Stories tagged Uni:RSS Feed

[Review] AI Touchbook; tags=Debian, Linux, FOSS, Uni

Having my primary working Computer, a Lenovo Thinkpad, going into repair at the end of December I finally got up to ordering on of those TouchBook ARM based netbooks I was looking at for some time. After some processing time it finally got shipped in April and arrived here last Monday, time to write up my first impressions.

Some words about the Hardware. The TouchBook ships with a so called "Beagle Board" featuring a OMAP3 Processor, ARM Cortex A8 running at 600MHz, 512MiB of RAM and a 8GiB SD Card for storage. It has a 8.9" touch screen and comes with USB and Bluetooth Sticks for wireless connectivity. The Display part contains all the needed Hardware and is detachable from the bottom that is just a keyboard sitting on the secondary Battery. You can open the Top to get at 4 intern USBs (3 USB-A and one Mini-USB) where 2 of these spots are occupied already for wireless networking and Bluetooth.

First experience

The TouchBook comes with an US Power Adaptor only so when I got the device I was running for some tiny Adaptor to get the plug into a normal EU Power Outlet (it's incredibly hard to get one for this Direction while it's easy to get some travelling stuff to plug EU Hardware into various different Outlets!).

When I finally booted it the first thing you'll notice is the touch interface for the bootloader. That's quite a difference to all-text-based old grub! The shipped SD Card offers 3 Operating Systems, one custom Linux that might well be interesting to the average User, a Ubuntu Karmic that really OK for a Debianoid Hacker- both running a XFCE Desktop - and a Android that is really slow and doesn't seem to be good at anything. Needless to say I sticked with the Ubuntu for now.

What to not expect

Well this is a 600MHz CPU with half a Gig of RAM running of a SD Card. So don't expect it to be good at anything that can profit from today's High-End Hardware.

The good Points

First of all, I have to admit that the touch screen is a neat interface, way superior to the Touchpad Area you'll normally find on a Notebook - at least if you use the stylus. It's quite different from the inside-the-keyboard trackball the thinkpads have of course.

The Website claims 10h of Battery life and while I've emptied the battery much faster under certain workloads (e.g. Playing cards) it does hold that promise with emacs fired up in org-mode, IRCing on a server over SSH and the mandatory wireless working. Same for a always-on on campus day which just works.

Again putting the screen on the keyboard the wrong way 'round will give you a touchscreen tablet with the keyboard out of your way, an ideal configuration for playing. And I have to admit playing games like gtkballs or aisle riot real fun. So much fun actually I'm currently thinking on whether it would be feasible to get openpandora working on it.

What I'm really missing

There are two Properties that are really lacking from the device which would make it (in my personal opinion at least) a whole lot better: A simple Ethernet controller I could use to go online when sitting in the server room doing some maintenance without taking my WRT with me and some slot to store the stylus when not using it where it's easy to get out (currently I'm having it in my wallet).

Then there's something (maybe a Kernel Bug): The Wireless is unable to find any new Access Point after disconnecting from some and walking out of reach from that. Force-unloading the kernel module and waiting 30 minutes worked for me multiple times but that's purely inacceptable.

Finally there are some minor glitches. The shiny red cover just gets dirty every time you touch the thing and the Keyboard is really small (what a surprise on a 9" device) and has some of the special Keys (like the Home key) located at unusual spots (Page-Up/Down only available through the FN modifier). Shift and End at the right side are also labeled opposite from their actual function (at least on Ubuntu).

The last ugliness is the top part battery only charging when the device is running, which means you"ll have the TouchBook running all night to get the battery charged and the Battery Monitor not working at all (at least in the current version of the operating systems).

Where to go now

I've not yet come around to really play with the operating system (apart from installing wicd, urxvt-unicode and awesome getting the most needed of my working environment). As I'm a Debian Developer I'll definitely need a Debian running on it (although I was told it'll be slow with software compiled for armv4te) and, as it needs to be running all night anyway, I'll try out gentoo pending another SD Card for experiments.

Secondly there's currently no useable conforming Common Lisp Implementation in Debian for armel as far as I can tell. As arm was already working it shouldn't be that hard, let's see if I can change that but feel free to join me!

Final Notes

I was thinking of some mobile-ish note-taking device and remote ssh terminal for University which the device clearly can do even for 10h away from any power plug while being some non-standard non-x86 device to toy on (It's actually my second armel next to the sheeva plug mounted on my window board.

As a final Remark: This blogpost was written on the TouchBook hacking some markdown into emacs while traveling by train to Erlangen where I study on Sunday Night after having read some chapters of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother on my E-Slick E-Book reader and finished later in my Room.

Maybe I'll find some time to write a review for this device as well one day!

