Deathnote – Writeup – Vulnhub – Walkthrough

Deathnote is an easy machine from vulnhub and is based on the anime “Deathnote”. Furthermore, this is quite a straightforward machine. Also, this machine works on VirtualBox. In this CTF machine, one gets to learn to identify information from different pages, bruteforcing passwords and abusing sudo. “Deathnote – Writeup – Vulnhub – Walkthrough”

Link to the machine:,739/

Identify the target

Firstly, I identified the IP address of the target machine.

sudo netdiscover -r
The IP address of the target is

Scan open ports

Next, I scanned the open ports on the target to know the exposed services on the target.

nmap -v -T4 -p- -sC -sV -oN nmap.log
Nmap result shows SSH and HTTP ports

Here, we can see that the target has SSH and HTTP ports open. Thus, let’s check the webserver.

Enumerate the webserver

Upon opening the default page, we see a page redirection to ‘deathnote.vuln’. Thus, I added the host to my /etc/hosts file.

/etc/hosts file

So, when I refreshed the page, I got a WordPress site and some possible hints.

Homepage snip

Here, we got two possible usernames kira and L. Likewise, there is a link to a hint page as well. Also, upon scrolling, we get a possible password in a comment by L.

A possible password

Furthermore, on the hints page, we see more information.

Hint Page

From the server, we need to get a file notes.txt. This could be inside the WordPress site. Moreover, if we check the robtos.txt path, we get a path.

robots.txt has a path

The path /important.jpg isn’t as important as it looks like. But this gives extra information about the target. That is, the file extensions can be deceiving. The path doesn’t contain an image but just text.


This also confirms our initial assumptions. So, let’s try to log into the WordPress site using credentials ‘kira’ and ‘iamjustic3’.

Dashboard of WordPress

From the Media section of the dashboard, we have the notes.txt file.

Link to the notes.txt

Thus, I downloaded the file which contains the password wordlist.

notes.txt wordlist file

Now, we need to identify the username to try bruteforcing.

Finding usernames on the target

We already know that the possible usernames ‘l’ and kira. If we bruteforce using these usernames, we find the password for the user ‘l’.

Hydra cracks the password for the user ‘l’

However, there is another way to find the usernames on the target, i.e. by uploading a shell using WordPress. As we know, the user kira is an administrator of the WordPress site. We can do this in various ways – updating themes, plugins or by using Metasploit. In this machine, updating of the theme files are restricted using the theme editor.

Error while updating the 404.php file

Next, there is a plugin called ‘Hello Dolly’ that comes by default. This is mostly used by hackers to upload a shell. I am using and pentestmonkey. I will be using port 9001 to listen on.

nc -nlvp 9001 and PHP pentestmonkey

I copied the code to the hello.php file in plugin editor.

Plugin editor

Now, I could visit the path of the PHP file from the browser to get the shell. Next, I upgraded the shell.


Upgrade to an intelligent reverse shell

www-data shell

Now that I have a shell, I can find the users on the target.

grep bash /etc/passwd
Users on the target

But, in this machine, we just require a shell to move further. Thus, we can either bruteforce the password of the user L using notes.txt or search for a password for another user kira. The author might have missed providing proper permissions. However, the user flag is on the user l’s home directory. In this writeup, I will be continuing as the user www-data.

Gain password of the user kira

There is a directory L inside /opt directory.

Hints to get the password of kira

As said on the hint file, I fired up cyberchef and pasted the hex codes on it. This gave an output as a base64 encoded text. Thus, I decoded this as well.

Password of kira

Next, we can log into the user kira.

The shell of kira

Now, I could further enumerate as the user kira. The sudo permissions of kira are as follows.

User kira can execute as root

As we can see above, the user kira can execute anything as any user. Therefore, we can get the root shell.

Root shell

Finally, we get to the root user like this.

Check my walkthrough of Dragon Ball

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