New Social Engineering Toolkit v4.3 Released!

Christmas comes early as one of the best computer security tool gets a big update. This week David Kennedy and the Trusted Sec gang released a new version of the Social Engineering Toolkit (SET). And this one comes with over 60 new features and updates!

As far as I am concerned, SET is hands down the best way to test your corporate network (and users!) against social engineering type attacks. Social Engineering data attacks (getting someone to run a malicious file through manipulation) is one of the top threats our networks face today. Dave and his team have put some major time and energy into SET to keep it up to date and relevant to the changing topography of network security.

So let’s take a look at the new features:

Multi-pyinjector looks to be one of the most interesting additions (see video above). SET can now deliver multiple payloads through multiple ports increasing your chances of success.

Tack_Email_Addresses is totally new to SET. This feature allows you to track which users clicked on your links and what they input on your website when they arrive.

Looks like this version of SET is also much better at AV evasion. The Java applet attack included in older SET versions was being picked up and blocked by a lot of Anti-Viruses. It seems to be working much better now. Hey, was that a fully patched and updated Windows 8 system I see used in the video?  🙂

Check out the Trustec Sec blog or their video above for more info!

Social Engineering Toolkit v4.1.1 “Gangnam Style” Released

David Kennedy and the Trusted Sec crew have recently released yet another update to the very impressive Social Engineering Toolkit.

SET v4.1.1 codenamed, “Gangnam Style”:

This version has a number of new enhancements including the ability to natively use Apache with the multiattack combining the Java Applet Attack and the Credential Harvester. Traditionally speaking, the credential harvester attack could only be used by the native SET HTTP server. We recently developed a php hook that gets copied over to the web root along with the standard Java Applet attack. If the Java Applet fails, the backup for credential harvester can be used. In addition, a number of stability updates were given to the standard Credential Harvester attack.

The harvester now supports multi-threading for faster response times when hitting the website. All-in-all this release adds a ton of new functionality and features. In addition to these changes, the Metasploit Meterpreter ALLPORTS payload is now supported through the PyInjector and ShellCode Injection techniques for the Java Applet. Lastly, we’ve added a new Java Applet that has been redesigned and heavily obfuscated. Enjoy!”

SET is one of our favorite computer security tools here at CyberArms.I can not think of an easier to use tool that allows you to check the security of your network against social engineering attacks.

We are just so grateful that David Kennedy and his team spend so much time tweaking and updating it.

Nice job guys!

Windows 8 Security in Action: Part 3

(This is the third and final part of my Windows 8 Security in Action article featured in last month’s Hakin9 magazine. Part One was a general introduction to the new look of Windows 8. In Part Two we looked at some of the new security features, and saw how it responds to basic Java attacks. In this last section we continue to analyze how Windows 8 responds to online and local attacks.)

SET PowerShell Attack

I next tried the SET PowerShell attack2. This attack has worked in all previous versions of Windows that I have tested, including Windows 7. SET creates a PowerShell command that includes an encrypted shell. Once the script is executed in PowerShell on the target system, it connects out to the remote system.

I ran the program creating the PowerShell script, and started the listener service on the Backtrack system. I then ran the script and… Nothing!

The Backtrack system did not detect any connection attempts and the Windows 8 PowerShell threw out a “Program has stopped running” error and closed. The PowerShell script that SET creates runs in a hidden Window so you can’t see what it is doing. When I ran the shell again with the hidden feature turned off, I got this screen of errors in PowerShell (Figure 15):

Figure 15 – PowerShell remote Shell attack stopped by Windows 8

“Arithmetic operation resulted in an overflow.” – Windows 8 did not allow the malicious code to connect out to the attacker system completely thwarting the attack.

So far, Windows 8 is batting a thousand; none of the attacks have been successful!

Windows 8 against the latest Flash Threats

Recently a Computerworld article3 stated that Windows 8 was vulnerable to a new Flash exploit that was just discovered, and apparently will not be patched until October due to the way that Flash is integrated into the new Internet Explorer.

