Posted by Ingmar ‘doskop’ Steen under HiTB 2016 CTF with tag(s) CTF


It appears this system holds a secret recipe from top chef Jamie, but it can only beaccessed by himself. Can you find a way to get to it?

No bruteforcing is required.

Download the web app’s source here.


Another web challenge based on the Phalcon framework (just like last year’s teaser SATCOM).

Let’s see what we’ve got. We are presented with a log-in screen, so let’s try to log in. Click the forgot password link and you’re presented with a hint that the administrator dave can create a login token for you. Let’s see what we can find.

If you look at the source of the login page, you’ll see this comment:

<!-- release-1.02.tgz -->

That looks like the filename of the latest release tarball of the the web application. Let’s see if we can download it. Again, look in the source of the login page and you’ll notice this CSS include:

<link href="/media/view/style.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"/>

If you open that link, you’ll see it starts with a header that contains the current time so it’s probably dynamically generated. Try to use that to get the mysterious release-1.02.tgz file:

You’ll get an error message that you need to be authenticated. But that’s what we’re trying to crack. Let’s see how well-protected this particular view is:

curl -H"Authenticated: yes"

Silly but conveniently, we now have the source in the form of a tarball. Except that it starts we a text header, so remove that before extracting it (don’t use nano, it’ll end up destroying the file because it tries to fix carriage returns or line feeds).


Ok, so let’s look for that authentication token generator. Don’t look too hard, it’s in www/app/util/user/AccessTokenHelper.php:


namespace hitb\util\user;

class AccessTokenHelper
     * Very very safe token generation.
     * @param $user
     * @return string
    public static function getAccessTokenForUser($user) {
        $data = base64_encode($user->uid . strrev($user->uid));
        $res = '';
        for ($i = 0; $i < strlen($data); $i++){
            $res .= dechex(ord($data[$i]));
        return $res;

Very very safe token generation indeed. Concatenate the login name with its reverse, base64 encode that and turn each byte of the result in a hexadecimal representation. Let’s use pwnypack to generate a token for the user dave:

def make_token(uid):
    return enhex(enb64(uid + uid[::-1]))

Ok, now log in using the username dave and the generated token. We’re now one step closer but unfortunately Dave doesn’t have a high enough access level to read the secret recipe. Only Jamie does. And that level is so high, that you can’t login using the password reset / token method (from www/app/core/security/DefaultAuthenticationService.php):

// Our moderator can allow employees to login using an access token
if ($user->guest != 1 &&
    $user->level < 10 &&
    $user->reset = 1 &&
    $pwd == AccessTokenHelper::getAccessTokenForUser($user)) {
    return $user;

So what can we do? Well, as it turns out, we can create guest users which always have a level of 1. However, the updateGuestUser function in www/app/facades/user/DefaultUserFacade.php that is used to update the properties of a guest doesn’t check what properties are set because the convertExisting converter in www/app/facades/user/converter/UserConverter.php just copies all properties from the new user to the existing one. And even better, updateGuestUser in www/app/storefront/controllers/UserController.php doesn’t do any checks either because createData just copies all data from the form which is created from the posted data and calls the user facade’s updateGuestUser function. That UserForm class, contains all the properties of the guest user class: uid, level, reset and restaurant. Long story short: The update profile function allows us to set any property of the guest user.

So how do we use this? Create a guest user and use it to log in. Then, go to the update guest profile link (/user/update), manipulate the form to include the level field and set it to 10. Then submit the form. You can of course also use curl (get the session id from the browser):

curl -XPOST -bPHPSESSID=blablabla -dlevel=10

Now, go to the recipe page and you’ll find your flag!