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Hacking Tool Lets You Target Your Own End Users

New open-source attack platform that performs email-based Web attacks debuts next week at OWASP conference

Think of it as a Metasploit-type framework for email-borne attacks: A researcher is preparing to release a free hacking platform for targeted email and phishing attacks that includes payloads for popular Web threats.

The new so-called Lunker hacking tool -- which was initially developed as a pure spear phishing tool -- has been expanded to execute various types of exploits that target the so-called human “Layer 8,” including cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, Trojans, and clickjacking, says Joshua Perrymon, who built the tool. Perrymon, who is CEO of PacketFocus, will show off Lunker for the first time next week at the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) conference in New York. (See Disclosure of Major New Web 'Clickjacking' Threat Gets Deferred.)

Perrymon says the tool is for conducting targeted attacks in-house, and lends itself to much more than just spear-phishing as he first envisioned. (See Free Spear-Phishing Tool on Tap.) “I have since added the ability to select multiple payloads such as XSS and other browser exploits to use email as the attack vector, so now it’s a new ball game,” he says.

Many attacks today require some type of action by the potential victim, so Perrymon's attack platform lets an organization test and analyze what their users would do when hit with these types of attacks. The tool isn’t looking at the Web flaws themselves, but at what happens on the victim’s end, Perrymon says. “The goal is to measure the effectiveness of the organization’s security awareness program... We want to [see if we can make] the user do things [that] security awareness programs say not to do,” he says.

This will also ultimately help educate users on what these attacks look like, he says. “You can nail down [what the user did] into a detailed training curriculum," Perrymon says. "It depends on what you are trying to accomplish... If you’re doing a full-scope penetration test, you could use this tool as a further exploit.”

Lunker is also fully customizable so that the attacks look as realistic as possible, with the proper headers, footers, and company logos you're spoofing, for instance. "You have to make that attack realistic... So that it wouldn’t trigger any alarms,” he says. And you can add custom payloads to the phishing email.

Perrymon says he also plans to add man-in-the-middle modules to Lunker for performing reconnaissance on a potential targeted organization, for example, or for nabbing a user's token authentication details.

The tool will be available in two versions -- a "local" version of the VMware-based tool that performs demos but doesn't actually send real messages outside Lunker, and then a registered version, which can be used to actively send out the attacking emails. "This is for safety purposes to minimize malicious activity," Perrymon says.

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    Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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