Linux Privilege Escalation by Exploiting Cronjobs

After solving several OSCP Challenges we decided to write the article on the various method used for Linux privilege escalation, that could be helpful for our readers in their penetration testing project. In this article, we will learn “Privilege Escalation by exploiting Cron Jobs” to gain root access of a remote host machine and also examine how a bad implement cron job can lead to Privilege escalation. If you have solved CTF challenges for Post exploit then by reading this article you will realize the several loopholes that lead to privileges escalation.

For details, you can read our previous article where we had applied this trick for privilege escalation. Open the links given below:

Link1: Hack the Box Challenge: Europa Walkthrough

Link2: Hack the Milnet VM (CTF Challenge)

Table of content

  • Introduction
  • Cron job
  • Crontab syntax
  • Crontab File overwrite
  • Lab Setup (Ubuntu)
  • Exploiting cron job (Kali Linux)
  • Crontab Tar wildcard Injection
  • Lab Setup (Ubuntu)
  • Exploiting cron job (Kali Linux)

Let’s Start!!!

What is cron job?

Cron Jobs are used for scheduling tasks by executing commands at specific dates and times on the server. They’re most commonly used for sysadmin jobs such as backups or cleaning /tmp/ directories and so on. The word Cron comes from crontab and it is present inside /etc directory.


For example:  Inside crontab we can add following entry to print apache error logs automatically in every 1 hour.

Crontab File overwrite

Lab Setup for Poorly configured cron job

 Objective: Set a new job with help of crontab to run a python script which will erase all data from in a particular directory.

Let assume “cleanup” is the directory whose data will be cleared automatically in every two minutes. Thus we have saved some data inside /home/cleanup.

As you can observe from given image some files are stored inside cleanup directory.

Now write a python program in any other directory to delete data from inside /home/cleanup and give it all permission.

chmod 777

At last schedule a task with help of crontab to run for every 2 minutes.

Now let’s verify the objectives

Coool!! It is working, as you can see all file has been deleted after two minutes.

Post Exploitation

Start your attacking machine and first compromise the target system and then move to privilege escalation stage. Suppose I successfully login into victim’s machine through ssh and access non-root user terminal. Execute the following command as shown below.

 From above steps, we notice the crontab is running python script in every two minutes now let’s exploit.

There so many methods to gain root access as in this method we enabled SUID bits /bin/dash. It is quite simple, first, open the file through some editor, for example, and replace “rm -r /tmp/*” from the following line as given below

After two minutes it will set SUID permission for /bin/dash and when you will run it will give root access.

Awesome!! We hit the Goal…………………

Crontab Tar Wildcard Injection

Lab Setup

Objective: schedule a task with help of crontab to take backup with tar archival program of HTML directory.

The directory should have executable permission whose backup you are going to take.

Now schedule a task with help of crontab to run tar archival program for taking backup of /html inside /var/backups in every 1 minute.

Let’s verify the schedule is working or not by executing following command.

From given below image you can notice the html.tgz file has been generated after 1 minute.

Post Exploitation

Start your attacking machine and first compromise the target system and then move to privilege escalation stage. Suppose I successfully login into victim’s machine through ssh and access non-root user terminal. Then open crontab to view if any job is scheduled.

cat /etc/crontab

Here we notice the target has scheduled a tar archival program for every 1 minute and we know that cron job runs as root. Let’s try to exploit.

Execute following command to grant sudo right to logged user and following post exploitation is known as wildcard injection.

Now after 1 minute it will grant sudo right to the user: ignite as you can confirm this with the given below image.

YUPPIEEEE!!! We have successfully obtained root access.

Author: AArti Singh is a Researcher and Technical Writer at Hacking Articles an Information Security Consultant Social Media Lover and Gadgets. Contact here

Hack the Box Challenge: Chatterbox Walkthrough

Hello friends!! Today we are going to solve another CTF challenge “Chatterbox” which is categories as retired lab presented by Hack the Box for making online penetration practices. 

Level: Easy

Task: find user.txt and root.txt file on victim’s machine.

