Proj 19x: Pen Test a Host (Up to 50 pts. extra credit)

What You Need for this Project

A Kali VM, and VMware.


To practice the main steps of a penetration test against a single host, as shown below.

For this project, we begin at "Phase 1", after Information Gathering (and host discovery) are complete.

Getting a Target

You can use the VM linked in the box below, or visit Hack the Box, sign up for a free membership, and hack one of those. 

Target VM

Download this file, unzip it, and run it in VMware:


Size: 297,171,095 bytes
SHA-1: 51cab175279a9299ea5c25881f4df21c181f768d

It's got a manual address of

To connect to it:

  • Set your Kali VM to Bridged networking
  • Execute this command: ifconfig eth0
  • Execute this command: ping
  • You should get replies!

Phase 1: Recon and Scanning

First do port scans with nmap and/or sparta.

Then scan with vuln scanners like nikto, nessus, or ZAP. If the target is a Web server, use dirb to enumerate files.

Fill in a chart with your findings, like this:

Research Vulnerabilities

Use Google, searchsploit, exploit-db, etc. to learn about the vulnerabilities you found.

Rate the vulnerabilities by how much actual risk they represent to the business. Sort them into High, Medium, and Low risk.

Phase 2: Exploitation

Exploit the vulnerabilities as possible. Record the results. Test as many remote code execution and privilege escalation vulnerabilities as possible.

Phase 3: Post-Exploitation

Once you have a shell on a box, focus on the primary business of the server. Try to find ways to impact the most important business purposes.

Save screen images to demonstrate your results.

Phase 4: Reporting

Write a report documenting the risks you identified, and proof of their exploitability. Rate your results by their real business impact.

Make your report no longer than 5 pages.

Explain recommendations to remediate the risks.

Prepare a thorough written report, starting with a brief executive summary, followed by appendices with detailed results.

Prepare a brief presentation of your result, and present it in 5-10 minutes.

Here is an example report


This project is based on the work done by CCSF's CPTC 2017 team: Also, the VM used is not original; I based it on one others made, but I can't specify the source without making the project too easy.
Updated 2-21-19