Security Corner

Oct 8 2009   2:18AM GMT

Hacking Skills Challenge – Level 6

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

Well, slow security news week, so let’s tackle the next hacking skills challenge level. So far, we’ve explored the first 5 basic missions at At each new level, the difficulty increases. At level 6, we’re dealing with a bit of cryptography. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a PhD to figure it out; it’s a pretty simple algorithm. The encryption table is publicly available. Here’s the challenge:

An encryption system has been set up, which uses an unknown algorithm to change the text given. Requirements: Persistence, some general cryptography knowledge.

Network Security Sam has encrypted his password. The encryption system is publically available…

You have recovered his encrypted password. It is: bc8g76g<

Your recovered password will be different, but the algorithm to solve it will be the same.

There’s a form where you can enter a text string and have it encrypted by the algorithm used, so that’s a good place to start to solve the cipher. My first attempt was to enter the encrypted password and see what I got back out of the algorithm. The output was bd:j;;mC. Clearly, this is shifting algorithm of some sort, with the first position, position 0, remaining unchanged. I went ahead and tried the ROT(n) algorithms, even though they don’t usually deal with numbers. No joy there. But a good look at the output might indicate a successive addition pattern: the first postion is 0, so the letter remains the same; the second position, 1, increments to the next letter. Reversing the pattern would yield 0, -1, -2, etc.

The presence of symbols suggests the ASCII symbol set and this is what works out to be the solution. Get an ASCII table. For each character position, count backwards from the letter in the password the number of places corresponding to the position number. So, for b, count back 0, for c, count back 1, for 8, count back 2, etc. This will give you bb6d31a5 which is the original password.

Mission accomplished!

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