Posts Tagged ‘chmod’

How to move transfer binary files encoded with base64 on Linux with Copy Paste of text ASCII encoded string

Monday, October 25th, 2021


If you have to work on servers in a protected environments that are accessed via multiple VPNs, Jump hosts or Web Citrix and you have no mean to copy binary files to your computer or from your computer because you have all kind of FTP / SFTP or whatever Data Copy clients disabled on remote jump host side or CITRIX server and you still are looking for a way to copy files between your PC and the Remote server Side.
Or for example if you have 2 or more servers that are in a special Demilitarized Network Zones ( DMZ ) and the machines does not have SFTP / FTP / WebServer or other kind of copy protocol service that can be used to copy files between the hosts and you still need to copy some files between the 2 or more machines in a slow but still functional way, then you might not know of one old school hackers trick you can employee to complete the copy of files between DMZ-ed Server Host A lets say with IP address ( -> Server Host B ( The way to complete the binary file copy is to Encode the binary on Server Host A and then, use cat  command to display the encoded string and copy whole encoded cat command output  to your (local PC buffer from where you access the remote side via SSH via the CITRIX or Jump host.). Then decode the encoded file with an encoding tool such as base64 or uuencode. In this article, I'll show how this is done with base64 and uuencode. Base64 binary is pretty standard in most Linux / Unix OS-es today on most Linux distributions it is part of the coreutils package.
The main use of base64 encoding to encode non-text Attachment files to Electronic Mail, but for our case it fits perfectly.
Keep in mind, that this hack to copy the binary from Machine A to Machine B of course depends on the Copy / Paste buffer being enabled both on remote Jump host or Citrix from where you reach the servers as well as your own PC laptop from where you access the remote side.


Base64 Encoding and Decoding text strings legend

The file copy process to the highly secured PCI host goes like this:

1. On Server Host A encode with md5sum command

[root@serverA ~]:# md5sum -b /tmp/inputbinfile-to-encode
66c4d7b03ed6df9df5305ae535e40b7d *inputbinfile-to-encode


As you see one good location to encode the file would be /tmp as this is a temporary home or you can use alternatively your HOME dir

but you have to be quite careful to not run out of space if you produce it anywhere 🙂


2. Encode the binary file with base64 encoding

 [root@serverB ~]:# base64 -w0 inputbinfile-to-encode > outputbin-file.base64

The -w0 option is given to disable line wrapping. Line wrapping is perhaps not needed if you will copy paste the data.


Base64 Encoded string chunk with line wrapping

For a complete list of possible accepted arguments check here.

3. Cat the inputbinfile-to-encode just generated to display the text encoded file in your SecureCRT / Putty / SuperPutty etc. remote ssh access client

[root@serverA ~]:# cat /tmp/inputbinfile-to-encode
EAAOAALAEAAHQAcAAYAAAAEAAA ……………………………………………………………… cTD6lC+ViQfUCPn9bs


4. Select the cat-ted string and copy it to your PC Copy / Paste buffer

If the bin file is not few kilobytes, but few megabytes copying the file might be tricky as the string produced from cat command would be really long, so make sure the SSH client you're using is configured to have a large buffer to scroll up enough and be able to select the whole encoded string until the end of the cat command and copy it to Copy / Paste buffer.


5. On Server Host B paste the bas64 encoded binary inside a newly created file

Open with a text editor vim / mc or whatever is available

[root@serverB ~]:# vi inputbinfile-to-encode

Some very paranoid Linux / UNIX systems might not have even a normal text editor like 'vi' if you happen to need to copy files on such one a useful thing is to use a simple cat on the remote side to open a new File Descriptor buffer, like this:

[root@server2 ~]:# cat >> inputbinfile-to-encode <<'EOF'
Paste the string here


6. Decode the encoded binary with base64 cmd again

[root@serverB ~]:# base64 –decode outputbin-file.base64 > inputbinfile-to-encode


7. Set proper file permissions (the same as on Host A)

[root@serverB ~]:#  chmod +x inputbinfile-to-encode


8. Check again the binary file checksum on Host B is identical as on Host A

[root@serverB ~]:# md5sum -b inputbinfile-to-encode
66c4d7b03ed6df9df5305ae535e40b7d *inputbinfile-to-encode

As you can md5sum match on both sides so file should be OK.


