Hacking a Quiz Website's Highscores


Today my friend sent out a link:

Unfortunately after my first attempt I only got one question right… putting me at the bottom of the highscores 😢.

This couldn’t stand so I got to work.

Getting Started!

Instead of just going back through the quiz and inputting the right answers I decided to look at how the quiz was setup.

I immediately hopped to the chrome inspector tab and checked out the sources in the page.

The first thing to stand out to me was that under > www.gstatic.com a link to firebasejs/4.10.1 was present.

This indicated to me that all these results were likely written to a firebase database somewhere.

Investigating Their Firebase Setup

When used properly firebase is super secure.

But… this website also had a ton of onclick attributes set in the raw html - so it seemed likely that the creator may have made a mistake.

First I decided to investigate which firebase modules were loaded into the page.

Cool, so it looks like they just use the auth module and the Realtime Database.

I did some more poking around but didn’t find any other useful information.

The page source

The page source consisted mainly of a ton of html elements used to construct the quiz, code for google analytics, facebook analytics, bootstrap, jquery, and a few other third party libraries.

I pretty much instantly stumbled upon what I assumed to be the source code:

This looks like obfuscated source code if I’ve ever seen it.

Reverse Engineering

I dumped it into a file on my desktop and formatted it with js-beautify for further inspection.

The first few lines were like this:

var _0xb463 = ["\x41\x49\x7A\x61\x53\x79\x42\x74\x56\x41\x5A\x78\x67\x36\x4C\x67\x43\x31\x4B\x6E\x35\x6B\x30\x66\x6A\x31\x78\x46\x70\x64\x30\x75\x4B\x53\x36\x46\x51\x4E\x6F", "\x6E\x65\x77\x71\x7A\x69\x6E\x67\x6F\x2E\x66\x69\x72\x65\x62\x61\x73\x65\x61\x70\x70\x2E\x63\x6F\x6D", "\x68\x74\x74\x70\x73\x3A\x2F\x2F\x6E\x65\x77\x71\x7A\x69\x6E\x67\x6F\x2E\x66\x69\x72\x65\x62\x61\x73\x65\x69\x6F\x2E\x63\x6F\x6D", "\x6E\x65\x77\x71\x7A\x69\x6E\x67\x6F", "\x6E\x65\x77\x71\x7A\x69\x6E\x67\x6F\x2E\x61\x70\x70\x73\x70\x6F\x74\x2E\x63\x6F\x6D", "\x32\x35\x35\x33\x39\x32\x37\x33\x38\x31\x39\x32", "\x69\x6E\x69\x74\x69\x61\x6C\x69\x7A\x65\x41\x70\x70", "\x68\x72\x65\x66", "\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E", "\x3F\x71\x3D", "\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66", "\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72", "\x68\x69\x64\x65", "\x23\x6C\x6F\x61\x64\x69\x6E\x67\x5F\x70\x61\x67\x65", "\x23\x6E\x61\x6D\x65\x5F\x70\x61\x67\x65", "\x23\x70\x61\x67\x65\x5F\x67\x69\x76\x65\x5F\x70\x6F\x6C\x6C", "\x23\x70\x61\x67\x65\x5F\x71\x75\x65\x73\x74\x69\x6F\x6E\x65\x72", "\x73\x68\x6F\x77", "\x23\x65\x72\x72\x6F\x72\x5F\x70\x61\x67\x65", "\x70\x75\x73\x68", "\x68\x74\x74\x70\x73\x3A\x2F\x2F\x62\x75\x64\x64\x79\x6D\x65\x74\x65\x72\x2E\x63\x6F\x6D\x2F\x63\x72\x65\x61\x74\x65\x2E\x68\x74\x6D\x6C", "\x6C\x65\x6E\x67\x74\x68", "\x63\x6F\x64\x65", "\x6D\x65\x73\x73\x61\x67\x65", "\x63\x61\x74\x63\x68", "\x73\x69\x67\x6E\x49\x6E\x41\x6E\x6F\x6E\x79\x6D\x6F\x75\x73\x6C\x79", "\x61\x75\x74\x68", "\x75\x69\x64", "\x76\x61\x6C", "\x74\x68\x65\x6E", "\x76\x61\x6C\x75\x65", "\x6F\x6E\x63\x65", "\x2F\x75\x73\x65\x72\x73\x2F", "\x2F\x71\x75\x69\x7A\x65\x73\x5F\x67\x69\x76\x65\x6E\x2F", "\x2F\x73\x63\x6F\x72\x65", "\x72\x65\x66", "\x64\x61\x74\x61\x62\x61\x73\x65", "\x2F\x73\x74\x61\x74\x75\x73", "\x2F\x71\x75\x69\x7A\x5F\x63\x72\x65\x61\x74\x65\x64\x5F\x69\x64", "\x6F\x6E\x41\x75\x74\x68\x53\x74\x61\x74\x65\x43\x68\x61\x6E\x67\x65\x64", "\x2F\x71\x75\x69\x7A\x65\x73\x2F", "\x63\x68\x69\x6C\x64", "\x71\x75\x65\x73\x74\x69\x6F\x6E\x73", "\x63\x6F\x75\x6E\x74\x72\x79", "\x55\x4B", "\x6C\x61\x6E\x67\x75\x61\x67\x65", "\x45\x4E", "\x61\x6E\x73\x77\x65\x72\x65\x72\x73", "\x4E\x6F\x20\x6F\x6E\x65\x20\x68\x61\x73\x20\x67\x69\x76\x65\x6E\x20\x74\x68\x69\x73\x20\x71\x75\x69\x7A\x20\x79\x65\x74\x2E", "\x74\x65\x78\x74", "\x2E\x6E\x6F\x74\x65\x5F\x66\x6F\x72\x5F\x73\x63\x6F\x72\x65\x62\x6F\x61\x72\x64", "\x46\x52"
// and on, and on, and on