Just today (September 12th) Computerworld announced that Microsoft changed their minds and will release a security patch right away:

“In light of Adobe’s recently released security updates for its Flash Player, Microsoft is working closely with Adobe to release an update for Adobe Flash in IE10 to protect our mutual customers,” Yunsun Wee, director of the company’s Trustworthy Computing Group, said in a Tuesday statement. “This update will be available shortly.”

I actually tried a couple of the earlier Flash attacks against Windows 8. Not the one mentioned in the Computerworld article, but one that was only a few weeks old (Mid-August). Windows Defender caught it and stopped it. (Figure 16)

Figure 16 –Windows Defender showing Attacks that were stopped

Overall the new Windows seems very good at standing up to common online script based attacks.

Credential Harvesting Attacks

Next I ran credential harvesting attacks against the Windows 8 machine. This creates a bogus website that looks like a regular webpage, like G-Mail or Facebook. Then when someone tries to enter their credentials it takes and stores the user’s login information and forwards them to the real page.

Windows 8 was able to block all of the Java based harvesters that I tried.

But on a harvesting page that did not use Java, it worked flawlessly and I was able to recover any credentials that were typed into the bogus webpage.

Though not really a security fault of Windows 8’s – the user is entering their credentials on a bogus webpage – but with the tight integration of Windows 8 with Microsoft Account numbers and Live E-mail, this could be an issue.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

I tried running a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack against the system. A MitM attack goes after the underlying TCP/IP communication stack and modifies the target’s ARP table. The Address Resolution Protocol table simply maps IP Addresses to network card physical MAC addresses. A system running the MitM attack inserts itself into the communication path between a system and the gateway/ router by telling the target system that it is the gateway and the gateway that it is the target system. Any information transferred in or out of the system can be monitored and stored.

Surprisingly the MitM attack I attempted worked flawlessly. I was able to watch what websites the Windows 8 system went to from my attacking system and was able to view communication data.

I thought this type of attack would be addressed in Windows 8, but as in Windows 7 and previous versions, this still seems to work.

Physical Attacks

As mentioned earlier, Windows 8 now comes with a new boot method, called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). This helps protect against malware boot attacks and root kits, and some other common attempts at modifying the boot process. This is a huge improvement over previous versions of Windows.

But it is not perfect, let me explain.

Even Windows 7 included a feature that recovers system files that are changed while the computer is running. So if you tried to change certain system files, it would revert back the next time the system rebooted.

But there is a file modification process that has been around a very long time that attacks the system files by booting from another OS, like Linux. This file modification attack allows a System level command prompt that can be opened at the login screen. The System level credential is the highest level of authority on a Windows box. It is higher than the “Administrator” user and is similar to Root access on a Unix/Linux box.

And this system level terminal runs without anyone physically logged onto the machine! This entire process was actually explained on a Microsoft TechNet Forum on Windows Server back in 2009 as a way to get into your server if you lost the Admin login credentials:

But what has been allowed to remain in Windows (it works in all versions of Windows including Desktops), could also be used by a bad guy in a physical attack.

It only takes a few seconds to perform this attack using a Linux boot disk. Basically you boot the Windows box with a Linux Boot disk, modify a couple executable files in the system32 directory and reboot. Then on reboot, at the main login screen, you hit a key combination and up pops a System level command prompt!

Figure 17 –System level Command Prompt at Login Screen

At this point you can run any system commands, including adding users or whatever you want to do. In the image below I just created a user named “Fred” with the ultra-secure password of “fred” (no one would ever guess that!).

Figure 18 –Adding a new User at Login Screen

I then reboot and we now have two users on this system:

Figure 19 –User added from Login Command Prompt Shows up in Login Screen

And of course I can now login to the system with our new user Fred.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some high level hack. It is a valid way to legitimately get access to a system where someone has forgotten the password.

