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Making the Most of Metasploit

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By: Doug Bonderud

August 24, 2020

Built in 2003 by security expert and hacker H.D. Moore, the Metasploit framework makes the job of penetration testers easier by testing potential vulnerabilities using both command-line modification and a graphical user interface (GUI).

Thanks to its ease-of-use and open-source nature, Metasploit quickly found a home among black hat hackers who used it not as a testing tool but a threat vector — according to Threat Post, Metasploit remains popular today as both a testing and attack tool.

As a result, Metasploit training offers a dual benefit for IT professionals: skill with this tool allows the design and deployment of better penetration testing efforts, and knowledge of common attack vectors helps infosec experts detect and defeat emerging threats from malicious actors.

Not sure if testing tool training is the right fit for your IT career? Here what you need to know about key framework functions, optimal operations, the evolving hacker impact, and how you can make the most of Metasploit.

What is Metasploit?

This Ruby-based, open-source penetration testing framework was built in 2003 and acquired by Rapid7 in 2009. Now on its fifth iteration, Metasploit is used to identify and probe vulnerabilities across enterprise IT environments. Teams can use premade or custom code to assess potential weak spots — once identified, infosec experts, can design and deploy purpose-built defenses.

While Metasploit expertise is most commonly associated with full-time penetration testers, the framework also offers benefits for other infosec roles, including:

  • Vulnerability assessment experts
  • Security engineers
  • Security researchers
  • Infosec auditors
  • Programmers
  • Front-line IT staff responsible for system upgrades and maintenance

Since Metasploit is open-source and easily customizable, it’s possible for infosec pros to learn as they go by using Metasploit on the job or on their own time. Given the sheer amount of potential offered by this platform, however, it’s easy for even experienced IT professionals to find themselves using only a few key functions instead of leveraging the broader benefits of this framework. For staff looking to improve their current Metasploit skills or prepare for career paths that focus on penetration testing at scale, online Metasploit training courses can help IT pros focus on what matters and make the most of Metasploit.

What can You do With Metasploit?

Metasploit offers four key benefits:

  • Scanning — Custom or premade code is introduced into enterprise networks and automatically scans for potential vulnerabilities. Once a weakness is found, IT experts are notified and can take steps to eliminate the issue.

  • Exploitation — Using a host of possible payloads, penetration testers can safely exploit vulnerabilities to discover the extent of their impact and help prioritize threat response.

  • Assessment — Once scanning and exploitation are complete, teams can assess the current security landscape and determine where systems are working as intended and where improved protection is required.

  • Design — Metasploit lets teams build their modules for large-scale or specific-function testing to improve security at scale.

It’s also worth noting that the Metasploit framework isn’t static — as threats evolve, new exploits and models are added to help IT professionals detect and remove key weaknesses. Metasploit already contains more than 1600 exploits across 25 platforms and includes more than 500 payloads, including command shell, dynamic, static, and Meterpreter options.

Do Hackers Use Metasploit?

Metasploit remains a popular hacker tool. By analyzing code for potential vulnerabilities and using the many built-in exploits offered by Metasploit, black hat hackers can reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to compromise networks, applications, and services. As a result, some IT professionals steer clear of Metasploit skills in favor of other penetration testing processes.

But this ignores the biggest benefit of Metasploit: the ability to think and act like a hacker. By equipping white hat professionals with the same arsenal of tools as their black hat counterparts, penetration testers can gain a competitive edge by discovering — and resolving — potential problems before malicious actors take advantage of them.

Put simply, Metasploit offers the benefit of proactive protection. Instead of responding to attacker efforts after the fact and attempting to shore up defenses before they strike again, infosec experts identify the path of least resistance and implement security controls designed to frustrate attacker efforts.

Making the Most of Metasploit

While Metasploit training probably won’t land your ideal infosec job on its own, experience with this powerful penetration testing framework can help your resume stand out from the crowd, especially when paired with popular certifications such as CompTIA Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).

Expertise with the Metasploit framework speaks to your interest and ability in penetration testing. It makes it clear that you have the practical skill to back up theoretical knowledge around ethical hacking, systems evaluation, and vulnerability testing best practices. Make the most of Metasploit by combining in-depth training and practical, in-situ application.

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