Virtual Reality

Google CTF 2019

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What is the Google CTF?

Google runs a CTF competition in two rounds: an online qualification round and an onsite final round.
The top 10 teams from the qualification round will be invited to the finals to compete onsite for a prize pool of more than USD $31,337.
In addition to the grand prizes, some of the best and creative write-ups that we receive during the qualifying round will be rewarded as well.
We want to give you an opportunity to share with the world the clever ways you solve challenges.
You can read more about the Google CTF here.

What do I do now?

If this is your first time playing a CTF competition, we suggest you start in the Beginner’s Quest here.
If you are a seasoned and experienced player, or feel ready for a harder challenge, our competition will be running from June 22 00:01 UTC until June 23 23:59 UTC.
Once the competition starts, the challenges for the main competition will be available here.
To submit flags, you need to register a team; you can do this by clicking on the sign-in link here.

Where can I submit a write-up?

Please submit all write-ups as an attachment in CommonMark Markdown format to google-ctf-writeups@google.com.
If your write-up can’t be submitted in Markdown (for example, if it’s a video, or an app), please send us a link to a ZIP file we can use to download it.
The deadline for write-up submission is June 30 23:59 UTC. Any write-up received after that will not be accepted.

Where can I ask a question?

During the competition, you can reach the Google CTF team on IRC on ##ctfcompetition on freenode. Click here to join with your web browser. You can also reach us by email at google-ctf@google.com.

Welcome to the Beginner’s Quest! A few notes before your embark:

  • There are multiple paths that lead through different challenges, to 4 different endings.
  • Only after solving the most difficult challenges do you receive the “winning” ending.
  • Save your flags in case you want to try different branches later, after reaching an ending.
  • Three challenges have two flags, each taking you towards a different path.
  • See the map for an overview of the challenges and paths.
  • Problems vary in both difficulty and time to solve (ie. some might be easier but take more time to do the work for the flag.) You can go back to make different choices if you don’t like what is ahead.

You are a simple life form, exiled from your home planet and in search of a new place to call home.
The ruling came fast. Your taste in music was deemed to be far too “out-there-man” for anyone to possibly associate with you anymore.
You were given 60 revolutions of Xenon around Fir to leave and never return. Gather whatever possessions and leave.
You find your parents music collection, oddly in it is a golden disc labelled “Property of NASA, if lost please return to: EVNJAKL 1600 Ampitheatre Parkway Mountain View California.”
The music on the disc was uncovered a while back and was not very interesting.
This weird language that said something about “Peace, love and rock and roll. Also we’re having a really cool party tonight, so for whoever is out there, bring a friend and come along! Co-ordinates enclosed.”
On the back the words “Draft, do not distribute or load onto probe” written in big red letters. That could mean anything.

You’ll go, since you have nowhere else to go. But you’ll be careful.
You well know to learn all you can about alien beings before making contact.
They could be hostile, or listen to boring music.
Time is slipping away fast, you race aboard the nearest ObarPool Spaceship. But you’ve never driven one… what next genius?

Ok well done. The console is on. It’s asking for coordinates. Beating heavily on the console yields little results, but the only time anything changes on your display is when you put in numbers..
So what numbers are you going to go for? You see the starship’s logs, but is there a manual? Or should you just keep beating the console?

Having successfully figured out this “coordinate” problem. The ship lurches forward violently into space. This is one of the moments when you realize that some kind of thought or plan would have been good, but typically for you and how you found yourself in this situation, you didn’t think too much before acting. Only the stars themselves know where you’ll end up.

After what seems like an eternity, or at least one full season of “Xenon’s Next Top Galactic Overlord” you arrive in a system of 9 planetary bodies, though one of them is exceptionally small. You nostalgically remember playing explodatoid with your friends and hunting down planets like this. But this small planet registers a hive of noise and activity on your ships automated scanners. There’s things there! Billions upon trillions of things, moving around, flying, swimming, sliding, falling.

Of particular interest may be the insect-like creatures flying around this planet, uniformly. One has the words “Osmium Satellites” written on it. Maybe this is a starting point to get to know what’s ahead of you.

Placing your ship in range of the Osmiums, you begin to receive signals. Hoping that you are not detected, because it’s too late now, you figure that it may be worth finding out what these signals mean and what information might be “borrowed” from them. Can you hear me Captain Tim? Floating in your tin can there? Your tin can has a wire to ground control?

Find something to do that isn’t staring at the Blue Planet.

Having found the information you were looking for, while detailed, it presents you with an interesting dilemma. There is a network of “computers” not completely dissimilar to your computrator-machine on your ship. You find yourself in possession of the credentials of an individual on the planet named “SarahH.” Great, with these you can get right into the secret world of an earthling without them knowing you’re there. You access “SarahH home network,” to find two computers: “work” and “home.” Not knowing what either of these are, you have to make a decision.

