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  • Writer's pictureDonald Ashdown

Advent of Cyber 2021 Day 3 - Web Exploitation

Below is the official Try Hack Me Story for Day 3 and my walkthrough at the end.

Learning Objectives

In today's task, we're going to be using our investigatory skills and techniques to discover un-listed content, and attempt some common authentication using the clues around us.

What is Content Discovery & Why is it Useful?

Before we begin looking for content, let's define what "content" actually is. Content is the assets and inner workings of the application that we are testing. Contents can be files, folders, or pathways that weren't necessarily intended to be accessed by the general public.

For example, you may have a blog, where you post about your tasty treats! You want everyone to view all of your delicious snacks, but you don't want everyone to be able to manage what delicious snacks are up for review - You may hide the administrator panel away from the public!

Let's expand on this. Web servers, unless configured otherwise, are designed to serve these files and folders, as long as you know the names.

Content discovery is a useful technique to have in our arsenal because it allows us to find things that we aren't supposed to see. For example, we may be able to find:

  • Configuration files

  • Passwords and secrets

  • Backups

  • Content management systems

  • Administrator dashboards or portals

These are just some examples of the types of information that we may be able to uncover by discovering content. We can find these pieces of information because they are stored in either a folder (which will have a name) or a file (which will have both a name and extension). This means that we can search for files by their extension, for example, discovering text files with the extension of .txt.

You can do this manually by thinking of some names such as "admin" or "passwords.txt" and navigating to it in your browser. However, we can use tools to do this process for us at a considerably faster rate. Enter Dirbuster. Dirbuster is a tool that we can use to automate this process for us. The tool works by accepting a wordlist which is a file containing everything that we want to search for, and then a few other arguments. Let's demonstrate this into the snippets below:

Dirbuster will scan the website "santascookies.thm" for the folders listed within this wordlist. To use Dirbuster to discover content on this site, we would use the command dirb and provide some information such as the URL of the website and the location of the word list. Our final command would look like something similar to the snippet below::

In the above, we have provided Dirbuster the following commands:

  1. The URL of the website

  2. The location (full path) on our attacking machine of our wordlist. If you are unfamiliar with this, check out Linux Fundamentals.

Now, once we execute this command, Dirbuster will search for the existence of a directory on the website using every value in the wordlist that we have created.

Your ability to discover content is only as good as your wordlist. You will find another collection of open-source wordlist such as SecLists, where you may be able to use a combination of context and wordlist to discover content.

Default Credentials

Web applications and services often come with a default pair of credentials. Developers leave these credentials in place so that you can quickly get started with the platform (with the hopes that you will change them). However, as you'll come to discover, not everyone does, or in fact, applications often include other accounts that are not well documented. SecLists also provide a wordlist for default credentials, which you can find here.

For example, take a guess at using some common usernames and password combinations for privileged users. This could include:

Sometimes, these credentials are stored in the web applications configuration files or public documentation. For example, this application, "BikeIT", is an open-source application for registering your Bicycle to a community page. The administrator is enabled by default, with credentials provided in both the documentation and source code.

The photo above shows the "Read Me" documentation (or instructions) for the web application.


$password="letmein123"; //change this

The source code contains these default credentials too.

Unless the administrator installing this application changes the credentials, anyone will be able to log in using them if they know to look for these details being published (such as they usually are with open-source projects), or are capable of guessing them.

For today's task, you will need to deploy the vulnerable machine attached to this task by pressing the green "Start Machine" button at the top right of this task and the TryHackMe AttackBox, which can be deployed by pressing the "Start AttackBox" button located at the top-right of the room.


This is a simple challenge where simply launch dirb a command line content discovery script that locates the admin directory for us.

Here we see the default website.

For this challenge we try the classic admin default login in order to gain access.

We successfully login with the administrator:administrator credentials.

Logging in shows the flag.

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