This post documents the easiest walkthrough of BSides Vancouver: 2018 (Workshop), a boot2root VM created by abatchy, and hosted at VulnHub. If you are uncomfortable with spoilers, please stop reading now.

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This VM aims to create a safe environment to perform real-world penetration testing on an intentionally vulnerable target. As the name implied, the VM appeared as course material in a workshop during 2018 BSides Vancouver.

Information Gathering

Let’s start with a nmap scan to establish the available services in the host.

# nmap -n -v -Pn -p- -A --reason -oN nmap.txt
21/tcp open  ftp     syn-ack ttl 64 vsftpd 2.3.5
| ftp-anon: Anonymous FTP login allowed (FTP code 230)
|_drwxr-xr-x    2 65534    65534        4096 Mar 03 17:52 public
| 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 5
|      vsFTPd 2.3.5 - secure, fast, stable
|_End of status
22/tcp open  ssh     syn-ack ttl 64 OpenSSH 5.9p1 Debian 5ubuntu1.10 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey:
|   1024 85:9f:8b:58:44:97:33:98:ee:98:b0:c1:85:60:3c:41 (DSA)
|   2048 cf:1a:04:e1:7b:a3:cd:2b:d1:af:7d:b3:30:e0:a0:9d (RSA)
|_  256 97:e5:28:7a:31:4d:0a:89:b2:b0:25:81:d5:36:63:4c (ECDSA)
80/tcp open  http    syn-ack ttl 64 Apache httpd 2.2.22 ((Ubuntu))
| http-methods:
|_  Supported Methods: POST OPTIONS GET HEAD
| http-robots.txt: 1 disallowed entry
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.2.22 (Ubuntu)
|_http-title: Site doesn't have a title (text/html).

nmap finds 21/tcp, 22/tcp, and 80/tcp open. None of the services are vulnerable to any remote code execution attacks right off the bat. Let’s explore the ftp service next since we can log in anonymously.

FTP Service

There’s a file users.txt.bk in the public directory—it contains usernames.

# cat users.txt.bk

SSH Service

If I had to guess, I would say these are probably users with an account in the target. Let’s find out.

SSH Login

As you can see, anne is the sole account that can login via SSH with a password. This calls for a brute-force attack.

Hail Hydra

For online brute-force attack, I like to use hydra and the rockyou wordlist. Here’s the command.

# hydra -l anne -P /usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt -f -e nsr -o hydra.txt -t 4 ssh://
[22][ssh] host:   login: anne   password: princess

SSH Access

I don’t believe it—this is way too easy.

SSH Access

Privilege Escalation

Guess what? anne is able to sudo as root.


Eyes on the Prize

I got my eyes on the prize.



Admittedly, this VM is not too difficult since it’s targeting delegates attending the workshop. That’s also the reason why there are other ways to gain remote access and rooting the VM because the instructor would then cover other attack surfaces like WordPress and/or kernel exploit during the workshop.