9. Encoding and decoding files with uuencode

If you are lucky and you have uuencode installed (sharutils) package is present on remote machine to encode lets say an archived set of binary files in .tar.gz format do:

Prepare the archive of all the files you want to copy with tar on Host A:

[root@Machine1 ~]:#  tar -czvf /bin/whatever /usr/local/bin/htop /usr/local/bin/samhain /etc/hosts archived-binaries-and-configs.tar.gz

[root@Machine1 ~]:# uuencode archived-binaries-and-configs.tar.gz archived-binaries-and-configs.uu

Cat / Copy / paste the encoded content as usual to a file on Host B:

Then on Machine 2 decode:

[root@Machine2 ~]:# uuencode -c < archived-binaries-and-configs.tar.gz.uu



In this short method I've shown you a hack that is used often by script kiddies to copy over files between pwn3d machines, a method which however is very precious and useful for sysadmins like me who has to admin a paranoid secured servers that are placed in a very hard to access environments.

With the same method you can encode or decode not only binary file but also any standard input/output file content. base64 encoding is quite useful stuff to use also in bash scripts or perl where you want to have the script copy file in a plain text format . Datas are encoded and decoded to make the data transmission and storing process easier. You have to keep in mind always that Encoding and Decoding are not similar to encryption and decryption as encr. deprytion gives a special security layers to the encoded that. Encoded data can be easily revealed by decoding, so if you need to copy between the servers very sensitive data like SSL certificates Private RSA / DSA key, this command line utility tool better to be not used for sesitive data copying.



Linux: /var/log/wtmp – No such file or directory quick fix and why it might be missing on a server

Thursday, May 4th, 2017


If you have to occasionally log  into some client old inherited (not installed by you) Linux servers on and just out of curiosity and for security sake dediced do a quick security (last user login) evaluation, e.g. issued the
last command just to find out you get the error:

last: /var/log/wtmp: No such file or directory

Perhaps this file was removed by the operator to prevent logging last info.

Then this might be a sure indicator that some malicious script kiddie (hax0r) activity has been run over the server or the ex-system administrator if fired recently decided to wipe out all his login tracks among with installing some other nasty rootkit or backdoor.

Under some circumstances the error might be caused also by badly written end user rotate script bugs (like shell or perl script) bugs or by a buggy deployment of Linux OS virtual machine.
The last: /var/log/wtmp: No such file or directory error is likely to happen on Ubuntu / Debian / Redhat / CentOS Linux distributions running on a Cloud PaaS service such as Amazon EC2, some of the Cloud services vendors do choose to explicitly remove /var/log/wtmp for the reason that many of end customers are using their Linux VM servers (Xen Virtualization / OpenVZ / LXC – Linux Containers) etc. irresponsibly and hence become a victim of script kiddie attacks and the failed logins attempts logged in /var/log/wtmp grow to many gigabytes.

Even some Linux distributions or system administrators of Linux server login hosts that has to keep tens of thousands of  login records monthly or are concentrating on simplicity and on an attempt to reduce size has purposefully deleted the last login entry file /var/log/wtmp file to save space.

But anyways if you happen to be missing this file always bear in mind that you might have been a victim of intrusion and you better run chkrootkit and rkhunter

Run below commands to fix the missing /var/log/wtmp

touch /var/log/wtmp
chmod 0664 /var/log/wtmp
chown root:utmp /var/log/wtmp

On some Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Fedora you might also want to create /var/log/btmp (which is used to log failed login attempts to server)

touch /var/log/btmp
chmod 0664 /var/log/btmp
chown root:utmp /var/log/btmp

Once the files are created the last command will start logging server in logins and logouts as it is supposed to be again, e.g.:

linux:~# last -15
root pts/0 Fri May 5 16:41 still logged in

This article was inspired by a prior article found on the site is in Bulgarian so unfortunately you might not be able to read it, but as a content and concept it is pretty similar to, actually the site author Nikolay Nikolov (known in Internet Relay Chat IRC under the pseudonym Joni-B, happened to be an old friend from youth geek IT years 🙂


WordPress Security: Fix WordPress wp-config.php improper permissions to protect your sites from Database password steal / Website deface

