I have obtained a standard user account on Windows. Now what?
This is a common question I see people inquire about frequently on the Discord/Slack/Mattermost servers I hang out on. This includes people working on CTF exercises (Hack the Box), OSCP/PWK studies, and just pentesting in general. The answer, of course, is that you need to enumerate the system and find a way to become Admin.
The methodology for how you actually do this depends on a lot, all depending on your specific environment and circumstances.
Windows Privilege Escalation to the Rescue
Here are some useful resources on what to do next in your given situation, after you have succesfully exploited your way onto a Windows box, but before you have the system administrator role. I collected these links, snippets, and exploits during my OSCP studies, saving them in this massive OneNote notebook. Rather than letting them sit there where no one but me can access them, I thought I’d share.
Some of these get pretty detailed, and some of them have links to yet even more resources on this topic.
Have fun…this rabbit hole runs deep!
Updated 11.11.18: A new resource I came across that looks pretty awesome:
Care about your privacy in the wake of all the Facebook news?
Switch to Mozilla Firefox as your main browser. It is now faster than Chrome or Internet Explorer, it uses less memory, and it goes a lot further to care for your privacy online and keep you safe. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
This setup will not only help you keep Facebook at arm’s length, it will help you in general to avoid malicious advertisements, malware, ransomware, and various types of web browser hijacking while surfing the Internet. Of course, you can always choose to leave Facebook altogether with these alternatives.
I no longer do Facebook. In light of recent Facebook events (#facebookgate) related to data harvesting and various inaction in being complicit with election manipulation, I have deleted my account enirely.
I you want to keep up with me, and I hope you do, you can follow me here on my website or via Twitter at @willc.
Some day, some other social media platform may creep up into being something worthwhile (remember Ello?), but until then, this will have to do.
About a year ago, Mozilla added “captive portal” support to Firefox in an attempt to enhance usability when connecting to free WiFi portals, such as at an airport or a hotel. You have probably interacted with captive portals in the past, and if you are a Firefox user, you may have wondered why you had to open Chrome or IE or Safari to be able to log into the WiFi system, as you could only get the “Sign In” page to pop up in one of those browsers before getting access to the full Internet.
Firefox added support for these “Sign In” pages about a year ago, so that you don’t need to use a (shudder) different browser. That is all well and good, except for when it comes to using Burp Suite as a proxy for Firefox. If you are a pentester, you are probably used using Firefox (especially on Kali Linux) for your traffic proxying through Burp, as they make it easier than any other browser to set up and disable the proxy.
However, you may now be seeing a ton of requests like this:
Disable the detectportal.firefox.com requests
Seeing all those requests in Burp, much less thinking about all the noise they generate otherwise, is annoying. Because you probably won’t ever need to use a Captive Portal on your pentesting machine (a VM, in my case), you can completely disable Firefox’s attempts to detect them. Just browse to about:config and enter network.captive-portal-service.enabled. Double click it to change its value to “false” and you should be good to go.
Just over a year ago, Rachael and I decided that we’d like to combine our love of escaping the house sans-children with our love of writing. Being fans of fine food and environments that enable us to focus on each other during rare, precious date nights, we thought it might be fun to share our experiences in Asheville with other couples who might be looking for a great spot to escape to, if only for an hour, or if for a whole evening. Plus, it would be a team effort that would allow us to collaborate on something we both love: writing and geeking out.
Thus, Date Night Appetite was born and officially launched back in September. To date, we’ve reviewed four local spots, but we also have some Instagram and Facebook posts to help share smaller delights that we find between date nights.
Check it out, and help add your ratings to what we have posted. And let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!
Here are some resources and tools I found useful while taking (and passing!) the Pentesting with Kali (PWK) course in preparation for the Offensive Security Certified Professional exam. It has been about two weeks since I passed, and I am still reveling in the satisfaction that has come with it, as it was ultimately a year-long effort to prepare for and take the course in order to pass the exam.
