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BGGP Wrap Up                                                        │                   █   │
~ netspooky                                                         └───────────────────█ ──┘

The Binary Golf Grand Prix is a now annual challenge for Binary Golf. Binary Golf is the
art of crafting the smallest possible binaries. The second annual BGGP took place from 
June 18th - September 17th 2021. The 2020 challenge involved creating a binary palindrome.

This year's challenge was to create the smallest possible binary polyglot, with two 
different categories for scoring that influenced how participants would approach this

The challenge announcement is here: https://n0.lol/bggp/2021/
The main repo for BGGP2021 is here: https://github.com/netspooky/BGGP/tree/main/2021

The repo contains all the files mentioned, along with score cards, writeups, and more.

[ Objectives and Background ]─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────//──

The objective of the challenge was to create the smallest file that:
- Is a binary executable.
- Overlaps with at least one other file of any type to create a polyglot.
- Returns or prints the value "2"
- Has a size of 4096 bytes or less, but greater than 0

- Each guest file must be parsable as the stated file type on at least one program that
  was published before the start of the challenge.

The rule requiring that the file size be greater than 0 was added shortly after the 
challenge began. This was the result of a philosophical debate, with seemingly endless
grey areas.

  What the hell even is a file? 
    Is it just a pointer in the file system? 
      Does a file have to contain data?
        Does it have to be linked to the file system? 
          What is a file system anyways???

            A   m i s e r a b l e   l i s t   o f   p o i n t e r s .

Most binary files, when run, have the process in which the binary will execute be set up
and validated by the operating system. For example, a COM file will have it's registers 
set to defaults when run. Even in the absence of a file, the loading process itself will
involve some code execution, is this associated with a file?

Many operating systems also abstract the true representation of files on disk. In Linux,
everything is a file. Even a 0 byte "file" can represent an enormous amount of data
depending on how it's defined and accessed.

All of these questions resulted in the rule that the minimum file size is 1 byte. In this,
the "solution" to this whole challenge was already answered. A COM file, with a one byte
instruction, representing both a COM file, and a text file. To ensure that the entries 
would contain some level of complexity, the requirement was added that all host binaries
must return or print "2".

Further questions regarding what constituted executable code were raised, since files 
such as COM or many ROM formats are usually entirely executable. The definition became 
that only bytes that were actually executed were counted as "executable code".

All of this now in mind, let's take a look at how some of the entries solved this.

[ Category 1 ]────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────//──

This category aimed to be as straightforward as possible: create the smallest binary that
met the above criteria.

We had a total of six entries for this category. 

The vechs/vechs_bggp and fliermate/bggp2021 entries were both ELF polyglots. vechs_bggp
was combined with a RAR file containing an MP3. fliermate's bggp2021 was an ELF PDF file.
Both of these files were appended to the end of the ELF.

s01den submitted an NES rom that was also x86 shellcode, but it was created without the 
competition in mind. I asked him if we could include it because it's an interesting 
technique. Good shellcode should be able to masquerade as anything, and a ROM for a game
system that can be executed is a lovely PoC.

qkumba submitted two files to this category. The test2 was a combination of COM, bash/sh,
Batch, Javascript, VBScript. It utilized a similar comment and variable assignment scheme
common across all of the scripting languages, and stored binary code in the comments. 
test3 was just 7 bytes, using a Javascript comment to store the remaining binary code.

The smallest entry, and winner of Category 1, was retr0id's bf.txt. At just 3 bytes, 
this was an impossibly small brainfuck program, which doubled as a text file.

Text files counting as "files" was another hot topic here. The main consideration made 
to deem a text file "valid" was whether or not it only include printable characters in 
the file. Printable meaning strictly ASCII (*sigh* I know, unicode and various other 
encodings are technically binary data, but we had to draw the line _somewhere_ :P).
Certain things like scripts can contain unprintable bytes in the comments, as long as 
the interpreter doesn't mind.

[ Category 2 ]────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────//──

This category was created as a way to encourage people to make complex polyglots within
the given criteria. There were points given for file overlays of the base file, and 
multipliers for each byte that was executed as code.

The scoring itself was only an attempt to quantify what was being presented, and in no
way reflects the validity or skill required to make something like this. Many of the 
polyglots here are the first of their kind, pushing the field forward. They should be
appreciated for what they are: Art.

Remy's bggp.wasm was an interesting blend of WASM, a Gameboy Advance ROM, and a 7Zip
archive. I had never seen a WASM polyglot before, and it's interesting because of how
widespread WASM is becoming as a whole. He has a few other projects regarding the format
that you should def check out: https://remyhax.xyz/posts/javascript-wasm-anti-debug/

Next up is jinn.com. This file is a blend of a COM file, and a BMP. The COM jumps around
some of the required header data in the BMP in order to fully execute.

Retr0id's second entry, two.chip8.pbm, clocks in at just 23 bytes, and is also a binary 
file and a very small image format. The content of the bitmap and the chip8 rom can be
modified simulatenously by changing the last 8 bytes.

My entry, alert2.exe, is a combination EXE, Javascript, and PDF. All files alert(2) when

Retroid's third entry was jar.png. This file contains a a CHIP-8 rom, a PNG, brainfuck,
JAR, and a PDF. It's the maximum size that a CHIP-8 ROM can be, and jumps around the
guest files to execute.

The next two entries are by Ben Greenwood. The first, fileglot, is a combination COM 
and TXT file, with complete overlap of the COM file with the TXT file. This is the first
entry to break the 3.0000 score threshold, which can be achieved with complete overlap of
the guest file with the host's code section.

The second entry from Ben is "poly". This one combined an EXE, a DOS EXE, HTML, TGA,
RAR, PDF, and MP3. This was also supposed to have zip and 7z archives, but unfortunately
we couldn't get them to work per his writeup. Nevertheless, a 7 file polyglot is quite

xcellerator's entry is janus. It's a combination of an x86 bootloader, a COM file, ELF,
RAR, ZIP, GNU Multiboot2 Image, and Commodore PRG. This entry uses a ton of tricks to 
make it all work, and xcellerator has an excellent writeup in the BGGP repo that you 
should check out.

Finally, the winner of the BGGP 2021 Category 2 is qkumba with "test". Qkumba sent this 
in just a day after the challenge was announced. It brings us back to the original
postulations about what a file could be and takes it the absolute limits.

This combination COM, Bash/Shell, Batch, Javascript, VBscript file is essentially the
full size version of the category 1 entry "test2". It starts with a variable assignment
to rem, which is a batch file comment, and it is followed up with a polyglot comment of
"//#", and then a TON of A's. These A's serve to bring the file all the way to it's 
maximum size, and is ended with a short about of 16 bit assembly to meet the requirements
for a binary file. This file gets the maximum score possible for having complete coverage
of the base file, with every byte being valid for every guest file simultaneously. The
final score was 12.0000.

[ See You Next Year ]─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────//──

Encouraging people to write interesting PoCs is always fun. Thank you to everyone who
participated! Next year will be a whole new challenge, and we encourage everyone reading
to explore the repo for both years in depth and play around with these ideas and submit
an interesting file next year! Peace out.

To stay up to date with the BGGP, follow @binarygolf on Twitter!