Sawyer Shepherd's Blog

Fall 2021 KSU HS CTF Writeup

I placed third at the end of the challenge, winning myself $50. This is how I solved the hardest and least-solved questions of each category.


I’ve been trying to work on my resume recently, and what better way to do it than with a fun CTF organized by a local college? The competition ran from 10 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. on Sunday, November 13th. There were 33 applicants (including myself), 26 of which competed.

Log Analysis

What is the total size of the objects returned to client IP address (in bytes)

The provided file was a large Nginx log with many different clients requesting many different resources, whether they existed or not.

I ran grep "^ LogFile.txt" > requests.txt to get a file of requests only by the target IP.

Each entry in an Nginx log follows this format:1

ip - user [time] "request" status bytes "referer" "user_agent"

I can use regex capture groups to get the number of bytes transferred, turn it into an int, and add it to a total.

I wrote a Perl script to do just that:

# Open the list of requests made
open my $lines, "requests.txt" or die "Can't open file";

my $total = 0;

# For each line in the file,
while ( my $line = <$lines> ) {
    # if the line matches this regex, capture the match in
    # parentheses...
    if ($line =~ / - - .* "GET .*" [0-9]* ([0-9]*) ".*/s) {
        # ...and add it to the total.
        $total += int($1)
# Print the total
say $total

Network Traffic Analysis

What is the flag? The flag is in the format KSU-***-*****

The attached file was a .pcapng file.

I uploaded the file to A-Packets, an online pcap analyzer. In the ‘Images’ section, I found an image with the flag written on it.

An image of the host of Ancient Aliens. The caption says,&ldquo;The flag is KSU-2021-BEBE&rdquo;


Given the string below, see if you can find the flag using the attached file: ÖÊËÕËÕÏÛÈÃØÈÑÐÖ

The attached file was a font. I pasted the given string into LibreOffice and set it to the attached font, which revealed the flag: THISISMYFAVFONT

Password Cracking

WoWProgress is a site which tracks the rankings of the top guilds in the world for the game World of Warcraft. The following is an md5 hash of the name of one of the top 100 guilds in the world for the “Sanctum of Domination” tier. Crack the hash and submit the name of the guild as your answer!


I simply copied the top 100 guilds by column into a wordlist and ran it in john against the hash to get the flag: Wizards and Monkeys.

Python Programming

Unfortunately, I ran out of time on the hardest question of this section.


All the questions in this category were not written by the organizers, but instead provided to them by CTFd. In my opinion, all the forensics challenges were undervalued at only 100 points each.

A Friend

I was the only participant to solve this question!

My friend has been acting a little weird lately. He sent me a weird message. Can you figure out what’s up?

Attached is a zip file named

First, I attempted to unzip the file, which returned an error. By running binwalk on the file, I saw that, while indeed there was a zip file in it, there were also other embedded files.

0        0x0          Zip archive data, at least v2.0 to extract, compressed size: 12250, uncompressed size: 24626, name: a friend.docx
12404    0x3074       End of Zip archive, footer length: 22
12426    0x308A       PNG image, 5312 x 2988, 8-bit/color RGB, non-interlaced
15889    0x3E11       Zlib compressed data, default compression

I extracted these all at once. Inside, there was…

Notice how there is no PNG image present as binwalk previously suggested there would be. Unfortunately, I did not notice this until later.

The Word document had white text that blended into the background. It described that somewhere in the archive the friend had hidden his/her location.

I unzipped the .docx file—they’re really just zip archives—and perused around for any sort of location to no avail. I decided to take a step back; I used strings | less on the whole archive to check for anything I might have missed. In fact, I did miss something—EXIF data for the supposed PNG embedded in the file:


As it turns out, this was a red herring. Different map applications read these coordinates differently, and no coordinates or addresses were accepted as the flag.

I inspected the output of binwalk again and finally noticed the missing image supposedly in the file. I extracted the image individually from the file as opposed extracting all the other files at once—it worked, and the flag was written across the image.

An image of 2 cute rats in a cage at a pet store. Thecaption says,&ldquo;flag{help_im_stuck_at_the_pet_store}&rdquo;