Metasploit: Best Penetration Testing Software

Metasploit is an open-source pen testing tool designed to help companies and individuals discover system vulnerabilities. It was created by H.D. Moore in 2003 and was acquired by Rapid7, a provider of cybersecurity solutions and an IT insight platform. It is one of the most advanced cybersecurity solutions available, comprised of a host of unique features and functionalities that can be used by companies to streamline all phases of each pen testing session. Metasploit is famous for its penetration testing automation capabilities, allowing users to schedule system scans, customize scanning options, configure target settings, and launch quick pentesting sessions.

What is Metasploit used for?

Metasploit is mainly used for “ethical hacking”, but it is also used for evaluating the user’s system defenses against even the most sophisticated cyber-attacks. It can be used to attempt to infiltrate the system, maintain access, and gather critical information, as well as to run post-exploit tasks – maintain access to remote systems and continue exploiting vulnerabilities, undermining the system’s defenses, or collect information uploaded to the system.

IT reconnaissance

Information gathering is one of the main use cases of Metasploit. Both actual and ethical hackers can use this tool to obtain access and information about their targets by using a variety of IT recon techniques, such as service identification, SNMP sweeping, port scanning, or Microsoft SQL hunting. Additionally, Metasploit utilizes premier antivirus evasion technologies and features more than 330 post-exploitation segments, such as Credential Domino Meta Module, or VPN Pivot. Hackers can leverage these features to either overcome or bypass even the deepest of encryptions to extract data from any compromised PC/laptop.

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Highlighting weak/reused credentials

The efficiency of brute force attacks typically depends on the ability of the target to create and manage strong passwords. However, even the most complex of credentials are not fool-proof. Metasploit is capable of launching brute force attacks from more than fifteen types of accounts, which means that conducting a multi-pronged attack on the target’s web servers, remote administration platforms, and databases simultaneously is possible with one tool.

Red teaming

Metasploit is capable of recreating “real” hacking attempts i.e. orchestrated by the user’s security operation center to test the in-house IT team, which is commonly referred to as red teaming. What separates Metasploit from contemporary red teaming solutions is its collection of exploitation and recon modules available via Metasploit Framework, which can be leveraged to launch red teaming campaigns quickly and efficiently.

Pentesting tool of choice for Kali Linux users

As an open-source tool, Metasploit is highly customizable and can be integrated with nearly any operating system, with the main exception being Metasploit Kali Linux. Namely, this tool is already built into the Kali Linux OS and can be accessed by any user working with this system.

Vulnerability validation

One of Metasploit’s most important use cases lies in vulnerability validation. After discovering threats and exploitable system weaknesses, regardless of their origin, Metasploit can be used to determine how dangerous these threats are either manually or via the Metasploit Vulnerability Scan feature. Manual vulnerability validation is longer and more complex, as the users are required to follow several steps:

  • The first step is launching a pentest project via Metasploit, by either importing vulnerability data or performing a system scan.
  • The user needs to attempt to exploit all system vulnerabilities individually.
  • The pentest session can be saved, and the data obtained collected for future use.

Depending on how many vulnerabilities were found, this process could take hours or even days. Companies without a culture of performing regular system scans or without a staff of knowledgeable IT specialists may consider using the Metasploit Vulnerability Validation Wizard instead, but with extra caution.

What is Metasploitable / Metasploitable 2?

Metasploitable is a vulnerable Linux virtual machine that is used in security training. It was created by Thomas Wilhelm and was based on Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS. Metasploitable contains many of the most common vulnerabilities found in operating systems and applications.

Why do hackers use Metasploit?

Ethical hackers and pentesters are mainly using Metasploit to test the protection of the most advanced antivirus solutions. In terms of evading complex cybersecurity forensics, Metasploit offers a variety of modules that you can use to infiltrate target devices without ever touching the hardware. Another reason why hackers use Metasploit is that it is a very intuitive tool. Metasploit offers a variety of interfaces that are thoroughly streamlined and very accessible, even to beginner pentesters.

It would be safe to assume that even malicious hackers use Metasploit because it is an open-source pentesting tool, and thus is available to all people. Determining the intent of any person using Metasploit is almost impossible, as all security products and antiviruses perceive Metasploit payloads as malicious files (if they can discover them in the first place).

Can I hack with Metasploit?

Everyone can hack with Metasploit. It is an open-source tool whose owners do not perform background checks on their customers. Even if you cannot (or do not want to) buy it, you can always download the Metasploit Framework for free.

