CTF Team at the University of British Columbia

# [UTCTF 2022] Failed Hash Function

13 Mar 2022 by Robert Xiao

## Problem Description

### Failed Hash Function

• Solves: 35
• Score: 974
• Tags: cryptography

I made this keyed hash function for my final project, but I got a 0… Apparently, there’s too many collisions and you can recover the key after one hash. I don’t believe it. In fact, if you can break my hash function 100 times, I’ll give you a flag! I’ll even be nice – you get two whole guesses to find the key. By oops (@oops on discord)

nc misc1.utctf.live 5000

Attachments: main.py

## Introduction

We’re given a Python script that implements a keyed “hash” function. The hash function uses a random pair of bytes k1 and k2 as a key. The core of the hash function is as follows:

def trailing(x):
a = 0
for _ in range(15):
if x & 1:
break
x >>= 1
a += 1
return a

def print_hash(k1, k2, s):
for x in s:
for y in s:
print(hex(trailing((k1 ^ x) * (k2 ^ y)))[2:], end='')
print()


trailing computes the number of trailing 0 bits in the number, e.g. trailing(0b10100) == 2. Thus, an n byte produces n*n hex digits of “hash”.

The problem itself is to pass 100 challenge rounds consecutively. In each round, a random 2-byte key is generated, and you’re allowed to hash two 16-byte strings, after which you need to guess the key. The key has to be guessed correctly in all 100 rounds to get the flag.

## Solution

This is really more of a math problem than a cryptography problem. The first thing to observe is that trailing(x * y) == trailing(x) + trailing(y) (unless x or y is zero, in which case the output is 15), and so the hash function is really showing trailing(k1 ^ x) + trailing(k2 ^ y) for every combination of bytes x and y of the input.

We can get a lot of information if our first input consists of 16 bytes with the same upper 4 bits and all combinations of lower 4 bits, e.g. 0x40, 0x41, 0x42, …, 0x4F (@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO). Consider what happens with any byte y such that k2 ^ y is odd, meaning that trailing(k2 ^ y) == 0 (exactly 8 bytes in the input have this property).

Over all possible combinations of bytes x in the input, exactly one will have (x & 0xf) == (k1 & 0xf), meaning that trailing(k1 ^ x) will be at least 4 (for all other x, trailing(k1 ^ x) < 4). Furthermore, trailing(k1 ^ x) == 4 if the 0x10 bit is set in k1, and trailing(k1 ^ x) > 4 if the 0x10 bit is clear in k1. This therefore immediately reveals the low 5 bits of k1. A symmetric argument proves that we also get the low 5 bits of k2.

Thus, with a single input, we know for certain 10 of the 16 bits of the key. To get the remaining bits, we can submit an input like this:

[(i << 5) + (k1 % 32) for i in range(8)] + [(i << 5) + (k2 % 32) for i in range(8)]

That is, the input consists of the 8 bytes that share the same low 5 bits as k1, and the 8 bytes that have the same low 5 bits as k2. Note that exactly one input from the left half will actually be equal to k1, and one input on the right half will be equal to k2. Whenever k1 ^ x == 0 or k2 ^ y == 0, the hash output from trailing will be 15 (f), making it very easy to work out the exact values of k1 and k2 by looking for the input bytes which result in all fs in the output.

Using this strategy is guaranteed to win in every case. My implementation uses a little bit less logic - it just bruteforces all k1, k2 which could produce the target hash, but this is good enough for this challenge.

import sys, os
from pwn import *
import itertools

def trailing(x):
a = 0
for _ in range(15):
if x & 1:
break
x >>= 1
a += 1
return a

def print_hash(k1, k2, s):
for x in s:
for y in s:
yield trailing((k1 ^ x) * (k2 ^ y))

def check(msg, result, poss=None):
want = [int(c, 16) for c in result]
if poss is None:
poss = itertools.product(range(256), repeat=2)

for k1, k2 in poss:
for i, n in enumerate(print_hash(k1, k2, msg)):
if n != want[i]:
break
else:
yield (k1, k2)

s = remote('misc1.utctf.live', 5000)
for chid in range(1, 101):
s.recvuntil(b'Challenge %d' % (chid))
s.recvuntil(b'Enter 16 bytes to hash! You only get two tries ;)\n')
msg = b'@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO'
s.send(msg)
res = s.recvline().strip().decode()
log.info("%s -> %s", msg, res)
poss = list(check(msg, res))
if not poss:
raise ValueError("impossible!")

k1, k2 = poss[0]
s.recvuntil(b'Enter 16 bytes to hash! Last chance...\n')
msg = bytearray([(i << 5) + (k1 % 32) for i in range(8)]) + bytearray([(i << 5) + (k2 % 32) for i in range(8)])
s.send(msg)
res = s.recvline().strip().decode()
log.info("%s -> %s", msg, res)
nposs = list(check(msg, res, poss))
assert len(nposs) == 1, "bad nposs: %s" % nposs

k1, k2 = nposs[0]
s.recvuntil(b"k1:\n")
s.sendline(str(k1).encode())
s.recvuntil(b"k2:\n")
s.sendline(str(k2).encode())

s.interactive()


This produces the flag after 100 rounds: utflag{Ju5t_u53_SHA256_LoLc4t5_9a114be7f}