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Keeping WordPress Site / Blog and related installed plugins up-to-date
is essential to prevent an attacker to hack into your Site / Database and deface your site, however if you're a company providing shell access from Cpanel / Plesk / Kloxo Panel to customers often customers are messing up permissions leaving important security credential files such as wp-config.php (which is storing user / pass credentials about connection to MySQL / PostgreSQL to have improper permissions and be world readable e.g. have permissions such as 666 or 777 while in reality the WordPress recommended permissions for wp-config.php is 600. I will skip here to explain in details difference between file permissions on Linux as this is already well described in any Linux book, however I just will recommend for any Share hosting Admin where Wordperss is hosted on Lighttpd / Apache Webserver + Some kind of backend database to be extra cautious.

Hence it is very useful to list all your WordPress sites on server wp-config.php permissions with find like this:


find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1;


I find it a generally good practice to also automatically set all wp-config.php permissions to 600 (6= Read / Write  permissions only for File Owner  user 0 = No permissions for All groups, 0 = No Permissions for all non-owner users)

If find command output gives you some file permissions such as:

ls -al /var/www/wordpress-bak/wp-config.php
-rw-rw-rw- 1 www-data www-data 2654 jul 28  2009 wp-config.php


E.g. file permission has 666 permissions (Readable for all users), then it is wise to fix this with:

chmod 600 /var/www/wordpress-bak/wp-config.php

It is generally a very good practice to run also a chmod 600 to each and every found wp-config.php file on server:

find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1 -exec chmod 600 '{}' \;

Above command will also print each file to whcih permission is set to Read / Write for Owner (this si done with -print1 option).

It is a good practice for shared hosting server to always configure a root cronjob to run above find chmod command at least once daily (whenever server hosts 50 – 100 wordpress+ more sites).

crontab -u root -l | { cat; echo “05 03 * * * find /  -iname 'wp-config.php' -print1 -exec chmod 600 '{}' \; } | crontab – 

If you don't have the 600 permissions set for all wp-config.php files this security "backdoor" can be used by any existing non-root user to be read and to break up (crack)  in your database and even when there are Deface bot-nets involved to deface all your hosted server wordpress sites.

One of my servers with wordpress has just recently suffered with this little but very important security hole due to a WordPress site directory backup  with improper permissions which allowed anyone to enter MySQL database, so I guess there are plenty of servers with this hidden vulnerability silently living.

Many thanks to my dear friend (Dimitar PaskalevNomen for sharing with me about this vulnerability! Very important note to make here is admins who are using some security enhancement modules such as SuPHP (which makes Apache webserver to run Separate Website instances with different user), should be careful with his set all wp-config.php modules to Owner, as it is possible the wp-config.php owner change to make customer WP based websites inaccessible.

Another good security measure to  protect your server WordPress based sites from malicious theme template injections (for both personal own hosted wordpress based blog / sites or a WordPress hosting company) is to install and activate WordPress Antivirus plugin.

Linux find files while excluding / ignoring some files – Show all files on UNIX excluding hidden . (dot) files

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

A colleague of mine (Vasil) asked me today, how he can recursively chmod to all files in a directory while exclude unreadable files for chmod (returning permission denied). He was supposed to fix a small script which was supposed to change permissions like :

chmod 777 ./
chmod: cannot access `./directory': Permission denied
chmod: cannot access `./directory/file': Permission denied
chmod: cannot access `./directory/onenote': Permission denied

First thing that came to my mind was to loop over it with for loop and grep out only /directory/ and files returning permissioned denied.

for i in $(find . -print | grep -v 'permission denied'); do echo chmod 777 $i; done

This works but if chmod has to be done to few million of files, this could be a real resource / cpu eater.

The better way to do it is by only using Linux find command native syntax to omit files.

find . -type f ( -iname "*" ! -iname "onenote" ! -iname "file" )

Above find will print all files in . – current directory from where find is started, except files: onenote and file.
To exclude

Search and show all files in Linux / UNIX except hidden . (dot) files

Another thing he wanted to do is ignore printing of hidden . (dot) files like .bashrc, .profile and .bash_history while searching for files – there are plenty of annoying .* files.

