In this quick guide for cybersecurity professionals, we’ve invited some of our favourite security experts who have previously worked with Metasploit to explain why this tool is so valuable for conducting effective penetration tests and network reconnaissance tasks.
Our first expert Michael Robinson, Security Expert at Cheap SSL Security gives a brief overview of this tool and how to use it in his response below;
What Is Metasploit?
Metasploit is a penetration testing framework that makes hacking easier. It's an indispensable tool for many attackers and defenders. Direct Metasploit at your target, pick an exploit, what payload to drop, and hit Enter.
It's not quite as simple as that, of course, so let's start at the beginning. Back in the early days of cybersecurity, pentesting involved a lot of repetitive labor that Metasploit now automates including information collection, obtaining access, maintaining endurance & dodging detection. The framework offers only a command-line interface, but those requiring GUI-based click-and-drag hacking — plus some other modern features — can drop a package for per-seat licenses to Metasploit Pro.
HD Moore released 1.0, written in Perl, in 2003. The project has grown dramatically since then, from the original 11 exploits the project came with to more than 1,500 now, plus about 500 payloads, with a switch to Ruby under the hood along the way.
How To Use Metasploit
During the first phase of a penetration test, Metasploit conducts information gathering and integrates seamlessly with Nmap, SNMP scanning, and Windows patch enumeration, among others. Once you've distinguished a weakness, hunt through Metasploit's large and extensible database for the exploit that will crack free that chink and get you in.
For instance, NSA's EternalBlue exploit, released by the Shadow Brokers in 2017, has been packaged for Metasploit and is a dependable go-to when dealing with unpatched legacy Windows systems.
Since what most folks are wanting is a shell, a fitting payload when attacking Windows systems is the ever-popular Meterpreter, an in-memory-only interactive shell. Linux boxes get their own shellcode, depending on the escapade used.
Once on a target machine, Metasploit's quiver contains a full suite of post-exploitation tools, including privilege escalation, pass the hash, packet sniffing, screen capture, keyloggers, and pivoting tools. You can also set up a persistent backdoor in case the machine in question gets rebooted.
To answer the top most commonly asked questions around Metasploit we welcomed Nicholas McCourt, cybersecurity engineer at Domain Technology Partners to share his insights for the questions below;
How Do You Update Metasploit?
Depending on the age and version of Metasploit, older versions were updated from Metasploit itself, while new updates are now run through the operating system.
This is similar to running Windows updates on a desktop, but with a Linux operating system.
How Do You Install Metasploit?
Metasploit can be installed from the terminal within the operating system.
When asked to share the top pros and cons of Metasploit Nicholas also shared the following valuable insights;
Pros: The ability to attack a network is balanced by the amount of time it takes for a penetration tester to collect and understand data, as well as develop or utilize tools to attack.
Metasploit provides all of these options in one bundle and makes for quick work on a network.
Additionally, Metasploit also integrates with the large majority of well-known surveillance tools you are likely to encounter.
Cons: Since Metasploit provides such advanced capabilities, less experienced security professionals are prone to lean on it without understanding everything it does.
“Script kiddies” may exclusively use this tool without being able to read or understand code very well.
If you enjoyed this article on Metasploit then why check out our previous article on the meaning of CI/CD?