Over the years, ethical hackers have employed a variety of tools and methods to prevent malicious attacks. Of these, penetration testing has established itself as a crucial cornerstone to securing digital assets and ensuring the longevity of businesses.
Cybersecurity professionals have been conducting pentests on a variety of test cases for years now. Over time, their methods have upgraded, and so have their tools.
One tool that has established itself as a key asset among cybersecurity folks is Metasploit.
So, just what is metasploit? How does it work? And how do you use it in pentests?
We’ll address these questions and more in this article.
Let’s dive right in.
What is the Metasploit Framework?
The Metasploit Framework is a powerful and widely-used open-source penetration testing and vulnerability assessment tool.
It provides a range of features and capabilities that enable security professionals to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems, networks, and applications.
The Metasploit Framework was created by H. D. Moore in 2003 and is currently maintained by Rapid7.
It is designed to automate the process of exploiting known vulnerabilities in a variety of platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and mobile devices, to test the security of systems and to provide a framework for the development of custom exploits.
The Framework provides a wide range of modules and tools that can be used to carry out various types of attacks, including network discovery, vulnerability scanning, password cracking, and post-exploitation actions.
It also has a comprehensive database of known vulnerabilities, making it a valuable resource for security professionals and researchers.
One important thing to note is that while the Metasploit Framework is primarily used by security professionals, it has also been abused by malicious actors to launch attacks against vulnerable systems.
Who uses Metasploit?
Metasploit is primarily used by cybersecurity professionals, including penetration testers, red teamers, and ethical hackers, to assess the security of computer systems and networks.
- It is also used by security researchers, exploit developers, and security enthusiasts to study and develop new exploits, payloads, and security tools.
- Organizations also use Metasploit Framework to identify and remediate vulnerabilities in their networks and systems, as part of their ongoing security testing and risk management efforts.
- Metasploit is frequently used in academic and educational settings to teach students about cybersecurity and penetration testing.
- Unfortunately, Metasploit has also been used by malicious actors to launch attacks against vulnerable systems, so it is important to use this tool ethically and responsibly.
It is generally recommended that the Metasploit Framework only be used on systems for which you have obtained explicit permission to test, and only to identify and remediate vulnerabilities.
Benefits and Use Cases of Metasploit
Metasploit has several benefits and uses cases for cybersecurity professionals and organizations.
Let us look at its benefits and use cases in detail
Benefits of Metasploit
Metasploit has earned its reputation in cybersecurity circles for a variety of reasons:
One of the most compelling reasons to utilize Metasploit is the fact that it is licensed under an open-source model and continues to see regular updates.
In contrast to many other penetration testing tools, Metasploit provides a significant amount of customizability because users have full access to the source code and the option to install their bespoke modules.
Smart Payload Generation
The ‘set payload’ command in Metasploit allows testers to swiftly swap between payloads.
When attempting to compromise a system employing shell-based access or Meterpreter, the dynamic scripting tool that comes along with Metasploit provides the tester with a wide variety of possibilities.
Moreover, the MsfVenom application gives testers the ability to build shellcodes manually for manual exploitation directly from the command line.
Clean Exits and Persistency
Metasploit can remain undiscovered even if the target system is not expected to restart once the penetration test has been completed.
It also provides several other methods for obtaining continuing access to a target system.
Metasploit provides several graphical user interfaces (GUIs), the most notable of which is Armitage.
In addition, these graphical user interfaces make it possible for a tester to carry out common penetration testing activities with only the click of a button.
These activities include maintaining vulnerabilities and setting up workspaces.
Use Cases of Metasploit
Metasploit provides a wide range of modules that can be used for penetration testing and security assessment activities. Here are the main categories of modules available:
Exploit modules are designed to take advantage of vulnerabilities in target systems and provide a way to execute arbitrary code on the target system.
Metasploit provides a large collection of pre-built exploits that can be used to target various systems, applications, and services.
Payload modules are used to deliver and execute arbitrary code on target systems, typically after a vulnerability has been exploited.
Payloads can include a variety of features, such as remote shell access, file upload and download, keylogging, and other post-exploitation activities.
Auxiliary modules are designed to perform various security-related activities, such as port scanning, service discovery, and brute-forcing passwords.
These modules are used to gather information about target systems and networks and can be used in the reconnaissance phase of a security assessment.
Encoder modules are used to obfuscate and encode payloads and other data, to bypass detection by anti-virus software and intrusion detection systems.
Metasploit provides a variety of encoding techniques that can be used to evade detection and maintain access to target systems.
NOP (No-Operation) Generator modules are used to generate sequences of NOP instructions, which can be used to pad out an exploit or payload and ensure that it executes correctly on the target system.
