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Hacking ProFTPd on port 2121 and hacking the services on port 1524

In our previous article, we have seen how to exploit the rexec and remotelogin services running on ports 512 and 513 of our target Metasploitable 2 system. In this article, we will be hacking proftpd on port 2121 and the service running on port 1524 which are next in the Nmap scan report as shown below. On running a verbose scan, we can see that the service running on port 1524 is Metasploitable Root shell.

hacking proftpd

What is this Root shell? In our Metasploitable Tutorials, we have seen a number of ways to gain a shell or meterpreter session on the target system. But those shells were obtained by hacking some software present on the system. This shell is deliberately left on the system. But why would someone leave a shell deliberately on a system?
In cyber security, there is a concept called trapdoors or backdoors. As soon as hackers gain access to a system by hacking something on it, they plant an easy and quick method to once again come back into the system. This is known as trapdoor or backdoor.

The shell on port 1524 is a shell like that. Usually to prevent other hackers from gaining access to the system through their backdoor they use protection like passwords etc. Here it seems the hacker forgot to secure it. Normally backdoors like these are enabled on some common ports which evoke less suspicion from cyber security personnel. But how do we gain access to this shell? Although there are a number of ways to do this, the easiest way is telnet.
Open telnet and telnet to the port 1524 as shown below. As you can see highlighted below, we got a shell with Root access without doing much.

Try out some linux commands to verify we got a shell with some interaction.

As you can see in the above image, we have shell with ROOT privileges. We can even change the target system’s password now. Now let’s move on to hacking ProFTPd.
Verbose scan has reported that a FTP server named ProFTPd server version 1.3.1 is running on port 2121. I googled for any vulnerabilities present in the particular version but got none. If you remember, we already hacked one FTP server running on port 21.
I used banner grabbing method of telnet (we showed you in detail about this method in of our Hackercool magazine) to see if the service will reveal any more information about itself. It gave nothing except the usual one.

The usual banner grabbing was not working. But maybe we don’t require a banner.We already have it. So this time, I just tried to connect to the service using telnet (although you can also use FTP for this). When “Escape character is ‘^]’ ” message is displayed, I type command “help”. As expected, it gives me all the commands that can be used. So it seems we already have access to the target server.

To confirm this, I tried one command. It prompted me for username and password. But thanks to an excellent phase of enumeration we performed, we already have the username and password. I decided to try the username/password msfadmin/msfadmin. Voila, it worked and we have access to the system now. Typing PWD command gives me the confirmation that I am inside the system. That’s all with hacking ProFTPd.

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Hacking Rlogin and Rexec Services

In this post, we will be hacking rlogin (remote login) , rexec and remote shell services running on ports 512, 513 and 514 of Metasploitable 2 respectively. Performing a verbose scan on the target gives me the result as shown in the image below.

Before we exploit these services, let me explain as to what these services are. Remote execution service popularly called Rexec is a service which allows users to execute non-interactive commands on another remote system. This remote system should be running a remote exec daemon or server (rexecd) as in the case of our Metasploitable 2 target here. By default, this service requires a valid user name and password for the target system.(For your information, we already have the credentials which we acquired during enumeration).
Rlogin or Remote Login service is a remote access service which allows an authorized user to login to UNIX machines (hosts). This service allows the logged user to operate the remote machine as if he is logged into the physical machine. This service is similar to other remote services like telnet and SSH. This service by default runs on port 513.
Rsh or Remote shell is a remote access service that allows users a shell on the target system. Authentication is not required for this service. By default it runs on port 514.

Although Rsh doesn’t require a password, it requires the username belonging to the remote system. As discussed above, we already have the credentials. In case we don’t have the credentials, we have to crack the passwords as explained in one of our previous posts.
Rsh daemon can be installed in the Kali Linux machine using the command apt-get install rsh-server. Once the installation is over, the below command can be used to get a shell on the target machine. I have tried this with the username root. As you can see, we successfully got a shell on the target system.