Since these labs are online accessible therefore they have static IP. The IP of chatterbox is so let’s initiate with nmap port enumeration.

It has shown two ports are open but didn’t disclose running services through them.

Therefore we took help from Google and asked to look for any exploit related to these port as shown in the below image. So it put up two exploits related to Achat. First, we tried Metasploit exploit to compromise victim’s machine and almost successfully seized meterprerter session, but the session was getting died in few seconds.

Thus we choose the manual technique to compromise victim’s machine by using exploit DB 36025.

Exploit 36025 is already stored inside Kali Linux and we have copied it on the Desktop.

According to this python script, it is exploitable to Buffer overflow and highlighted msfvenom code is used to generate payload.

With the help of above script we execute following command to generate payload.

Then copied the generated shellcode.

Now open the original which you have saved on the desktop and paste above-copied shellcode here and then enter victim’s IP ( as Server_address. Now start Netcat for reverse connection before running this script.

nc -lvp 1234

Now run your python script to lunch Buffer overflow attack on victim’s machine.


BOOooOOMM!! Here we command shell of victim’s machine. Let’s finish this task by grabbing both flags.

Inside C:\Users\Alfred\Desktop we found user.txt flag used type “filename” command for reading this file.

Great!! We got our 1st flag successfully

Inside C:\Users\Administrator\Desktop I found the root.txt file and used type “filename” command for reading this file.

But this file didn’t open due to less permission.

With help of following cacls command, we can observe the permission and can change the file’s permissions where we had granted read operate to User: Alfred for the root.txt file.

Congratulation!!  2nd Task is also completed

Author: AArti Singh is a Researcher and Technical Writer at Hacking Articles an Information Security Consultant Social Media Lover and Gadgets. Contact here

Beginner Guide to impacket Tool kit

Impacket is a collection of Python classes for working with network protocols. Impacket is focused on providing low-level programmatic access to the packets and for some protocols (e.g. SMB1-3 and MSRPC). According to the Core Security Website, Impacket supports protocols like IP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, IGMP, ARP, IPv4, IPv6, SMB, MSRPC, NTLM, Kerberos, WMI, LDAP etc.

For the following practical we will require two systems,

  1. A Windows Server with Domain Controller Configured
  2. A Kali Linux

Here, in our lab scenario we have configured the following settings on our systems.

Windows Server Details

  • Domain: SERVER
  • User: Administrator
  • Password: T00r
  • IP Address:

Kali Linux:

Before beginning with the Impacket tools, let’s do a Nmap version scan on the target windows server to get the information about the services running on the Windows Server.

As you can see in the above screenshot, we have domain services, Kerberos Services, Netbios Services, LDAP services and Windows RPC services.

Now let’s install the Impacket tools from GitHub. You can get it from here.

Firstly, clone the git, and then install the Impacket as shown in the screenshot.

This will install Impacket on your Kali Linux, now after installation let’s look at what different tools does Impacket have in its box.

cd impacket/examples

These are the some of the tools included in impacket, let’s try some of them.

Simple ICMP ping that uses the ICMP echo and echo-reply packets to check the status of a host. If the remote host is up, it should reply to the echo probe with an echo-reply packet.


Syntax: ./ [Source IP] [Destination IP]

Here we can see that we are getting the ICMP reply from (Windows Server)

A Windows SID bruteforcer example through [MS-LSAT] MSRPC Interface, aiming at finding remote users/groups.


Syntax: ./ [[domain/] username [: password] @] [Target IP Address]

As you can see that the lookupsid tool had extracted the user and group information from the server

It lets you execute processes on remote windows systems, copy files on remote systems, process their output and stream it back. It allows execution of remote shell commands directly with full interactive console without having to install any client software.


Syntax: ./ [[domain/] username [: password] @] [Target IP Address]

As you can see that we got a remote shell of the server in the given screenshot

This script will dump the list of RPC endpoints and string bindings registered at the target. It will also try to match them with a list of well-known endpoints.


