Last week @mystic_kev and I participated in the AfricaHackon 2021 CTF finals as team NoPwnNoGain, we managed position 4. We were able to solve 3 challenges with first blood on 2 of them. This writeup demonstrates how I was able to solve one of them.


1. Processing

Challenge description:

For this challenge we are provided a zip file with the java apps for the challenge.

The Challenge file is a shell script that allows for executing the challenge easily. On executing it we get a gui app.

When we supply the wrong password we get access denied.

Since this are jar files we can decrypt them using jadx-gui. I’ll focus on the Challenge.jar file as it’s the entrypoint of the challenge. From jadx-gui we can spot the functions responsible for the input interface and for checking the password.

The next logical step would be to reverse engineer the code and build the flag from there. If you would like to see how that approach would have been done see these writeups.

I used a different approach that I learnt from another ctf that I would like to share.

By using a tool called recaf we can edit the application’s code and repackage it again to run our modified code. This means that we can utilize the existing functions and classes in the application to achieve our goal.

public boolean checkPW(String pw) {
	ArrayList<Character> output = new ArrayList<Character>();
	int i = 0;
	while (i < this.s_key.length) {
	    char test = PApplet.parseChar(Challenge.unhex(this.s_key[i]));
	return true;


I edited the checkPW function as shown above, and then saved the new Challenge.jar by exporting it.

File -> Export Program

With our Challenge.jar modified we can run the challenge then supply any input as the password check is removed and get the flag. I am not so good with java so I let the output appear as an array then cleaned it up manually.


2. Phished

I was to solve phished and get first blood but I followed John Hammond’s video on a previous ctf that solved this similar challenge so I’ll just link it as the explanation is good enough. Only difference is I used cyberchef for find and replace to clean up the output from the xls instead of an editor.

@trevorsaudi also shows how to solve this in his writeup.


Thanks to @AfricaHackon and the partners for the CTF, we don’t get to play many locally organised ctfs so this was good to compete against local teams.

You can still play the challenges by visiting this link