How to hack rlogin services

The next service we will target is Remote Login running on port 514. The command to get remote login is given in the image below.

As you can see, we once again got a shell on the target system. Using Rexec is also almost similar to the methods shown above. That was about hacking rlogin, rexec and remote shell services. Learn how to hack ProFtpd service.

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Hacking the SSH server, again

In the previous howto, we have seen how to research about a vulnerability in the FTP service running on our target system and exploit it to gain a shell on that system. In this howto, we will see hacking the SSH service running on port 22. It can be seen that the target is running OPenSSH 4.7p1 SSH server.

I googled about the above mentioned version to find out if it had any vulnerabilities and exploits for those vulnerabilities. After an arduous search, I found one exploit but that seemed to be not working (Its not always a positive result in hacking).

Remember that we already gained a shell on the SSH server in one of our previous howtos. We did this using the credentials we obtained during enumeration of the target system. (This is why enumeration is so important). We used this credentials in a Metasploit SSH login module to get a shell on our target system.

This time we will see another way of gaining access to the SSH server using the same module. This SSH login module can also be used to brute force the credentials of the SSH server. Let’s see how it works. Load the module and check the required options.

In order to brute force the credentials, we need to specify a dictionary for cracking username- s and passwords in the similar fashion we set while using Hydra. We will use the same dictionary we have used while performing password cracking with Hydra.

I have set the same file for both username and passwords. To conserve time I have set the option “stop_on_success” to True. This option will stop the brute forcing if it finds even one login credential. I have set the “verbose” option also to TRUE. This module is normally used to brute force multiple SSH servers at once. That’s the reason it has “RHOSTS” option instead of “RHOST” option. Any how we can still set a single IP as target. All the options are shown as below.

After all the options are set, execute the exploit using the command “run”.

Once the password is cracked successfully, the module displays the credentials and automatically gives us a shell on the target system as shown in the above image. The available sessions can be viewed as shown below.

We can also login into the SSH server using the credentials we obtained prior as shown below.

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Hacking Vsftpd FTP server

In the previous howto, we saw how information about the services running in the target system can help us in researching about them and finding vulnerabilities in those software. In this article, readers will learn about hacking vsftpd. For example, imagine I am a black hat who performed a Nmap scan on the target (in this case, Metasploitable). The target has displayed so many banners of the services running.

Let us see if we can try out the FTP service at port 21 to get access to the system. Since I am a black hat, assume I have not performed any automated vulnerability scan. Following the process shown in the last howto, I google about vsftpd 2.3.4.

I got a lot of information about the FTP service at port 21. Vsftpd stands for very secure FTP daemon and the present version installed on Metasploitable 2 (1.e 2.3.4) has a backdoor installed inside it. It seems somebody already hacked vsftpd and uploaded a backdoor installed Vsftpd daemon. This malicious version of vsftpd was available on the master site between June 30th 2011 and July 1st 2011. So our target might be using the malicious version. While searching for exploit on exploit database, I found a Metasploit exploit for this vulnerability. So I start Metasploit and search for the exploit. I found it after some time.

hacking vsftpd

I loaded the module and checked its options using “show options” command.

The only option required is the IP address of our target to be specified in the RHOST option. I set the RHOST option and execute the exploit using the “run” command.

I successfully got a shell on the target system as shown in the image above. I try out some basic Linux commands. As this shell has root privileges (shown in the above image), I decided to have a look at the passwd file of the target. Here it is.

Since we have shell access, we can perform all tasks which we perform from the terminal of a Linux system. We can even shutdown the remote system but keep in mind that you will lose your access to the system. That’s all in hacking vsftpd service.

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Hacking FTP Telnet and SSH

We have performed two types of enumeration till now. Before we perform further enumeration, let us see whether these credentials we acquired can help us in gaining access to the remote system. We will do this by hacking FTP, telnet and SSH services. When we performed a scan with Nmap during scanning and enumeration stage, we have seen that ports 21,22,23 are open and running FTP, Telnet and SSH services respectively.

