In association with heise online

02 July 2006, 19:45

Achim Eidenberg

Exploits for All

Metasploit not only helps attackers find, but also exploit security holes

Ready-made exploits with an easy-to-use interface; "hacking light" with only three commands to access the remote shell. Available free of charge from a committed open-source community. An administrator's nightmare or a useful contribution to security? The Metasploit Framework has become a standard tool for security experts, but it also helps newbies understand the world of exploits and shellcodes.

Tools such as the Metasploit Framework (MSF) are highly controversial. While some regard them as an invitation to criminals and would like to prohibit their distribution, others argue that the free availability of such tools forces administrators to secure their networks and insert patches, ultimately ensuring a higher degree of security.

image 1 [431 x 281 Pixel @ 24,5 KB]
Zoom The Metasploit developer HD Moore has not been making new friends by publishing this WMF-Exploit.

The fact is that such tools exist and are available to everyone, and those not familiar with them have a clear disadvantage against attackers. Only those who know how easy it is today to develop and use exploits will also be able to make a realistic assessment of the risks associated with a security problem. Finally, tools like MSF help prospective security specialists get to know the world of exploits and shellcodes. Altogether, enough reasons to present the framework on heise Security.

The Metasploit Framework can be downloaded free of charge from the developers' homepage; most of its modules are subject to GPL. In addition to versions for Linux and Windows, there are packages customized for FreeBSD. While the Linux archive only contains the files of the framework, which users can unpack into a directory of their choice, the Windows version requires some extra effort. The framework was written in Perl, which Windows does not innately understand. Therefore, the Installer also loads an adapted Cygwin environment onto the hard disk along with MSF. Cygwin, which maps Unix functions on Windows, provides the Perl interpreter and other tools such as Netcat. However, the framework's "snapshots", where Metasploit integrates new exploits or adds functions between version jumps, are only available for Linux. msfupdate, on the other hand, is a program used for easy update of the framework, even under Windows.

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