Google Beginner CTF: ReadySetAction

SPOILER WARNING: Go play the CTF at first

The challenge was a short python script with the following code:

from Crypto.Util.number import *

flag = b"REDACTED"

p = getPrime(1024)
q = getPrime(1024)
n = p*q

m = bytes_to_long(flag)

c = pow(m,3,n)

#154780 ... 6709
#210348 ... 4477
#(i removed both 617 digit long numbers here)

It was immediatly obvious to me that this has to do with RSA cryptography because it multiplies large primes and then does some powmod magic. Because I didn’t remember exactly how RSA worked, I quickly read the Wikipedia article again - specifically section 4.1 Attacks against plain RSA

The first item already seems like the solution:

> When encrypting with low encryption exponents (e.g., e = 3) and small values > of the m (i.e., m < n1/e), the result of me is strictly less than the modulus > n. In this case, ciphertexts can be decrypted easily by taking the eth root of > the ciphertext over the integers.

Which would mean that c3\sqrt[3]{c} is a solution if mm is small enough. However

c=m3modnc = m^3 \mod n \\

so the exponentiation could yield a much higher result that we dont get because it is wrapped at nn. So we can try out how often it wrapped:

m=c+xn3xNm = \sqrt[3]{c + x*n} \quad x \in \N\\

where xx can be brute-forced if mm is sufficiently small. Back in python it looks like this:

c = ...
n = ...

# simple but bad binary search for n-th root
def nth_root(c,e):
    high = 1
    while high**e < c:
        high *= 2
    low = 0
    mid = 0
    last_mid = 0
    while mid**e != c:
        mid = (low + high) // 2
        if last_mid == mid:
            return 0 # i use 0 to indicate a failure
        if mid**e > c:
            high = mid
            low = mid
        last_mid = mid
    return mid

for x in range(100000):
    m = nth_root(c + n*x, e)
    # the probability of finding a perfect cube number is low, so any result is what we want
    if m != 0: print(long_to_bytes(m))

Thats it! With x=1831x=1831 we get our flag: CTF{34sy_RS4_1s_e4sy_us3}

changes to this article (as recorded with git; visible on codeberg)

2022-09-26 6bccd84 language improvement
2022-09-25 7959408 gctf writeup: readysetaction