Image explaining about hacking ftp telnet


FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. As the name implies, it is used to share or transfer files. This service runs on port 21 by default. Although not quite popular now, it was the most popular way of sharing files in yesteryears. It was quite popular as torrents now, only that FTP is a client-server architecture. Since FTP is used for sharing files, it has a option to enable anonymous downloads. Anonymous download is a type of download where anyone can download the file by logging in with the username of “anonymous” and password as anything. But it a was courtesy to give your email address as password in those days. Enabling anonymous account on FTP server is considered a high security risk especially if the account given not only read but also write permissions. Another disadvantage with FTP is that it uses clear text authentication. So if any hacker is sniffing on your LAN, he can see the username and password in plain text. Ok, Since our target is running FTP service, let us first check if anonymous account is enabled on the server. We can connect to FTP server through terminal by using command “ftp target address” as shown below.

I try to login with the anonymous account with anonymous as the password and the login is successful. Good, anonymous account is enabled on the target. It’s time to check the permissions given to anonymous user.

I type command “pwd” to see the current ftp directory. It’s root directory. Next I use “put” command to upload a random file to the FTP server. As you can see in the above image, file could not be created. So anonymous account has only “read” permissions. Enabling write permissions to the anonymous account may result in propagation of malware, pirated software etc. So anonymous account is secure in this case. Next I decided to try the credentials I got during enumeration. I decided to try with “msfadmin” first. The password is also “msfadmin” for user msfadmin. Login successful. I first checked the contents of the ftp directory. It seems this account has admin rights on the FTP server.

I once again try to upload the “shell.php” into the FTP directory. This time it’s successful.

Now I can upload any malicious file to the server and can use it for any nefarious purpose. or propagation.


Telnet is a network protocol used to remotely administer a system. It is bi-directional and interactive communication protocol. Using telnet we can remotely communicate with a system far away. It runs on port 23. We can connect to a telnet server from terminal just as we connected to a FTP server using command “telnet IP address”. Anyone who successfully logs into telnet will get a shell on the remote system. When I connected to the telnet server of our target system, I didn’t even need any enumeration as the username and password were displayed in the banner.

When I logged in with the credentials msfadmin/msfadmin, as you can see in the below image, I got a normal shell.

Although getting a shell on a remote system is good, we can perform limited operations with this type of shells. But don’t worry, we can get a meterpreter session on the remote system with the help of Metasploit, of course by exploiting telnet.

Start Metasploit and load the telnet module as shown below. Set all the options we need and execute the module by typing command “run”.

You can see that we successfully got a shell just like before. Type command “sessions” to display the sessions we have.

Metasploit provides a wonderful option to upgrade a command shell to meterpreter shell. Load the following post module and the set the session id as that of telnet shell. Run the module.

As you can see in the above image, we successfully got a meterpreter session on the metasploitable system. We can see all the sessions we have using command “sessions”.

We can interact with the session we want by using command “sessions -i id” where id is the session id number. We will see more about meterpreter in our later issues. For the first time, we gained access to the metasploitable system, although with limited privileges.


SSH stands for a secure shell. It was designed as a replacement for telnet and intended to be secure unlike telnet. SSH is a cryptographic network protocol which encrypts the data during remote communication. Thus it provides security and authentication also takes in encrypted format. Thus even if any hacker is sniffing on the local LAN, he still can’t any SSH credentials. SSH by default runs on port 22. Just like it has a telnet module, Metasploit also has a SSH login module. We will use the same credentials msfadmin/msfadmin to login. Load the SSH login module as shown below and configure required options.

Once all the options are set, run the module as shown below.

We have a successful login. Same as above, we can use “sessions” command to view the available sessions. We can also upgrade this SSH shell to meterpreter just as we did in the case of telnet. That was about hacking FTP, telnet and SSH. Learn something advanced hacking with HTA Webserver Exploit

What We Achieved:

Using the details we gathered during enumeration, we have hacked some services on the Metasploitable system. We have also gained shell and meterpreter session on the system.