GITS 2013 Writeup: RTFM (re100)

rtfm-67cc5dcb69df4244bcf2d573481e6d6a06b861a3: ELF 32-bit LSB executable
rtfm-e24f03bb1204f8e3d40fae8ac135187a11b0ba5c: data

rtfm is a binary processing ASCII input files and outputting seemingly compressed versions of these files: testing on a few long text files shows that the size of the output file is smaller than the input file. The second file from this challenge is a file compressed by rtfm, our objective is to write the decompression code for the rtfm compression.

The interesting part of the binary is the function at 0x08048910, which compresses the contents of an input buffer and writes it to a calloc-ed output buffer. For each character of the input stream, the function will read data from a 128 entries table at 0x08048CA0. Each of these entry contains a 16-bit word as well as an 8-bit integer.

After reading the details of the compression algorithm and noticing how it outputs a bit stream with variable size depending on the input character, I guessed that this was most likely implementing the well known Huffman encoding algorithm. The table at 0x08048CA0 is a hardcoded mapping of input symbols to output symbols, and the output symbols seem to be unambiguous when reading the compressed stream bit by bit. From this information we can now write a simple Huffman decoder using the same table.

import struct

fp = open('bin')
descr_raw = fp.read(4 * 128)
descr = {}

for i in xrange(0, 4*128, 4):
    s = descr_raw[i:i+3]
    w, b = struct.unpack('<HB', s)
    descr[i/4] = { 'byte': b, 'word': w }

def bits(s):
    for c in s:
        n = ord(c)
        for i in xrange(8):
            yield (n & 0x80) >> 7
            n <<= 1

def decompress(buf):
    buf = buf[4:]

    ends = {}
    for i, d in enumerate(descr.values()):
        n = d['byte'] + 2
        s = bin(d['word'])[2:]
        s += ("0" * (n - len(s)))
        ends[s] = i

    out = []
    n = ""
    for i, b in enumerate(bits(buf)):
        n += str(b)
        if n in ends:
            n = ""

    return ''.join(out)

if __name__ == '__main__':
    print decompress(

Decompressing the file gives us a RTF document, which contains the key: “Did I have Vari-good-code?”.

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