C64 invitation cracked!
On request, this is a brief writeup of my adventures cracking the hidden part
of the Datastorm 2017 Summer invitro by Fairlight. Spoilers ahead!
Having discovered the password entry screen that appears when you press space
during the end scroller, I quickly dived into the monitor and began to explore
the code. It became apparent that the password was used as the key for a very
professional-looking encryption algorithm (I later learned that it’s known as
I spent a lot of time trying to reverse the cipher, but couldn’t find any
obvious weaknesses. And you simply can’t brute-force a 16-character password:
There are about 2^80 possibilities, and merely counting to that number on a
1 GHz processor would take 40 million years. And I only had two weeks.
But I noticed something interesting: The drive LED was making irregular
patterns of short and long flashes. Hmmm! I’m not skilled at reading Morse code
quickly, but it was easy enough to patch Vice to create a log file of all the
LED transitions with timestamps. Then I used “R”, the statistics program, to
visualise the data as a signal trace. Using Wikipedia’s Morse chart as a
reference I managed to decode something like:
LEGENDS NEVER DIE / FILTER / LIGHTHOUSE / TORUS / DISCO / STRING / SEVENTEEN /
FAIRLIGHT / NU
I jumped to the conclusion that “FAIRLIGHT NU” was just an advert for the
group’s regular site, and that the rest of the message was directly related to
the password. But when that didn’t yield any results, I briefly compared notes
with soci (hi!), who supplied the vital piece of information that the Morse
code message was pointing to a website with numbers on it. Knowing that, it was
straightforward to figure out that some of the spacing characters were dashes
and periods, and hence what the full domain name was supposed to be.
And sure enough, the site contained 19 large hexadecimal numbers of varying
lengths. What could they mean? Two of them began with “ea”, the opcode for the
NOP instruction, but overall they didn’t appear to be 6502 code. On a whim, I
googled the first number, and found a page that listed a lot of dictionary
words along with their MD5 and SHA-1 hashes. It turned out that the first two
numbers were the SHA-1 hashes of “alfa” and “bravo”. The remaining numbers
didn’t appear in Google’s index, except one which returned a small, unrelated
image. I later found out that this was the SHA-256 hash of the word “six”, so
presumably somebody was generating thumbnails with hash-based filenames, or
something along those lines.
But by now, all the evidence was pointing in one direction, so I wrote a bash
script that used the unix tool “shasum” to compute a variety of SHA-hashes for
the complete NATO phonetic alphabet, and check them against the list of
numbers. Sure enough, all nineteen numbers turned out to be hashes of code
words from that very alphabet. The first three (alfa, bravo, charlie) seemed to
serve as a hint to get people started, and the remaining sixteen, although they
didn’t spell out a regular word, were indeed the secret password that decrypted
the hidden part, in which a scroller told me to mail a secret code to wasp in
order to claim the golden ticket.
By now I had been staying up way too far into the early hours of the night, so
I sent the mail and promptly fell asleep. The next day it struck me that the
Commando music had been hinting at a military theme all along, perhaps
subconsciously priming my mind for Morse code and phonetic spelling alphabets.
All in all, this was an enjoyable and, yes, t-t-t-tricky challenge. Thank you
very much, moh and company!
Thanks to Raycore who help us flying in legends and expanding the party, we can really focus on making this party a spectacular experience for everyone!
Visit their site here:
Look at that beauty! Perhaps some of you noticed this beast outside DATASTORM in February. But this time it’s in the back, fully de-pimped and ready for the future. In the car you’ll be able to time travel. Yes. Time travel! We’ll take you back to 1987.
To expand our selection of liquid refreshments, we’re going to serve long drinks! Summer drinks! Data drinks! As usual, you’ll be able to get this from the friendly bar staff almost all night long. So don’t worry. We got you.
In DATASTORM invitros there are usually hidden parts you can find to get a free GOLDEN ticket, to get in to DATASTORM. Last year all of them were found, except for one. We can even tell you where you can find it: it’s in the visitor list on the site for the storm we had earlier this year. Have a look and see if you can find it. We won’t give you a free ticket, but you’ll get fame and glory… and a free beer!
Yes yes, y’all! A short n’ sweet DATASTORM C64-invitro from Fairlight hit the data streets last weekend! Find the secret code in here to get a free ticket. Not only that, you’ll get all the admiration from the databoys and datagirls because it’s tricky. Tricky. T-t-t-t-tricky!
A second DATASTORM invitro was released last weekend at the Leifhack party. Here’s a tasty little Amiga production by Pacific, with everything you need: popcorn, casio sounds, storms and slimey vectors!
Alright, yet another early C64-scener comes to DATASTORM to share stories of the early days! K12 started cracking in 1984 and appeared on Swedish TV in 1989 to talk about carding. Shit kind of hit the fan and eventually he got in legal trouble. But K12 was about much more than that. Demos like the odd Gergamygg series are timeless classics, and his quirky music editor Groovy Beat is another smash hit.
This talk will be in Swedish, and will not be streamed. So if you don’t want to miss it, you know what to do!
A special screening of the demoscene documentary „The Art of Breaking the Ground” will be held at DATASTORM.
The documentary also tries to answer the question: why retro hardware has so much creative potential despite all its inherent limitations and how those limitations have been disappearing as the technology advances.
About the movie
„The Art of Breaking the Ground” is a documentary exploration of the demoscene culture in Poland. It is an effort to show a subculture that has survived tremendous changes in digital technology despite the fact that it is heavily dependent on it.
The film is an attempt to understand the phenomenon of the demoscene: why people continue supporting it and why they return to retro hardware after years to create audio-visual art with very distinctive aesthetics that clearly tells it apart from what you can witness in art galleries.
Director, film editing, photography, script: Michal Baranski
Music: JazzCat, AceMan
Website: www.sztukaprzekraczania.weebly.com (only polish version, working on english)