We have used it in a corporate environment before where users have left and did not leave their current password. The systems were not network attached and unfortunately an administrator did not create an account on them. And of course the systems had data on them so the machines could not be wiped.

But as I mentioned before, malicious users could also use the same tactic if they have physical access to the machine.


Again, I just used standard testing tools in the creation of this article. There are several ways to bypass anti-virus on older versions of Windows by modifying the payloads in Metasploit. I did not do this; I just wanted to test it using some of the most common security techniques that are in use today.

My intent on writing this article was not to show how to bypass Window 8 security, but how the out-of-the-box features stood up to average internet attacks , which it did extremely well.

I was able to get an initial remote shell with the Alphanumeric shell attack. And though it was not completely functional, a version could possibly be made in the future to bypass Windows 8 security features. Flash vulnerabilities still seem to be a concern according to the Computerworld article. One credential harvesting attack also worked, and so did the physical login prompt trick.

Hopefully this article demonstrates to you that Windows 8 security is indeed better than Windows 7. But user training about online threats and phishing defense needs to remain in place. The standard advice of not running unknown or unsolicited attachments, or visiting suspicious websites, and all the normal Social Engineering defense training remains the same.

Running a script blocker program like FireFox’s “NoScript” is still highly recommended to stop scripts from automatically running.

Also physical security of systems is still very important. Keep important servers and workstations in a secured area. Do not allow other people to access your system. Always verify the identity of service personal who want to perform maintenance on your system.

Will Windows 8 sweep the enterprise world by swarm? I am not sure. The security features (especially the increased memory protection) are a big boost and are needed. But the switch to the new interface may be a turn off to many overtaxed IT departments that do not have the time to help users through the learning curve of a new desktop.

Many corporate users still are using Windows XP believe it or not. Will they switch to Windows 7 or jump to the more secure Windows 8?

Only time will tell.


1 –Microsoft’s Secure Password FAQ –

2 – PowerShell Attack –

3 – “Adobe confirms Windows 8 users vulnerable to active Flash exploits” -

4 – “Microsoft backpedals, promises to patch Windows 8’s Flash ‘shortly’”

The New Social Engineering Toolkit vs Windows 7 (and 8!)

Cyber genius David Kennedy (aka The Mad Hugger 🙂 ) and his rockstar team have done it again. Just when you thought your Anti-Virus was safe, the TrustedSec team has shown once again that pinning all your corporate security hope on AV protection alone is not a good strategy.

A ton of new features have been added (check out their video above) and some of the older features have been re-written and revamped. Making SET 4.0 codenamed “Balls of Steel” (who makes up these names??) one of the coolest pentesting tools out there.

I just had to check out the new “PyInjector” feature (injects shellcode straight into memory) and see how it fared against a fully updated Windows 7 with one of the best AV/network protection suits installed:

Looks like it worked pretty good!

Okay, I have been playing around with Windows 8 for a while now, checking out it’s updated security features and I have been pretty impressed so far. Here is a screenshot of the same attack against a Windows 8 system using only the included Microsoft Windows Defender:

No shell, only an ever repeating screen of errors.

Okay, let’s try the new Java 7 attack against both and see how it fairs. First the Windows 8 system:

Hmm… Seems to have stopped it at the request stage. Windows Defender did have an update that I installed just prior to running this test. Though I thought it odd that nothing showed in the Windows Defender log.

Okay and the Windows 7 system with the good AV:

Just got to the sending applet part, but no shell. Looks like it stopped it too.

I tried the regular Java attack that has been re-tooled and I was able to get a remote shell with both versions of Windows. It was odd though as neither would let me actually do anything with the shell. Anything I tried to input into the shell would just be echoed onto the webpage on the target machine.

This just shows that even though in some cases the AV was able to stop the attacks, I was still able to get a full remote shell. Users must be educated about online risks, and network defense can not be focused on AV protection alone. Social Engineering is one of the top targeted attack methods used against corporate networks.

Sometimes your user is your last and greatest line of defense.