Challenge: Where will the meeting take place? – Solution

A few days ago we published a new challenge in this blog. We need to get the exact point where the gang was going to meet, using one file that had been sent by one of the gang’s member and two SMS saved in the mobile phone of another gangster recently arrested. In this post we are going to explain the solution :)

If we analyse the captured file, we can see it is an encoded text in base64, but if we do the decoding, we get a new encoded file in base64. To solve this, we have to focus on the first SMS, that said: “Recuerda, la quinta es la importante.”, that translates to: “Remember, the fifth is the important.”, what means we have to decode five times to get the original file. So, the only thing we have to do is decode the files until the fifth decoding.

With previous steps we get the following GIF image: a Barcelona street map (city what can be easily identified because of the “Sagrada Familia”).

Now, if we try “Barcelona” in the first validator we see that we open the file and get the solution for the first part of the challenge.

If we analyse a little bit more this image, the only thing we can find is a comment what says there is nothing more around here, what means we have to keep searching in other place ;)

The next part of the challenge focuses in the content of the second SMS. It said: “Te esperamos en:uÖ%äFeM!”, that translates to: “We will wait you in:uÖ%äFeM!”. It seems to point us to the exact address of the meeting. The problem lies in the text “uÖ%äFeM!”, because it does not look like a usual codification.

The clue in this case is the fact that we are working with an SMS text message. This messages use the GSM 3.40 specification, that establishes that the text messages will be encoded using PDU format.

Studying this format, we see the text characters are encoded with 7 bits instead of 8 in order to send longer messages. In the next image we can see how this codification works.

On the Internet, there are some sites which allow encode/decode PDU messages, thus using one of these (for example and getting the PDU codification of the second message, we get the hexadecimal chain “756E696F2C3743” (extracting the parts we don’t need: SMSC number, receiver’s number, length message, etc.). Decoding it to ASCII we get “unio,7C”. Now trying this result as a password in the second validator we can open it and check out the name of the address and the number where the meeting will be, getting the challenge solution :D

In this point concludes the solution for the challenge. Like always, congratulations to those people who solved the challenge and those who did not, I hope you have had a great time trying it ;)