input-validation - Dave's Blog


Stripe CTF - Level 5

2012 Sep 11, 5:00

Level 5 of the Stripe CTF revolved around a design issue in an OpenID like protocol.


    def authenticated?(body)
body =~ /[^\w]AUTHENTICATED[^\w]*$/


if authenticated?(body)
session[:auth_user] = username
session[:auth_host] = host
return "Remote server responded with: #{body}." \
" Authenticated as #{username}@#{host}!"


This level is an implementation of a federated identity protocol. You give it an endpoint URI and a username and password, it posts the username and password to the endpoint URI, and if the response is 'AUTHENTICATED' then access is allowed. It is easy to be authenticated on a server you control, but this level requires you to authenticate from the server running the level. This level only talks to stripe CTF servers so the first step is to upload a document to the level 2 server containing the text 'AUTHENTICATED' and we can now authenticate on a level 2 server. Notice that the level 5 server will dump out the content of the endpoint URI and that the regexp it uses to detect the text 'AUTHENTICATED' can match on that dump. Accordingly I uploaded an authenticated file to
Using that as my endpoint URI means authenticating as level 2. I can then choose the following endpoint URI to authenticate as level 5.
Navigating to that URI results in the level 5 server telling me I'm authenticated as level 2 and lists the text of the level 2 file 'AUTHENTICATED'. Feeding this back into the level 5 server as my endpoint URI means level 5 seeing 'AUTHENTICATED' coming back from a level 5 URI.


I didn't see any particular code review red flags, really the issue here is that the regular expression testing for 'AUTHENTICATED' is too permisive and the protocol itself doesn't do enough. The protocol requires only a set piece of common literal text to be returned which makes it easy for a server to accidentally fall into authenticating. Having the endpoint URI have to return variable text based on the input would make it much harder for a server to accidentally authenticate.

PermalinkCommentsinternet openid security stripe-ctf technical web

Stripe CTF - Input validation (Levels 1 & 2)

2012 Sep 6, 5:00

Stripe's web security CTF's Level 1 and level 2 of the Stripe CTF had issues with missing input validation solutions described below.

Level 1


          $filename = 'secret-combination.txt';
if (isset($attempt)) {
$combination = trim(file_get_contents($filename));
if ($attempt === $combination) {


The issue here is the usage of the extract php method which extracts name value pairs from the map input parameter and creates corresponding local variables. However this code uses $_GET which contains a map of name value pairs passed in the query of the URI. The expected behavior is to get an attempt variable out, but since no input validation is done I can provide a filename variable and overwrite the value of $filename. Providing an empty string gives an empty string $combination which I can match with an empty string $attempt. So without knowing the combination I can get past the combination check.


Code review red flag in this case was the direct use of $_GET with no validation. Instead of using extract the developer could try to extract specifically the attempt variable manually without using extract.

Level 2


    $dest_dir = "uploads/";
$dest = $dest_dir . basename($_FILES["dispic"]["name"]);
$src = $_FILES["dispic"]["tmp_name"];
if (move_uploaded_file($src, $dest)) {
$_SESSION["dispic_url"] = $dest;
chmod($dest, 0644);
echo "

Successfully uploaded your display picture.



This code accepts POST uploads of images but with no validation to ensure it is not an arbitrary file. And even though it uses chmod to ensure the file is not executable, things like PHP don't require a file to be executable in order to run them. Accordingly, one can upload a PHP script, then navigate to that script to run it. My PHP script dumped out the contents of the file we're interested in for this level:


Code review red flags include manual file management, chmod, and use of file and filename inputs without any kind of validation. If this code controlled the filename and ensured that the extension was one of a set of image extensions, this would solve this issue. Due to browser mime sniffing its additionally a good idea to serve a content-type that starts with "image/" for these uploads to ensure browsers treat these as images and not sniff for script or HTML.

PermalinkCommentsinput-validation php security technical
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