Billy Fung

Puzzle Challenge

Billy Fung / 2015-10-12

What is this?

So I’m lucky to have a bunch of friends who send me awesome things to solve whenever they encounter them. Today my friend send me this interesting challenge she was given and of course I spent some time trying to solve it.


Looking at it, it’s a bunch of hex that appears to repeat a certain number of times. So the first step when given a hexdump is to try the easiest things possible. So I converted a few lines into ASCII and then attempted to figure it out. Came out a bunch of jibberish so I temporarily looked online to see if the repeating characters were actually magic numbers for certain programs. Oh also the 0xac at the end threw me off, converted into decimal it gives you some random number which made no sense to me, so I thought maybe it might specify what kind of program this would be.

But looking at the hex some more, it’s obvious that there is some sort of repeating structure to it, and I ended up converting all the hex into ASCII. Direct conversion gave me:


mt-le lema obtuy uo rafovireth ca-kl
etllm  ebauo toyruf varoti eahkc
mt-le lemncsmel9jsf rafovireth ca-kl
etllm  ebauo toyruf varoti eahkc
mt-le lema obtuy uo rafovireth aa-kl


Looking at that, you can see that the byte order mattered in the conversion into ASCII. I had totally forgotten about little endian vs big endian, but this is now obvious. So instead of converting it all again, I just wrote a quick python command to reverse it for me. I take the string and then slice it into 2s, swap the pairs using [::-1], and then join it all back together.

    ''.join([ temp2[x:x+2][::-1] for x in range(0, len(temp2), 2) ])

Doing all this gave me the email for the company for further questioning. I love these kind of challenges from companies looking to hire!