To ignore printing with find all filesystem hidden files from directory:

find . -type f ( -iname "*" ! -iname ".*" )

on web hosting webservers most common files which is required to be omitted on file searches is .htaccess

find . -type f ( -iname "*" ! -iname ".htaccess" )

  In order to print only all hidden files in directory except .bashrc and .bash_profile:

find . -type f ( -iname '.*' ! -iname '.bashrc' ! -iname '.bash_profile' )

Another useful Linux find use for scripting purposes is listing only all files presented in current directory (simulating ls), in case if you wonder why on earth to use find and not a regular ls command?, this is useful for scripts which has to walk through millions of files (for reference see how to delete million of files in same folder with Linux find):

find . ! -name . -prune


"! -name . " –  means any file other than current directory

prune – prunes all the directories other than the current directory.

A more readable way to list only files in current folder with find is – identical to what above cmd:

find ./* -prune


If you want to exclude /mnt folder and its sub-directories and files with find by using prune option:

find . -name tmp -prune -o -print



screen -d Fix “Must run suid root for multiuser support.” su user detach error

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I had to run a shell script to run automatically in detached screen during Linux system boot up via /etc/rc.local. This is needed because the server uses the tiny shell script to fetch data from remote host database and fill information into local MySQL server.

My idea was to su from root to www-data (Apache) user – the script has requirements to run with Apache user, then it has to run detached using GNU screen (multi terminal emulator. The tiny one line script I imagined would do the trick is like so:

# tty=$(tty); su www-data -c 'cd /home/user/www/enetpulse; screen -d /home/user/www/enetpulse/'; chmod 0720 $tty

I run this as root user to test whether it will work or not before I put it in /etc/rc.local but for my surprise got an error:

Must run suid root for multiuser support.

After a quick investigation on what is causing it I came across the solution which is to include screen arguments (-m -S shared). The working variant that gets around the error – i.e. successfully changes user privileges to Debian Apache user (www-data) and then detach with screen is:

# tty=$(tty); chmod a+rw $tty; su www-data -c 'cd /home/user/www/enetpulse; screen -d -m -S shared /home/user/www/enetpulse/'; chmod 0720 $tty;

That's all now script works out as planned on next server reboot

How to install Microsoft Windows XP SP3 on Debian GNU / Linux Squeeze

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Windows XP Service Pack 3 QEMU Debian Squeeze

I have never did a proper install of Windows XP on Debian before hand. Even though I experimented once long time ago. I had zero success with installing Windows XP Service Pack 2 . The only Windows I can make correctly working before hand on these early days on my Debian powered notebook with qemu virtual machine emulator was Windows 2000 .

I decided to give it another go today as I hoped the qemu has advanced and I’ve seen many reports online of people who were able to correctly make Windows XP SP2 work out.

As I’ve seen many blog posts online of people who succesfully run with qemu Windows XP SP2, in order to escape from repeating the other guys experience and conduct a fresh experiment, I decided to give qemu a try with Microsoft.Windows.XP.Professional.SP3.Integrated.June.2011.Corporate

Before I proceed with using latest qemu I,

1. Installed qemu using the usual:

debian:~# apt-get install --yes qemu qemu-keymaps qemu-system qemu-user qemu-utils uml-utilities


2. Created a new directory where the qemu Windows image will be stored:

debian:~# su hipo
hipo@noah:~$ mkdir windows
hipo@noah:~$ cd windows

As a following step I loaded the tun kernel module which is necessery for Qemu to properly handle the Windows LAN networking.

3. Load and set proper permissions for tun kernel module

In case if /dev/net is not existing first step is to create the proper device, however in most cases /dev/net should be there:

debian:~# mkdir -p /dev/net
debian:~# mknod /dev/net/tun c 10 200

As a next step its necessery to load tun kernel module and set the proper permissions:

debian:~# modprobe tun
debian:~# echo 'tun' >> /etc/modules
debian:~# chgrp users /dev/net/tun
debian:~# chmod g+w /dev/net/tun

Next step is to create an image file with dd or with qemu-img which will be holding the Virtual Machine Windows installation.

