Lag'n'Crash CTF: Imagery

March 15, 2021

Challenge Overview

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This challenge is under the Web category.

Hey I found this cool website. I wonder if they actually hide smth on the website.


On the webpage, we are presented with:

image of rick roll and nothing else

And nothing else. Here’s the full source:

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <!-- main.py -->
      .image {
        display: block;
        max-width: 300px;
        margin: 0 auto;
      <img class="image" src="/file?name=img/image.jpg">


This challenge attempts to demonstrate the unsafe nature of using regular expressions to filter user inputs. Furthermore, it is unsafe to use user inputs directly in shell commands. In practice, it is a good idea never to write your own code to filter user inputs. Retrieving files based on a user’s input can be delegated to a cloud service (e.g. AWS buckets) or delegated to a reverse proxy (e.g. NGINX).

The web page’s source code shows that the image shown is retrieved by a suspicious url: http://challenge1.lagncrash.com:18675/file?name=image.png.

There is also mention of a main.py as a HTML comment. Navigating to http://challenge1.lagncrash.com:18675/file?name=main.py, we get the following source code:

from fastapi import FastAPI, HTTPException, Request
from fastapi.responses import HTMLResponse, Response
from user_agents import parse
from os import path
import re
import subprocess

app = FastAPI()

def check_request(request):
    user_agent = None
    for header in request['headers']:
        if header[0] == b'user-agent':
            user_agent = header[1].decode()

    if not user_agent:
        return False
    user_agent = parse(user_agent)
    if user_agent.is_bot:
        return False
    return True

@app.get('/', response_class=HTMLResponse)
async def index(request: Request):
    if not check_request(request):
        raise HTTPException(400, 'Malicious request received!')

    with open('index.html', 'r') as file:
        html = file.read()
        return HTMLResponse(html)

allowed_chars = re.compile(r'^[a-zA-Z0-9\?/\.]*$')
def check_malicious_filename(name):
    if not allowed_chars.match(name):
        return True

    if 'etc' in name or 'tmp' in name or 'flag.txt' in name:
        return True
    return path.isabs(name)

async def get_file(request: Request, name='main.py'):
    if not check_request(request):
        raise HTTPException(400, 'Malicious request received!')

    if check_malicious_filename(name):
        raise HTTPException(400, 'Malicious request received')
        process = subprocess.check_output(['/bin/bash',"-c", "cat " + name])
    except subprocess.CalledProcessError:
        raise HTTPException(400, 'Malicious request received')

    return Response(process)

In particular, notice that the request is filtered by:

allowed_chars = re.compile(r'^[a-zA-Z0-9\?/\.]*$')
# ...
    if 'etc' in name or 'tmp' in name or 'flag.txt' in name:

This means that any alphanumeric character and ?./ are accepted. The file name must not contain flag.txt as well. We have to find a way to get flag.txt without typing it out. We can do so using ?:


And we get the flag LNC{R3T4ArD_IM4G3S}.

? matches one of any character and is part of the globbing utilities provided by bash, aside from * (match any multiple times) and also [] (match one listed in the brackets).

You can find a list of other common command injection payloads here.

Written by Joel Tio who develops anything he finds interesting and tries to fit math into them. Check out the home page or his GitHub!

© 2023, Joel Tio