code hacking, zen coding


Atast CTF – Gadget – IDA static analysis PIC16F Blinker Write-Up

Posted by aXs

Gadget was an electronic challenge at the Atast CTF. You get a schematic design for ISIS and .hex file for the PIC16F CPU. I choose to use the evaluation version of PIC Simulator just to visualize what this design was about:


When you run the program, the 8 LEDs will blink at the same time in short and long patterns: could be morse ?

I don't much about PIC and even less about electronic so let see how we can solve this challenge using only static analysis with IDA.

IDA will load the .hex file just fine. Make sure you uncheck "Memory layout" in the import options.

After reversing and renaming everything, its quite easy to understand what's going on:

The program entry point:

CODE:0000 ; Reset Vector
CODE:0000 ; Attributes: thunk
CODE:0000                 ; public start
CODE:0000 start:
CODE:0000                 b       main
CODE:0000 ; End of function start

The leds are turned on by setting RB0->RB7 pins (PORTB) to 0xFF:

CODE:000A led_on:                                 ; CODE XREF: main:sequence_startp
CODE:000A                                         ; main+16p ...
CODE:000A                 movlw   0FF
CODE:000B                 bcf     BANK0:STATUS, RP0
CODE:000C                 bcf     BANK0:STATUS, RP1
CODE:000D                 movwf   BANK0:PORTB
CODE:000E                 return
CODE:000E ; End of function led_on

..and turned off by clearing PORTB (output value 0x0):

CODE:001E led_off:                                ; CODE XREF: main+14p
CODE:001E                                         ; main+18p ...
CODE:001E                 bcf     BANK0:STATUS, RP0
CODE:001F                 bcf     BANK0:STATUS, RP1
CODE:0020                 clrf    BANK0:PORTB
CODE:0021                 return
CODE:0021 ; End of function led_off

We need to wait some time between signals so we have delay loops like this one:

DATA:007B wait1           equ 7B                  ; DATA XREF: wait_for_dash+3w
DATA:007C wait2           equ 7C                  ; DATA XREF: wait_for_dash+5w
DATA:007D wait3           equ 7D                  ; DATA XREF: wait_for_dash+7w

CODE:0022 delay:                                  ; CODE XREF: main+15p
CODE:0022                                         ; main+1Dp ...
CODE:0022                 movlw   82 ; 'é'
CODE:0023   &n