What is Pwn?

Binary Exploitation … really comes down to finding a vulnerability in the program and exploiting it to gain control of a shell or modifying the program’s functions. ~ ctf101

In pwn challenges, we are often provided with a vulnerable Linux-ELF binary, whereby we will have to find a vulnerability and exploit it to obtain a flag.


  • Understanding C programs
    • The C Library (LIBC)
  • Assembly
    • Registers
    • Calling Conventions
  • Binary Security
    • No eXecute (NX)
    • Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) & Position Independent Executable (PIE)
    • Stack Canaries/Cookies
    • Relocation Read-Only (RELRO)
  • Reverse-Engineering
    • Decompilation
  • The Stack
  • Buffer
    • Buffer Overflow
  • Pwntools
  • Global Offset Table (GOT)
  • Format String Exploitation
  • Shellcoding
  • Return Oriented Programming
    • Ret2win
    • Ret2Libc
    • SIGRop
    • Ret2csu

What do I need to know?

I won’t be teaching how to use Linux so please learn and read it up yourself!

There is a fun Linux BASH based war-game that is CTF-like called Bandit, check it out!

Other than that, it would be great to know a little bit about C and Python, but if you don’t, it’s fine!

I didn’t know any programming languages when I first started pwning either :)

What do I need?

  1. The most important tool you need is google. Google is love, google is life.
  2. You need a decompiler, use either Ghidra or IDA Pro. i will be using ghidra during my tutorials since it is the free option
  3. You need Linux. I suggest Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) or a Linux VM. I’m personally running Kali Linux on virtual box.
  4. You need pwntools and python on your linux. pip install pwntools should install pwntools. Google if you have any issues!

What are binaries?

Binaries, or executables, are machine code for a computer to execute. It is usually written in C or C++ programming, which is then compiled with a compiler into machine code such that the computer understands.

Ok how do I run these so called ‘binaries’?

You need a linux terminal. You can simply run it with ./ if it is in your local directory.

For example, if my binary is called binary, I can run it with ./binary.

How do I compile my C code into a binary?

Linux has a convenient C compiler called the GNU Compiler Collection (gcc).

Simply run gcc <path to c file> -o <output binary path> on your linux terminal.

Chapter 2: How does C programming work?