Post-exploitation modules are used to perform various activities after a system has been compromised, such as gathering additional information, exfiltrating data, and maintaining access to the target system.
These modules are often used to escalate privileges, install backdoors, and execute other malicious activities on the target system.
A listener in Metasploit is a component that waits for incoming connections from a compromised system and provides a communication channel for interacting with that system.
When a payload is executed on a target system, it establishes a connection back to the attacker’s system, and the listener is responsible for accepting that connection and providing a command prompt or other interface for controlling the compromised system.
The listener is typically configured to listen on a specific network port and may use various protocols such as TCP, UDP, or HTTP.
Shellcode refers to the code that is executed on the target system after a vulnerability has been exploited and a payload has been delivered.
The shellcode is designed to provide a backdoor or reverse shell to the attacker and can include various commands and functionality for interacting with the target system.
The shellcode is typically written in assembly language and is designed to be small, efficient, and portable across different systems and architectures.
Overall, Metasploit provides a wide range of modules that can be used to target various systems, applications, and services, and perform various security assessment activities.
These modules can be used to identify vulnerabilities, exploit them, and maintain access to target systems for further analysis and testing.
How to Get Metasploit?
Here are the steps to get Metasploit along with the system requirements:
- Operating System: Metasploit can run on various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. However, the preferred OS is Linux because it is designed to work best in a Linux environment.
- Hardware Requirements: Metasploit requires a minimum of 4GB RAM and a 2GHz + processor, though the recommended hardware requirements are 8GB RAM.
Download and Install Metasploit:
- Metasploit can be downloaded from the official website, https://www.metasploit.com/.
- Click on the “Download” button to start the download process.
- After the download is complete, install Metasploit using the instructions provided for your operating system.
- Open a terminal or command prompt and type “msfconsole” to start Metasploit.
- If Metasploit is installed correctly, you should see the Metasploit console with the banner message.
- You can test Metasploit by running some basic commands to scan and exploit a target.
Why Should One Learn Metasploit?
There are several reasons why one might want to learn Metasploit:
Metasploit is a powerful penetration testing tool that can be used to test the security of computer systems, networks, and applications. Learning Metasploit can help security professionals identify and exploit vulnerabilities in a controlled environment, which can help improve the overall security of an organization.
Metasploit provides a comprehensive set of exploits, payloads, and auxiliary modules that can be used to test the security of a system. Learning it can help you understand how exploits work and the different techniques used by attackers to compromise a system.
Metasploit is a widely used tool in the field of cybersecurity, and learning it can help you advance your career as a security professional. Knowing how to use Metasploit can help you stand out from other candidates and improve your chances of getting a job in the cybersecurity field.
Bug Bounty Hunting
Many companies offer bug bounty programs that reward individuals who find and report security vulnerabilities in their systems. Learning Metasploit can help you identify and exploit vulnerabilities in these systems, which can earn you rewards and recognition.
Metasploit can be used in offensive security operations, such as red teaming and ethical hacking, to simulate real-world attacks and test the effectiveness of an organization’s security controls. Learning Metasploit can help you understand the mindset and techniques used by attackers, which can help you better defend against them.
Overall, learning Metasploit can help you improve your skills as a security professional and advance your career in the cybersecurity field.
How to Use Metasploit?
Installing Virtualbox, Kali, and Metasploitable will produce a virtualized hacking system that may be used as a testing environment.
To set up a third virtual computer for this vulnerability, you can download and install Windows XP or later.
To begin, the Armitage graphical user interface (GUI) is a potent and helpful tool that displays targets and suggests the best vulnerabilities to access them.
This application also demonstrates sophisticated post-exploit functionality, which can be used for additional testing and penetration. Armitage may be accessed on the console by going to Programs > Exploit Tools.
When the input area appears, fill it up with the host, port, user name, and password. Once you’ve finished filling out the form, hit “enter” to begin the exploit.
Fortify Assets With Rigorous Penetration Testing
While Metasploit has been used by a variety of pentesters to understand and remediate surface-level vulnerabilities, it will not give you complete or in-depth insights into your organization’s security posture. Metasploit cannot detect fundamental issues in business logic, creating a huge gap, ripe for exploitation by hackers.
To truly secure your digital assets, protect dataflow, and ensure your organization has a solid security posture, it is critical that you conduct a comprehensive, manual pentest. SecureLayer7 can help with penetration testing for Mobile and Web applications, cloud environments, network security, IoT, and more. All with a class-leading process that ensures you get complete transparency and visibility throughout the penetration test. Reach out to us today, and let’s discuss how we can help you secure your org.
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