4. Create image file for Windows using dd

I decided to create a the image file to be with a size of 5 Gigabytes, this is of course custom so other people might prefer having it less or more the absolute minimum for a proper Windows XP SP3 install is 2000 Megabytes.

debian:~# su hipo -; cd windows;
debian:/home/hipo/windows$ dd of=hd.img bs=1024 seek=5000000 count=0
0+0 records in
0+0 records out
0 bytes (0 B) copied, 1.5505e-05 s, 0.0 kB/s

Notice here that the file dd will create will appear like 0 kb file until the Windows install from a BootCD is run with qemu.

5. Download an image of Microsoft.Windows.XP.Professional.SP3.Integrated.June.2011.Corporate from

Microsoft.Windows.XP.Professional.SP3.Integrated.June.2011.Corporate is currently available for download from the if in the times to come it is not available it will most likely be available from, etc. so I’ll skip more explanations with this step and let you use your favourite torrent program of choice to download the MS Windows iso. Just to make a note here I used transmission as this is my favourite torrent client. After downloading the iso I used K3B to burn the Image file as Bootable ISO. I’m naturally a GNOME user so to burn it as Image I just open it with K3B by using the GNOME menu and selecting Open with K3B

Next I instructed qemu to boot from the just burnt CD.

6. Boot windows Installation with Qemu from the Boot CD

debian:/home/hipo/windows$ qemu -boot d -cdrom /dev/cdrom -hda hd.img

Notice here that I’m running the qemu virtual machine emulator with a non-privileged reasons. This is important as qemu might have holes in the emulation of Windows Networking stack which if executed as root superuser. Can allow some malicious attacker to remotely compromise your GNU / Linux PC …

Qemu window will pop-up where one installs the Windows as it will install it using an ordinary PC. To switch qemu to fullscreen mode to have the complete feeling like installing Windows on an non-emulated PC ctrl + alt + f can be pressed.

The Windows installation took like 1 hour 20 minutes on my dual core 1.8 Ghz notebook with 2 GB of RAM. But I should say while installing I had multiple applications running; xmms, transmission, epiphany, icedove, evince etc. probably if I just run the Virtual Machine with no other applications to extra load my PC, probably the Windows install would have been done in max 50 minutes time.

After the installation is complete. To

7. Further run the installed Windows debian:/home/hipo/windows$ qemu -hda hd.img -boot c

As a next step its necessery to;

8. Bring up the tap0 interface and configure it for the user

I’m running my qemu emulator with my user hipo , so I run cmds:

debian:/home/hipo/windows$ su - root
debian:~# tunctl -u hipo
Set 'tap0' persistent and owned by uid 1000

9. Enable ip_forwarding and arp proxy and for wlan0 and tap0

debian:~# echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/wlan0/proxy_arp
debian:~# echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/tap0/proxy_arp
debian:~# echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/tap0/proxy_arp

10. Install the proper Network Drivers inside Windows

That’s just in case, if they’re not supported by the Windows default existing drivers.
To do so, I downloaded my LAN drivers from the Vendor and put it on USB and sticked the USB drive to my laptop. In order to make the Kingston USB drive I used to transfer my LAN and Video drivers. I had to restart qemu with the parameter -usb -usbdevice host:0951:1625 , where I used lsusb to check and get the correct USB ID 0951:1625, like shown in the command below:

debian:~# lsusb |grep -i kingston
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0951:1625 Kingston Technology DataTraveler 101 II

After on I booted again the Windows XP with the following command line in order to make qemu detect the USB Drive:

debian:/home/hipo/windows# sudo qemu -boot c -hda hd.img -usb -usbdevice host:0951:1625

One oddity here is that in order for qemu to detect the USB stick, I had to run it via sudo with super user privileges.Don’t ask me why this is the only way it worked …
Next on used the Windows device manager from Control Panel -> System -> Device Manager to point my undetected hardware to the correct Win drivers.

For the GUI preferring user qemu has a nice GNOME GUI interface called qemu-launcher, if you like to use qemu via it instead of scripting the qemu launcher commands, you can install and use via:

debian:~# apt-get install --yes qemu-launcher qemuctl
debian:/home/hipo/windows$ qemu-launcher

QEMU-Launcher Debian Squeeze Screenshot

Another GUI alternative to qemu-launcher, which easifys the work with qemu is qemulator; here is a screenshot:

Qemulator 0.5 - Qemu GUI Screenshot Debian Squeeze