[CTF] HTB Cascade write-up walkthrough

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This is my write-up and walkthrough for the Cascade box. When commencing this engagement, Cascade was listed in HTB (hackthebox) with a medium difficulty rating.


To get started, I spun up a fresh Kali instance and generated my HTB lab keys. I then connected my Kali instance via HTB's OpenVPN configuration file and pinged the target to check if my instance could reach the Cascade machine.

Ping Machine

As always, I opted to add the target machine IP address to my /etc/hosts file.

To do this I navigated to the /etc/hosts file.

Hosts File

And I added the target IP address and assigned it an identifier label cascade

Add Cascade Host

Now this was set, I could begin my standard recon.

Aligning with my previous write-ups, I used Nmap, which is an open-source network scanner designed to discover hosts, services, and open ports. My objective was to identify what ports might be open on the target machine.

I ran Nmap with the flags sudo nmap -sS -sC -sV cascade -oN scan

These flags told Nmap to do the following:
-sS - Instructs Nmap to not complete the three-way handshake so the connection attempt is not logged on the target.
-sC - Instructs Nmap to scan with default NSE scripts, which is useful and safe for discovery.
-sV - Instructs Nmap to determine the version of any services running on the ports.

Nmap Scan

The Nmap scan results indicated a number of ports were open. As this was a Windows machine, I considered ports 53, 88, 139, 445, and 5985 important.

I decided to run enum4linux to try to enumerate further information.


This pulled a lot of information, some of which was information on the workgroup user's table.

Enum4Linux Results

Next I used ldapsearch and ran some automated LDAP queries to see if I could enumerate any further information on the LDAP directory. As I expected this to generate a lot of data, I output the results to a text file.

Path Traversal

I then opened the file using cat and used less to see if I could identify any LegacyPwd strings.

Path Traversal

Path Traversal

This proved successful and allowed me to identify a base64 encoded legacy password for the r.thompson user account.

I then decoded this using Kali's native base64 decoder which gave me the password rY4n5eva

Decoded rY4n5eva Password

I then opened a Samba client using the smbclient utility and tried to connect using the r.thompson and rY4n5eva credentials.

SMB Login

I did some mapping and noticed that the Data$ sharename provided access to some additional directories.

SMB List

Digging further into the /IT directory identified a folder named /Email Archives which contained a file named Meeting_Notes_June_2018.html

List Subfolder Contents

I decided to use mget to download everything locally.

mget Download Files

I then inspected the Meeting_Notes_June_2018.html file.

Leaked Email

This showed an internal email from the user Steve Smith advising the IT department that an account named TempAdmin was created with the same login credentials as the administrator. As Steve Smith implied they had the privileges to perform this action, I went back to the files I had previously downloaded using mget from the /IT directory, focusing specifically on the VNC Install.reg file pulled from the /s.smith subfolder of the /Temp directory.

VNC Install Reg

Unsurprisingly, this file contained a hex password value. I did some searches on Google and found a popular tool for decoding VNC passwords was vncpwd.exe (File Hash: 7A8DB90DA4FF58A9284E7DB88CEA95CFD817914F).

Running this against the encoded string produced the decoded password of sT333ve2

VNC Password

Using the credentials s.smith and sT333ve2 with Evil-WinRM allowed me to get a shell and access the user flag.

Evil-WinRM Shell

User Flag


This was a fun box and I found it quite realistic too. Admittedly, I only managed to get the user flag (again) and needed some advice from the community along the way, but I'm satisfied with where I got in the end. I recognise I need to brush up on my priv esc skills and hope to find the root flag on this box and others in the future.


Jacob Riggs

Jacob Riggs is the founder of Deadswitch. He is a Security Specialist based in the UK with over a decade of experience working to improve the cyber security of media and third sector organisations. His contributions focus on expanding encryption tools, promoting crypto-anarchist philosophy, and pioneering projects centred on leveraging cryptography to protect the privacy and political freedoms of others.

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