Syntax: ./ [[domain/] username [: password] @] [Target IP Address]

As you can see below we have the list of RPC targets

An application that communicates with the Security Account Manager Remote interface from the MSRPC suite. It lists system user accounts, available resource shares and other sensitive information exported through this service.


Syntax: ./ [[domain/] username [: password] @] [Target IP Address]

As you can see below we have extracted SAM information form the Target Server

Simple packet sniffer that uses the pcapy library to listen for packets in transit over the specified interface.

. /

Choose the interface using the number associated with it. And the sniffing starts.

Simple packet sniffer that uses a raw socket to listen for packets in transit corresponding to the specified protocols.

. /

And the sniffer starts to monitor icmp, tcp and udp

It generates a semi-interactive shell, used through Windows Management Instrumentation. It does not require to install any service/agent at the target server. It runs as Administrator. It is highly stealthy.


Syntax: ./ [[domain/] username [: password] @] [Target IP Address]

As you can se below that we have the shell from the Target Server

It allows to issue WQL queries and get description of WMI objects at the target system.


Syntax: ./ [[domain/] username [: password] @] [Target IP Address]

This will open a shell, where you can run WQL queries like

This example executes a command on the target machine through the Task Scheduler service and returns the output of the executed command.


Syntax: / [[domain/] username [: password] @] [Target IP Address] [Command]

As you can see below that a remote connection was established to the server and the command systeminfo was run on the Target server with the output of the command delivered on the Kali terminal.

This script will connect against a target (or list of targets) machine/s and gather the OS architecture type installed by (ab) using a documented MSRPC feature.


Syntax: ./ -target [IP Address]

Command: ./ -target

Here we can see that the architecture of the target system is 64-bit


This script will bind to the target’s MGMT interface to get a list of interface IDs. It will use that list on top of another list of interfaces UUID and reports whether the interface is listed and/or listening.

Syntax: ./ [Host IP Address] [Port]

Author: Pavandeep Singh is a Technical Writer, Researcher and Penetration Tester Contact here

Linux Privilege Escalation using LD_Preload

Hello friends, today we are going to discuss a new technique of privilege escalation by exploiting an environment variable “LD_Preload” but to practice this you must take some help from our previous article.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • Shared Libraries
  • Shared Libraries Names
  • LD_Preload
  • Lab setup
  • Post-Exploitation


Shared Libraries

Shared libraries are libraries that are loaded by programs when they start. When a shared library is installed properly, all programs that start afterwards automatically use the new shared library. 

Shared Libraries Names

Every shared library has a special name called the soname”. The soname has the prefix lib”, the name of the library, the phrase .so”, followed by a period and a version number.

The dynamic linker can be run either indirectly by running some dynamically linked program or shared object. The programs and* find and load the shared objects (shared libraries) needed by a program, prepare the program to run, and then run it. (read from here)

LD_Preload: It is an environment variable that lists shared libraries with functions that override the standard set, just as /etc/ does. These are implemented by the loader /lib/

For more information read from here.

Lab setup

It is important that logged user must have some sudo rights, therefore, we have given some sudo rights such as /usr/bin/find to be executed by sudo user. But apart from that, there is some Default specification where you can set an environment variable to work as sudo.

To do this follow below steps:

  • Open /etc/sudoers file by typing visudo
  • Now give some sudo rights to a user, in our case “raj” will be members of sudoers.

Raj          ALL=(ALL=ALL) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/find

  • Then add following as default specification to set environment for LD_preload.

Defaults        env_keep += LD_PRELOAD


To exploit such type of vulnerability we need to compromise victim’s machine at once then move to privilege escalation phase. Suppose you successfully login into victim’s machine through ssh now for post exploitation type sudo -l command to detect it. And notice the highlighted environment variable will work as sudo.

Let’s generate a C-program file inside /tmp directory.

Then save it as shell.c inside /tmp.

As discussed let’s compile it to generate a shared object with .so extension likewise .dll file in Windows operating system and hence type following:

Yuppieeee!!!! We got the ROOT access.

Author: AArti Singh is a Researcher and Technical Writer at Hacking Articles an Information Security Consultant Social Media Lover and Gadgets. Contact here

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