This is my write-up for the Pandora machine on HackTheBox that just retired! Here I detail the penetration testing steps taken to scan, exploit, and privilege escalate on this target machine. This machine is categorized as medium difficulty and was retired on May 21, 2022.
IP Address: 10.10.11.136
Open SNMP with a default community string allows for enumeration which reveals SSH credentials. SSH access reveals an internal web site which can be accessed via an SSH tunnel. The Pandora FMS web application running on the internal site is vulnerable to a SQL injection vulnerability that allows for authentication bypass. The Pandora FMS web application is also vulnerable to remote code execution once authenticated which allows for a reverse shell on the target. A SUID binary does not reference the full executable path of a dependency so poisoning the path leads to privilege escalation.
The Nmap scan shows that there is an Apache httpd server on port
80/tcp and SSH open on port
# nmap -sV -sC -p- 10.10.11.136 Starting Nmap 7.92 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2022-05-20 23:18 GMT Nmap scan report for 10.10.11.136 Host is up (0.050s latency). Not shown: 65533 closed tcp ports (reset) PORT STATE SERVICE VERSION 22/tcp open ssh OpenSSH 8.2p1 Ubuntu 4ubuntu0.3 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0) | ssh-hostkey: | 3072 24:c2:95:a5:c3:0b:3f:f3:17:3c:68:d7:af:2b:53:38 (RSA) | 256 b1:41:77:99:46:9a:6c:5d:d2:98:2f:c0:32:9a:ce:03 (ECDSA) |_ 256 e7:36:43:3b:a9:47:8a:19:01:58:b2:bc:89:f6:51:08 (ED25519) 80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.4.41 ((Ubuntu)) |_http-title: Play | Landing |_http-server-header: Apache/2.4.41 (Ubuntu) Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at https://nmap.org/submit/ . Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 33.34 seconds
Nikto and Gobuster do not give us much useful information about the target website. So I do not include their results here.
There is a basic site on port
80/tcp. There is not much interesting to note about it. A dead end.
With no leads on any of the ports and services, it’s worth running a slow UDP scan with Nmap. SNMP is found to be open on port
# nmap -sU 10.10.11.136 Starting Nmap 7.92 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2022-05-20 23:07 GMT Nmap scan report for 10.10.11.136 Host is up (0.053s latency). Not shown: 999 closed udp ports (port-unreach) PORT STATE SERVICE 161/udp open snmp Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 1058.34 seconds
SNMPWalk is a tool on Kali that can be used to scan the SNMP protocol. It requires a community string which usually is default as “public” for SNMP. The “public” community string is correct and SNMPwalk is able to print tons of information from SNMP on the target. Including a username and password of
# snmpwalk -v 1 -c public 10.10.11.136 iso.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 = STRING: "Linux pandora 5.4.0-91-generic #102-Ubuntu SMP Fri Nov 5 16:31:28 UTC 2021 x86_64" iso.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 = OID: iso.22.214.171.124.1.8072.3.2.10 iso.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 = Timeticks: (128906) 0:21:29.06 iso.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 = STRING: "Daniel" iso.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 = STRING: "pandora" iso.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 = STRING: "Mississippi" iso.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 = INTEGER: 72 iso.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 = Timeticks: (7) 0:00:00.07 ---- SNIP ---- iso.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1.5.839 = STRING: "-c sleep 30; /bin/bash -c '/usr/bin/host_check -u daniel -p HotelBabylon23'" iso.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.1.5.1118 = STRING: "-u daniel -p HotelBabylon23"
There were no login pages identified on the web server on port
80/tcp or anywhere else. The only place to try the credentials dumped from SNMP is SSH on port
22/tcp. The credentials work for SSH!
Alternate Web Server
daniel user isn’t yet the user that gives us the
user.txt flag, so there’s still more to do before privilege escalation. After looking around, the Apache httpd directory
/var/www and the
/etc/hosts file indicate that there is an alternate website running something called Pandora.
Tunnels and Proxies
In order to access the new web site on the target machine with our host’s web browser and tools, we must first establish a tunnel to the target machine, and then proxy any web browsers and tools to that established tunnel. A tunnel can be quickly set up using the SSH access we have. In a new SSH session, simply adding
-D 80 creates a dynamic tunnel to port
80/tcp on our localhost.
# sudo ssh -D 80 firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, with the tunnel set up to port
80/tcp on our localhost, we must instruct our browser to proxy to that tunnel. This can be done in the browser directly or through an easy to use tool like FoxyProxy.
Now we can see the Pandora web site at
After searching around about this software Pandora FMS there is a SQL injection vulnerability registered as CVE-2021-32099 affecting this version v7.0NG.742. I found this GitHub repo which provides a link to automatically set our PHPSESSID cookie to one that is extracted via the SQL injection vulnerability. The link that we use is below.
Going to this link sets our PHPSESSID cookie to a valid administrator one. So when we go back to the landing page we are logged in as the admin without needing a username or password.
Now, with admin login we still need some form of code execution on the system to move further. Searching again shows there is a authenticated remote code execution vulnerability registered as CVE-2020-5844 affecting this version of Pandora FMS v7.0NG.742. There are a few proof of concept scripts available for exploiting this vulnerability, but I have since created my own exploit for CVE-2020-5844 under my UNICORD project.
My exploit script can be used in multiple different configurations including web shell, custom command, and reverse shell. For our purposes, we’ll use the reverse shell functionality and provide the PHPSESSID stored in our browser that was stolen earlier. We also must use proxychains in order to route the traffic to the established SSH tunnel. This can be done by adding the line
socks5 127.0.0.1 80 to the end of
/etc/proxychains.conf. Using the
proxychains -q command at the beginning of the exploit command routes the traffic through the proxy.
Now, although the reverse shell works pretty good, SSH access is always preferred. We can add an SSH public key to this new user’s configuration to log in with SSH.
Matt also has
user.txt, so that’s one flag down!
One of the first things I always check when enumerating for privilege escalation is SUID binaries. We can check the entire system for SUID binaries with the command below. There’s one particular SUID binary that stands out at
$ find / -perm -u=s -type f 2>/dev/null /usr/bin/sudo /usr/bin/pkexec /usr/bin/chfn /usr/bin/newgrp /usr/bin/gpasswd /usr/bin/umount /usr/bin/pandora_backup /usr/bin/passwd /usr/bin/mount /usr/bin/su /usr/bin/at /usr/bin/fusermount /usr/bin/chsh
We can run this binary in the context of the root user, but we need to know what it does in order to exploit it. I copied the compiled binary to my system and ran
strings on it. This indicated that the binary was running the
tar command but did not explicitly specify to use
/usr/bin/tar. This means that the system will automatically search in our
PATH for a
tar executable. We can edit our
PATH, so this means we can create a malicious tar executable and add its location to the beginning of our
PATH. This way,
pandora_backup will end up running our fake
tar with root privileges rather than the real one. We can create a basic fake
tar and edit our
PATH to include it like below. Running the SUID binary gives root!
That’s root! The
root.txt flag is then available in
Other than the points on HackTheBox, the lessons learned are the real treasures for this box.
- Missing Absolute Paths – A script or binary not referencing the absolute path such as
/usr/bin/tarfor one of its dependencies is an easy mistake and a crucial one in the case of an SUID binary.
- Creating Exploits – Creating your own exploits and tools is often a great way to learn a lot about a particular vulnerability while also practicing coding along the way. I do this through my UNICORD project which I will describe further in a future post.
Thank you for reading my write-up for the Pandora machine on HackTheBox. Be sure to check out my other write-ups for HackTheBox!