following python code:

To save some time, we can construct a simple class, and simply importℝ (since we couldn’t get any of this to run in an android emulator).

This spits out the flag, CTF{bacon_lettuce_tomato_lobster_soul}