Ahh… Been a while since I had a day like this. Yesterday, my partner and I spent a solid 7 hours, minus about 30 min for lunch, on homework. We had seven problems. I had solved the first one about a week before (the easiest one), and then we managed to complete 2 and 3 in the first four hours. 4, and 7 took us the remaining 3 hours that we worked on it. That leaves 5 and 6, of which I managed to figure out 6 last night in about an hour or two.
So, what are these problems? Buffer overflow for privilege escalation. First, seven targets are installed on the system with suid root privileges, which means that when they are executed, they run with root permission. Our goal is to exploit small bugs in each program to execute some code of our choosing. Some of the techniques required to accomplish this are quite devious. Anyway, I feel sorry for the rest of the students who try to do this problem set. It is not easy at all, and there is only about 1.5 weeks left to do it.