With the confidence of conviction and decision making skills that made you a contender for Xenon’s Universal takeover council, now disbanded, you forge ahead to the work computer. This machine announces itself to you, surprisingly with a detailed description of all its hardware and peripherals. Your first thought is “Why does the display stand need to announce its price? And exactly how much does 999 dollars convert to in Xenonivian Bucklets?” You always were one for the trivialities of things.

Also presented is an image of a fascinating round and bumpy creature, labeled “Cauliflower for cWo” – are “Cauliflowers” earthlings? Your 40 hearts skip a beat – these are not the strange unrelatable bipeds you imagined earthings to be.. this looks like your neighbors back home. Such curdley lobes. Will it be at the party?

SarahH, who appears to be a programmer with several clients, has left open a terminal. Oops. Sorry clients! Aliens will be poking around attempting to access your networks.. looking for Cauliflower. That is, *if* they can learn to navigate such things.

Good job! You found a further credential that looks like a VPN referred to as the cWo. The organization appears very clandestine and mysterious and reminds you of the secret ruling class of hard shelled turtle-like creatures of Xenon. Funny they trust their security to a contractor outside their systems, especially one with such bad habits. Upon further snooping you find a video feed of those “Cauliflowers” which look to be the dominant lifeforms and members of the cWo. Go forth and attain greater access to reach this creature!

Well you’ve done it, you’re now an admin of the Cookie World Order. The clandestine organisation that seeks to control the world through a series of artfully placed tasty treats, bringing folks back in to their idea of what a utopian society would look like. Strangely enough, the webcam data is being fed to understand the properties of the entities you had originally seen. They seem to be speaking back into the camera (an unadvertised microphone) but it’s hard to understand what they want. You must- if nothing else ever was important in your life, you must make contact with these beautiful creatures! Also, what exactly is a “cauliflower”?

Having successfully transcribed their language, you’ve made contact! They would love to meet you and invite you down.

Your 40 hearts pitter patter like raindrops of mercury on a tin roof. As if guided by this force that ripples through you, you watch your tendrils set your ship to sail, thinking only how every moment has led to this one. You feel alive with anticipation as never before.

So close!! You have landed. Getting to the farm was no problem, but these poor, helpless, if not stunning creatures are trapped behind a gate and a fence. All that stands between you and your destiny is this contraption of earthly construction. Though surely rudimentary, how do such things work? You barely have experience with three dimensional objects, none the less physical matter in this particular dimension’s structure of forces.

Quite some excellent work there, clever alien. You have hacked your way through some difficult terrain, but you would do it all again. <3

You road trip through space and time together, finding you share the same taste in obscure music from multiple dimensions and planets, trading tunes, while catching up on each-other’s histories, hopes, and dreams.

One particularly magical evening camping in Quasar park, you talk late into the night. Cauliflower tells you of the grand plan of the cWo and the use of computer history and something known as IoT to enslave the bipeds of the planet. Though cute and rather lacking in any kind of wit and sophistication, the cauliflowers have some kind of soft spot for these strange “human” creatures. Your task continues young not-exactly-a-cauliflower, click here to uncover the cWo and their plot!

To try a different ending, reset the scoreboard.

Having snooped around like the expert spy you were never trained to be, you found something that takes your interest: “Cookie/www.FriendSpaceBookPlusAllAccessRedPremium.com” But unbeknownst to you, it was only the 700nm Wavelength herring rather than a delicious cookie that you could have found. It looks exactly like a credential for another system. You find yourself in search of a friendly book to read.

Having already spent some time trying to find a way to gain more intelligence… and learn about those fluffy creatures, you (several)-momentarily divert your attention here. It’s a place of all the individuals in the world sharing large amounts of data with one another. Strangely enough, all of the inhabitants seem to speak using this weird pictorial language. And there is hot disagreement over what the meaning of an eggplant is.

But not much Cauliflower here. They must be very private creatures. SarahH has left open some proprietary tools, surely running this will take you to them. Decipher this language and move forth!

Having snooped around like the expert spy you were never trained to be, you found something that takes your interest: “Cookie/www.FriendSpaceBookPlusAllAccessRedPremium.com” But unbeknownst to you, it was only the 700nm Wavelength herring rather than a delicious cookie that you could have found. It looks exactly like a credential for another system. You find yourself in search of a friendly book to read.

Having already spent some time trying to find a way to gain more intelligence… and learn about those fluffy creatures, you (several)-momentarily divert your attention here. It’s a place of all the individuals in the world sharing large amounts of data with one another. Strangely enough, all of the inhabitants seem to speak using this weird pictorial language. And there is hot disagreement over what the meaning of an eggplant is.

But not much Cauliflower here. They must be very private creatures. SarahH has left open some proprietary tools, surely running this will take you to them. Decipher this language and move forth!

