pwncat works by try as much as possible not to depend on specific binaries on the remote system. It does this most of the time by selecting an unidentified existing binary from the GTFOBins database in order to perform a generic capability (e.g. file read, file write or shell). However, sometimes a critical binary is missing on the target host which has been removed (either maliciously or never installed). In these situations, obtaining a stable version of all basic binaries is very helpful. To this end, pwncat has the capability to automatically upload a copy of the busybox program to the remote host.

The busybox command manages the installation, status, and removal of the installed busybox. Installing busybox lets pwncat know that it has a list of standard binaries with known good interfaces easily accessible. The busybox command also understands how to locate a busybox binary precompiled for the victim architecture and upload it through the existing C2 channel. The new busybox installation will be installed in a temporary directory, and any further automated tools within pwncat will use it’s implementation of common unix tools.


To install busybox on the remote victim, you can use the --install option to the busybox command. This will first check for an existing, distribution specific, installation on the remote host. If the busybox command exists, it will utilize that vice installing a new copy. If it doesn’t, it will begin proxying a connection to the official busybox servers to upload a busybox binary specific to the victim architecture.

After installation, pwncat will examine the endpoints provided by busybox, and remove any that are provided SUID by the remote system. This prevents pwncat from replacing the real su binary with busybox su in it’s database.

(local) pwncat$ busybox --install
uploading busybox for x86_64
 100.0% [==================================================>] 1066640/1066640 eta [00:00]
[+] uploaded busybox to /tmp/busyboxIu1gu
[+] pruned 164 setuid entries
(local) pwncat$

Status and Applet List

To check if busybox has been installed and is known by pwncat (for example from a previous session), you can use the --status option. This is the default action, and can be accessed by passing no parameters to busybox:

(local) pwncat$ busybox
[+] busybox is installed to: /tmp/busyboxIu1gu
[+] busybox provides 232 applets
(local) pwncat$

If you would like to see a list of binaries which busybox is currently providing for pwncat, you can use the --list option. This is normally a large list (232 lines in this case), but it is provided for completeness sake.

(local) pwncat$ busybox --list
[+] binaries which the remote busybox provides:
 * [
 * [[
 * acpid
 * add-shell
 * addgroup
 * adduser
 * adjtimex
... removed for brevity ...

Removing Busybox

Busybox is tracked by pwncat as a remote tamper. This means that the tamper command will show that you have installed busybox, and busybox can be uninstalled using the tamper command:

(local) pwncat$ tamper
 0 - installed busybox to /tmp/busyboxIu1gu
(local) pwncat$ tamper -r -t 0
(local) pwncat$ busybox --status
[!] busybox hasn't been installed yet
(local) pwncat$