Privilege escalation is a vital phase of the penetration testing process, one we may revisit multiple times during an engagement. During our assessments, we will encounter a large variety of operating systems and applications. Most often, if we can exploit a vulnerability and gain a foothold on a host, it will be running some version of Windows or Linux. Both present a large attack surface with many tactics and techniques available to us for escalating privileges. This path teaches the core concepts of local privilege escalation necessary for being successful against Windows and Linux systems. The path covers manual enumeration and exploitation and the use of tools to aid in the process.
Privilege escalation is a crucial phase during any security assessment. During this phase, we attempt to gain access to additional users, hosts, and resources to move closer to the assessment's overall goal. There are many ways to escalate privileges. This module aims to cover the most common methods emphasizing real-world misconfigurations and flaws that we may encounter in a client environment. The techniques covered in this module are not an exhaustive list of all possibilities and aim to avoid extreme "edge-case" tactics that may be seen in a Capture the Flag (CTF) exercise.
After gaining a foothold, elevating our privileges will provide more options for persistence and may reveal information stored locally that can further our access in the environment. Enumeration is the key to privilege escalation. When you gain initial shell access to the host, it is important to gain situational awareness and uncover details relating to the OS version, patch level, any installed software, our current privileges, group memberships, and more. Windows presents an enormous attack surface and, being that most companies run Windows hosts in some way, we will more often than not find ourselves gaining access to Windows machines during our assessments. This covers common methods while emphasizing real-world misconfigurations and flaws that we may encounter during an assessment. There are many additional "edge-case" possibilities not covered in this module. We will cover both modern and legacy Windows Server and Desktop versions that may be present in a client environment.