Excellent work! With your fine sleuthing skills, you managed to find a picture of the handsome creature with its pet biped. At last friends and companionship may be near!

Like all inhabitants of this world, you spend an inordinate amount of time on the site, stalking and comparing your life to that of others. The first thought that springs to your mind is “Why haven’t I ever been to Mauritius on holiday?” followed swiftly by “What is a Mauritius anyway?” But after a while and with language successfully deciphered, you’ve made contact with the lifeform in the picture, you have a “date”? You’re given the address of where to meet your potential interest. “1 Banana way, beware of the glass.” An odd address, especially that last part. So how do you get there? You land your ship and begin to search.

Well that was a waste. After arriving, You spent 6 hours in the presence of a Biped who wanted to tell you all these stories about “their grandchildren” and “cats” Neither of which you knew what it was, or why you should care.
After sitting there and nodding (or in your case, wobbling back and forth) for what seemed like an eternity, the biped falls asleep. You surmise that it must be the regular circadian rhythm time of revolution for them and turn to leave.
As you leave the planet, you wonder. Will you ever find the mysterious picture entity? Did the Bipeds rule down there (if so it looks like they’re doing a bad job at it)? Did anyone ever detect your ship, your presence and your landing? Will you ever find a new home? True Love?
All of these questions however belong to that of philosophers and Poets. Unsatisfied, but ultimately uninjured, you set out in to the vast emptiness of space, searching forevermore.

Of course, you could always see what would have happened if you found different clues down there.

To try a different ending, reset the scoreboard.


Apply to join us at the Google CTF Finals.

Blunderbussing your way through the decision making process, you figure that one is as good as the other and that further research into the importance of Work Life balance is of little interest to you. You’re the decider after all. You confidently use the credentials to access the “Home Computer. ”

Something called “desktop” presents itself, displaying a fascinating round and bumpy creature (much like yourself) labeled “cauliflower 4 work – GAN post.” Your 40 hearts skip a beat. It looks somewhat like your neighbors on XiXaX3. ..Ah XiXaX3… You’d spend summers there at the beach, an awkward kid from ObarPool on a family vacation, yearning, but without nerve, to talk to those cool sophisticated locals.

So are these “Cauliflowers” earthlings? Not at all the unrelatable bipeds you imagined them to be. Will they be at the party? Hopefully SarahH has left some other work data on her home computer for you to learn more.

Well it seems someone can’t keep their work life and their home life separate. You vaguely recall on your home planet, posters put up everywhere that said “Loose Zips sink large commercial properties with a responsibility to the shareholders.” You wonder if there is a similar concept here.

Using the credentials to access this so-called Agricultural network, you realize that SarahH was just hired as a vendor or contract worker and given access that was equivalent. You can only assume that Vendor/Contractor is the highest possible rank bestowed upon only the most revered and well regarded individuals of the land and expect information and access to flow like the Xenovian acid streams you used to bathe in as a child.

The portal picture displays that small very attractive individual whom you instantly form a bond with, despite not knowing. You must meet this entity! Converse and convince them you’re meant to be! After a brief amount of time the picture shifts into a biped presumably ingesting this creature! HOW DARE THEY. You have to save them, you have to stop this from happening. Get more information about this Gubberment thing and stop this atrocity.

You need to get in closer to save them – you beat on the window, but you need access to the cauliflower’s host to rescue it.

Success, you’ve gotten the picture of your lost love, not knowing that pictures and the things you take pictures of are generally two separate things, you think you’ve rescue them and their brethren by downloading them all to your ships hard drive.
They’re still being eaten, but this is a fact that has escaped you entirely. Your thoughts swiftly shift to revenge. It’s important now to stop this program from destroying these “Cauliflowers” as they’re referred to, ever again.

Congratulations, you have destroyed the system. With an undeserved sense of accomplishment and ill-gotten stash of cauliflower pictures. You fly off triumphant, if totally misguided.
It soon becomes very apparent that the pictures were just like the sculptures back home of you when you were younger. A mere representation of what was.
Upon circling back to the big blue planet, you wonder what would have happened if you took a different path, maybe that work computer would have brought you closer to the real thing.
Ah well. Time to find some friends and companionship or maybe a new home, one way or another. You lift your tendril to the console – what now?

To try a different ending, reset the scoreboard.

You managed to obtain code execution on the GAN network and discover its association with an organization called the “Cookie World Order.” You begin your hunt in to the mysterious depths of this clandestine organisation. It’s an organisation that seems to determine most of its outward facing decisions based upon the PR impact to their brand more than any kind of logical response to demand from the public. It’s lead to some weird decisions especially in regards to REDACTED!!! OH NO, they’ve got you too!

They push those who work against them in to the shadows, their rivals are the cauliflowers, and your new target to find all the information you can on this organization… an individual named “Gadget Overflow”.

To try a different ending, reset the scoreboard.

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