Metasploit was not designed to encourage hackers to use its tool for malicious purposes, even though it is possible. Its cutting-edge antivirus evasion technologies are capable of bypassing most cybersecurity detection measures, but only if the attacker is skilled enough to heavily modify existing Metasploit payloads.

Since Metasploit modules are available to all, the creators of modern AV solutions are fully aware of them. Hackers that plan on using Metasploit to launch malicious attacks need to modify Metasploit payloads or write new ones from scratch.

Can Metasploit hack wifi?

Yes, Metasploit can hack wifi. It includes a number of modules that can be used to attack wireless networks, including cracking passwords and injecting malicious traffic into the network.

A hacker with sufficient experience and skills could thus potentially hack a Wi-Fi network with Metasploit. The outcome of such a venture also depends on the type of Wi-Fi security that a wireless network is protected with, such as:

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)

WEP is considered obscure technology, as they were first introduced back in 1997. Disregarding the isolated cases of low-scale WEP attacks and their success rate, it took hackers nearly a decade to devise a concrete method of cracking its defenses. A Wired Equivalent Privacy network encrypts data that it receives from the wireless local area network (WLAN). To infiltrate it, hackers need to attack and overcome the defenses of WEP’s key. As one of the most comprehensive modern-day pentesting tools, Metasploit’s functionalities are more than suitable for cracking wired equivalent privacy Wi-Fi networks.

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)

Wi-Fi protected setups are more advanced than wireless equivalent privacy networks in terms of cybersecurity protection they can offer. However, they have one fatal exploitable weakness – default password logging. People typically use WPS systems to connect multiple devices to one network; since WPS automatically transmits network passwords to connected devices, the only thing that a hacker needs to do is infiltrate said devices instead of attacking the heart directly.

The smartest route is to use a keylogger on any of the connected devices, although analyzing the password logs could take some time. A quicker, but more dangerous route is to use dictionary attacks. Brute force attacks and social engineering can also prove to be useful.

Metasploit offers a plethora of unique payloads and customizable modules that can be used to create and customize similar hacking solutions.

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)

WPA technology is vastly superior to WEP and WPS in that it relies on the “temporal key integrity protocol” to generate different keys over time. Should a hacker fail to discover and exploit the weaknesses of one key in time, they would need to repeat the process from scratch once the key has changed.

Even WPAs are imperfect. They use less secure methods of encryption, which means that they typically generate far shorter passwords. This means that both social engineering and brute force attack attempts are more likely to succeed if the hacker is skilled and quick enough.

The customizability and versatility of Metasploit are two reasons why most WPA networks are easy to breach. Hackers can easily customize certain parameters of deployed payloads to infiltrate WPAs.

How does Metasploit work?

In Metasploit, users create sessions, create or upload payloads, and customize existing ones. One project could be vastly different from the other, but the framework’s architecture is always the same.

Metasploit is a collection of interfaces, libraries, modules, tools, and plugins. Interfaces are used to access the framework; modules are parts of the Metasploit app that can be used to perform various tasks; libraries are comprised of various Metasploit functions while tools and plugins exist to bolster the app’s versatility and use cases.

This pentesting tool is typically used to gather information, discover exploitable weaknesses, validate threats and vulnerabilities, as well as maintain access and execute post-exploit modules.

Is Metasploit free to use?

Several versions of Metasploit exist, some of which are free to use:

  • Metasploit Framework – a free tool featuring over 1,500 exploits, a basic command-line interface, manual infiltration tools, and importable network data scans. It is free to use because its features are quite limited compared to Metasploit Pro.
  • Metasploit Pro – the commercial Metasploit version with fully unlocked features. It is a direct upgrade to Metasploit Express.
  • Metasploit Express – it was released before Metasploit Pro and was the first commercial version of the tool. It was discontinued on the 4th of July 2019.
  • Metasploit Community Edition – this version includes a free UI for Metasploit and a collection of features that are normally available to Metasploit Express users. It was discontinued on the 18th of July 2019.

Currently, the only free version of Metasploit is the Metasploit Framework. 

Is Metasploit safe to install?

Metasploit is completely safe to install, although the majority of antivirus programs will recognize its files as threats. The right way to be sure that you are using and installing an official version of Metasploit is to download the required files from Rapid7, the website that owns this tool.