-- Christoph Egger <> Mo, 26 Apr 2010 10:32:35 +0200

RuCTFe nsaless; tags=Uni, HowTo, Security

Greetings from the FAU Security Team (FAUST), the Uni Erlangen CTF group. We were participating in the RuCTFe competition and made it to 4th place. Following is my write-up on the nsaless service, the main crypto challenge in the competition. nsaless is a nodejs webservice providing a short message service. People can post messages and their followers receive the message encrypted to their individual RSA key.

About the gameserver protocol

The gameserver created groups of 8 users on the service 7 were just following the first user (and authorized by the first user to do so) while the first user sent a tweet containing the flag. The service used 512bit RSA with 7 as public exponent. While RSA512 is certainly weak, it's strong enough to make it unfeasible to break directly.

Attacking RSA

There are some known attacks against RSA with small exponents if no proper padding is done. The most straightforward version just takes the e-th root of the cipher-text and, if the clear message was small enough, outputs that root as plain-text. As the flag was long enough to make this attack impossible, we need a somewhat improved Attack.

Håstad's Broadcast Attack


  • In RSA, given a plain-text A, the sender computes Aᵉ mod N to build the cipher-text B.
  • Given simultaneous congruences we can efficiently compute a x ∈ ℤ such that x satisfies all congruences using the Chinese remainder theorem.

For NSAless we actually get several such B for different N (each belonging to different users receiving the tweet because they follow the poster). This effectively means we get Aᵉ in mod N for different N. Using the Chinese remainder theorem we can now compute a x ∈ ℤ ≡ Aᵉ mod Π Nᵢ. If we use at least e different B for this we are guaranteed that x actually equals Aᵉ (in ): A needs to be smaller than N for all N used (otherwise we lose information during encryption), therefore Aᵉ needs to be smaller than Nᵉ.

Computing now the e-th root of x we get the plain-text A – the flag.


Fixing your service is easy enough, just increase e to an suitable number > 8. At the end of the contest 5 Teams had fixed this vulnerability by either using 17 or 65537.


The basic exploit is shown below. Unfortunately it needs to retrieve all tweets for all users the compute the flags which just takes too long to be feasible (at least at the end of the competition where tons of users already existed) so you would need some caching to make it actually work. Would have been a great idea to have users expire after an hour or two in the service!


import httplib
import urllib
import re
import json
import pprint
import gmpy
import sys

userparse_re = re.compile('<a [^>]*>([^<]*)</a></div>\s*<div>([^<]*)</div>')
tweetparse_re = re.compile("<div id='last_tweet'>([0-9]+)</div>")
followingparse_re = re.compile('<div><a href="/[0-9]+">([0-9]+)</a></div>')

def my_parse_number(number):
    string = "%x" % number
    if len(string) != 64:
        return ""
    erg = []
    while string != '':
        erg = erg + [chr(int(string[:2], 16))]
        string = string[2:]
    return ''.join(erg)

def extended_gcd(a, b):
    x,y = 0, 1
    lastx, lasty = 1, 0

    while b:
        a, (q, b) = b, divmod(a,b)
        x, lastx = lastx-q*x, x
        y, lasty = lasty-q*y, y

    return (lastx, lasty, a)

def chinese_remainder_theorem(items):
  N = 1
  for a, n in items:
    N *= n

  result = 0
  for a, n in items:
    m = N/n
    r, s, d = extended_gcd(n, m)
    if d != 1:
      raise "Input not pairwise co-prime"
    result += a*s*m

  return result % N, N

def get_tweet(uid):
        conn = httplib.HTTPConnection("%s:48879" % sys.argv[1], timeout=60)
        conn.request("GET", "/%s" % uid)
        r1 = conn.getresponse()
        data =
        tweet = re.findall(tweetparse_re, data)
        if len(tweet) != 1:
            return None
        followers = re.findall(followingparse_re, data)
        return tweet[0], followers
        return None

def get_users():
    conn = httplib.HTTPConnection("%s:48879" % sys.argv[1], timeout=60)
    conn.request("GET", "/users")
    r1 = conn.getresponse()
    data1 = * 1024)
    data = dict()
    for i in re.findall(userparse_re, data1)[:100]:
        userinfo = get_tweet(i[0])
        if userinfo != None:
            data[i[0]] = (json.loads(i[1].replace('&quot;', '"'))['n'], userinfo)

    return data

users = get_users()
allusers = users.keys()
masters = [ user for user in allusers if len(users[user][1][1]) > 0 ]

for test in masters:
        followers = users[test][1][1]
        data = []

        for fol in followers:
            n = int(users[fol][0])
            tweet = int(users[fol][1][0])
            data = data + [(tweet, n)]

        x, n = chinese_remainder_theorem(data)

        realnum = gmpy.mpz(x).root(7)[0].digits()
        print my_parse_number(int(realnum))

-- Christoph Egger <> Fr, 20 Dez 2013 13:59:29 +0100

valid XHTML, CSS -- Django based -- ©2008 Christoph Egger