Jason Turley's Website

TryHackMe: Gaming Server Writeup

An Easy Boot2Root box for beginners.

Link to room: https://tryhackme.com/room/gamingserver



I ran nmap to scan the network for open ports and services:

nmap -sV -sC -Pn $IP

nmap scan

The target has ssh and http open. I headed to the web server and found the following comment in the source code:

john, please add some actual content to the site! lorem ipsum is horrible to look at.

Maybe this is a username that can be used to login to ssh later?


Now that all the relevant data on the homepage has been found, time to scan the web server for hidden directories. My favorite tool for this is gobuster:

gobuster dir -w /usr/share/wordlists/dirbuster/directory-list-2.3-medium.txt -u http://$IP:80

gobuster scan

Looks like gobuster found two hidden directories: /uploads and /secret.

Inside /uploads is “dict.lst”, a list of passwords. Inside of /secret is a private RSA key named “secretKey”.

Gaining Access

The secretKey can be used to ssh into the target as john, but it is passphrase protected. John The Ripper (JTR) can easily crack this passphrase.

But first, the RSA key needs to be converted into a format that JTR will like. This can be done with ssh2john.py.

/opt/john/ssh2john.py secretKey > for_john.txt

Now run JTR:

JTR crack

(Note: If you get the error that secretKey permissions are too open, run this: chmod 0600 secretKey)

Once the passphrase has been cracked, ssh into the target device as john. The flag is in his home directory.

Privilege Escalation

I think it is important to highlight ideas I tried that did not work on this device. They are valid techniques that may come in handy in other CTF challenges. If you are just looking for the answer, skip to the Solution section.

Failed Attempt #1: sudo -l

In order to get the root user’s flag, we need to escalate our priviliges. I always begin by running sudo -l but this requires us to know john’s password, which we don’t.

Failed Attempt #2: searching for setuid binaries

My next approach was to find any setuid binaries that may give us a shell with help from GTFOBins.

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

This is a command that can easily get a privileged shell with sudo /usr/bin/pkexec /bin/sh. However, we cannot use it without knowing john’s password :(


After my first two ideas did not go anywhere, I decided to upload and run linpeas on the target to look for further privilege escalation options.

The script showed that john is in the lxd group. lxc is a Linux container and lxd is a daemon that runs lxc. After some googling, I found this great article on lxd privilege escalation.

Following the steps in the article, I was able to spawn a shell as the root user and print the flag.