Many people post the usual resources that you can find on various blogs related to the course (g0tmi1k, highoncoffee, pentestmonkey, etc), and those are absolutely useful, but what I have assembled here are less common, and are hopefully useful for those of you about to embark on, or already in, the OSCP journey. They were useful for me.
Most of the machines in the PWK labs require that additional step. You seldom run across a VM where you run an exploit and get root right away, with no intermediary privilege escalation step needed. In fact, it is an entirely unique skill that you need to develop, practice, and practice again. What’s more, you have to learn “privesc” for both Linux/Unix and Windows machines — two entirely different methodologies.
Path to OSCP
https://localhost.exposed/path-to-oscp/ An interesting ‘trials and tribulations’ story of one man’s path to accomplishing his goal: the OSCP certification. Contains both video logs and various notes and snippets that may be helpful to you.
One Two Punch
https://github.com/superkojiman/onetwopunch I didn’t discover this script until I had already rooted about 15 of the machines in the PWK labs, but I wish I had learned of it sooner. It runs a unicornscan (UDP) to find open ports, then passes them to nmap for service detection. It also looks at all 65,535 ports, so you don’t miss anything. Set this up as one of the first things you do when you start working on a new machine (it takes a while to run), then come back to check the results after you’ve done some manual exploration.
https://github.com/codingo/Reconnoitre “A reconnaissance tool made for the OSCP labs to automate information gathering and service enumeration whilst creating a directory structure to store results, findings and exploits used for each host, recommended commands to execute and directory structures for storing loot and flags.”
This tool ended up being a workhorse, both in the labs and in the exam. Being able to check quick nmap results while more in-depth scans were still going was invaluable for getting things rolling along.
The most useful parts of that site for me were: Finish your lab report for 5 extra points and optionally the course exercises for an additional 5 points. You might need them to reach the 70 points.
You need to write a penetration test report after the exam. Make sure you know how to write it so you know what information to collect during the exam. The lab report is a great practice for this, use it to learn how to document properly.
There were so many people in the NetSec Focus OSCP Slack channel that skipped the exercises, skipped the videos, and skipped documenting the requisite 10 VMs to get the bonus points for the exam. I saw more than a few of them fail the exam as a result. I would likely have failed the exam had I not completed the exercise and 10 lab machine documentation. All I will say is this:
Do not skip the exercise or lab documentation. These are free points. The way the exam scores total up, you may well need these points to pass!
Timing of the Exam
Also from this page, I chose to follow this exact strategy for timing, and it really worked for me. The important thing to consider is being able to have two fresh starts.
“The second attempt I’ve started the exam at 3 PM and planned to work till 3 AM and then sleep till early morning. This way I had 2 ‘fresh’ starts for the exam to utilize more productive hours.”
I ended up sleeping from 2am to 5am, at which point I set an alarm and a full pot of coffee to carry me through until the exam was over. I also had the support of my amazing wife, who kept me fed and hydrated the whole time.
The Offsec PWK Kali VM
Use the provided Kali VM, do not use the latest/greatest Kali version. Offset provides you with a VM that has been customized to contain everything you need to complete the course and the exam. There is no need to update it. There is no need to run the latest version of Kali. In fact, they customize it in certain ways to make sure you don’t run into problems, so don’t try to use something different. I witnessed multiple people having problems with this in the NetSec Focus OSCP Slack channel, and I wisely used the Offset Kali VM the whole course to avoid issues.
The NetSec Focus Slack Channel
I have mentioned it a few times, but this Slack channel was invaluable during my OSCP journey. It allowed me to ask questions, bounce ideas off others, and chat with folks who were currently in the course or had already passed it. If you are in the OSCP course and you join the group, ask a moderator to add you to that private OSCP channel once you join. Keep in mind that they do not allow spoilers, or even questions about specific lab machines. This resource is a great asset for those taking the PWK/OSCP course, and I made some good friends from being there and suffering through it all.