Then it opened up into some firebase initialization calls and function calls.

There was a ton of initialization logic and a ton of random other UI related logic.

I went back into the web UI to figure out what function was called on button click:

luckily… they left it in plain sight in the onclick attribute.

<span class="option_text" id="option_1" onclick="option_clicked(1)">Beer</span>

So I went back to the source and looked for option_clicked(1).

Hoorah!! Looks like the button here sends some sort of information to firebase - I went through and started tracing the logic in the function send_vote_to_firebase.

function send_vote_to_firebase(_0x932cx39, _0x932cx30) {
    var _0x932cx3a = {};
    _0x932cx3a[_0xb463[156] + userID + _0xb463[33] + pollID + _0xb463[157] + _0x932cx39] = _0x932cx30;
    var _0x932cx3b = firebase[_0xb463[36]]()[_0xb463[35]]();
    _0x932cx3b[_0xb463[127]](_0x932cx3a, function(_0x932cx14) {

This was actually a red herring that I won’t discuss anymore.

Luckily, there was another function right below it - send_score_to_firebase.

It looked as though I had struck gold!

function send_score_to_firebase(score) {
    var _0x932cx3a = {};
    _0x932cx3a[_0xb463[158] + pollID + _0xb463[159] + userID + _0xb463[160]] = answerer_name;
    _0x932cx3a[_0xb463[158] + pollID + _0xb463[159] + userID + _0xb463[34]] = score;
    var _0x932cx3b = firebase[_0xb463[36]]()[_0xb463[35]]();
    _0x932cx3b[_0xb463[127]](_0x932cx3a, function(_0x932cx14) {
        if (_0x932cx14) {} else {}

I quickly figured out what all of this code evaluated to by extracting the indexed chunks from the mega array at the beginning - _0xb463 - and started popping my own variable names in.

I was left with:

function send_score_to_firebase(score) {
  nameKey = "quizes/" + pollID + "/answerers/"+ userID + "/name"
  scoreKey = "quizes/" + pollID+ "/answerers/ " + userID + "/score"
  result = {}
  result[nameKey] = "luke";
  result[scoreKey] = score;
  var database = firebase.database().ref();
  database.update(result, function(e) {

I tried running this in the console and it actually didn’t work due to some scoping issues - but I reverted to this:

function send_score_to_firebase(force_name, force_score) {
    var _0x932cx3a = {};
    _0x932cx3a[_0xb463[158] + pollID + _0xb463[159] + userID + _0xb463[160]] = force_name;
    _0x932cx3a[_0xb463[158] + pollID + _0xb463[159] + userID + _0xb463[34]] = force_score;
    var _0x932cx3b = firebase[_0xb463[36]]()[_0xb463[35]]();
    _0x932cx3b[_0xb463[127]](_0x932cx3a, function(_0x932cx14) {
        if (_0x932cx14) {} else {}

and it worked like a charm.


First I tried giving it numbers above the maximum possible score but I got things like:

⚠️ FIREBASE WARNING: update at / failed: permission_denied

Then I thought to myself:

Their security rules probably look something like this:

allow write if score < 10

By this logic decimal numbers in javascript would pass.

so… I tried the number 9.6969696969 and it worked!

This was really exciting! Here are the highscores now.