How to install Metasploit on Linux (Ubuntu)

  1. Install prerequisites: sudo apt-get install curl git unzip
  2. Clone the Metasploit repository from GitHub: git clone https://github.com/rapid7/metasploit-framework.git
  3. Navigate to the metasploit-framework directory: cd metasploit-framework
  4. Install Metasploit dependencies: sudo bundle install –without development test postgresql sqlite3
  5. Set up the database: sudo msfdb init
  6. Edit the Metasploit configuration file to set the database parameters: DB_CONFIG=production MSF_DATABASE_USERNAME=msf MSF_DATABASE_PASSWORD=password MSF_DATABASE_HOST=localhost MSF_DATABASE_PORT=5432 7.
  7. Start the Metasploit console and initialize the database: msfconsole db:init

How to do a Metasploit update on Linux (Ubuntu)

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y metasploit-framework

How to install Metasploit on Windows

  1. Download and install Git: https://gitforwindows.org/
  2. Download and install the Windows Subsystem for Linux: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/install-win10
  3. Open a PowerShell window with Administrator privileges and run the following command: Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -All -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux
  4. Reboot your computer
  5. Open a new PowerShell window as an Administrator and run the following command: Install-Module -Name Metasploit -Repository PSGallery

After the module is installed, launch Metasploit by running msfconsole

How to install Metasploit on Android using termux

  1. On your Android device, open the Google Play Store and search for “termux.”
  2. Install the Termux app.
  3. Open Termux and type the following command to install Git: pkg install git
  4. Type the following command to install the Metasploit Framework:git clone https://github.com/rapid7/metasploit-framework.git
  5. Navigate to the metasploit-framework directory: cd metasploit-framework
  6. Install Metasploit dependencies:sudo bundle install –without development test postgresql sqlite3
  7. Set up the database: sudo msfdb init
  8. Edit the Metasploit configuration file to set the database parameters:  DB_CONFIG=production MSF_DATABASE_USERNAME=msf MSF_DATABASE_PASSWORD=password MSF_DATABASE_HOST=localhost MSF_DATABASE_PORT=5432
  9. Start the Metasploit console and initialize the database: msfconsole db:init

Working in Metasploit

If you are unsure about how to use Metasploit, the following example can serve as a simple Metasploit tutorial:

  • Depending on your operating system, you will mainly work from the MSF console or MSF database.
  • You will need to select an interface and upload modules that you wish to use.
  • After that, input “msf exploit” to see the customizable variables of supported exploits.
  • Fill in all the blanks on the “exploit” page.
  • Run an exploit command to begin.

A short tutorial of how Metasploit can be used

In Metasploit, you can start by running the “show exploits” command to get a list of available exploits. You can then use the “search” command to find specific exploits.

For example, to search for the exploit “Linux Kernel iptables Privilege Escalation“, you would run: search kernel linux privilege-escalation

Once you have found an exploit that you want to use, you can enter it into the “exploit” command. For example, the following command would initiate the exploit: exploit CVE-2017-11164

You can also use the “info” and “show options” commands to get more information about a specific exploit.

An example how Metasploit could be used

As an example, we will use the EternalBlue exploit, which is used to hack into Windows machines. We will also use a payload that will enable us to remotely control the target machine.

  1. First, we need to select an interface. In this case, we will use the “web” interface.
  2. Next, we need to select a module. In this case, we will use the ” EternalBlue” exploit module.
  3. We also need to select a payload. In this case, we will use the “windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp” payload.
  4. Now that we have all of our settings in place, we can run the “exploit” command to begin our attack.
  5. Once the attack is underway, we can use the “meterpreter” shell to remotely control the target machine.

How to use Metasploit for vulnerability validation

The VVI is a comprehensive vulnerability validation interface that guides the user through the entire process of importing, exploiting, as well as validating vulnerabilities. This feature uploads its discoveries to Nexpose, one of Rapid7’s security risk intelligence solutions. To use the Metasploit Vulnerability Validation Wizard, users are required to set up a new Nexpose instance. This feature is exclusive to people that are using Metasploit Pro and can be used by following these steps:

  1. Set up a Nexpose console. This can be done from the Metasploit Vulnerability Validation wizard directly.
  2. Select Administration and open the “Global Settings” menu.
  3. Navigate to Nexpose Consoles segment.
  4. Click “Configure a Nexpose Console”.
  5. Input the console name, address, port, and username, and configure a password if you want.
  6. Upload vulnerability data to Nexpose and then click on “Validate Vulnerabilities” from the “Projects” menu.

How can DIESEC help with your Metasploit installation?

Metasploit is complicated, but it is one of the most powerful pen testing tools available. DIESEC is one of the leading cybersecurity solution providers that has helped numerous clients configure Metasploit tools on their systems. Aside from providing premier IT and cybersecurity services, DIESEC is also a treasure trove of information, which can be leveraged to better understand Metasploit’s features and functionalities. Find out more about our services on our official website.