Risk
2/9/2009
08:02 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Metasploit To (Almost) Go SaaS

The Metasploit hacking tool is going the direction of many other IT security tools: it's going to be delivered, in part, as a service. But will corporate security managers upload critical data to a third party to test to see if it can be cracked?

The Metasploit hacking tool is going the direction of many other IT security tools: it's going to be delivered, in part, as a service. But will corporate security managers upload critical data to a third party to test to see if it can be cracked?We've covered, on a number of occasions, how security is increasingly being delivered as a service. Last year it was MessageLabs being acquired by Symantec, Symplified and its identity management as a service, and then there's Qualys, which launched its SaaS vulnerability management appliance at the turn of this decade.

This time, it's a step toward SaaS for the popular open source penetration-testing tool, Metasploit. As Kelly Jackson Higgins reports at DarkReading:

While this is not a pure software-as-a-services model, the new service-based features are a departure from Metasploit's software-based approach. The goal is to add back-end services, such as an "opcode" database client and a password-cracker to Metasploit, that seamlessly expand the tool's features and resources for its users, says HD Moore, creator of Metasploit. "We want our regular users to be able to take advantage of [such] services transparently," Moore says.

Sounds interesting, right? Other security vendors have been providing security through software-as-service for years. But one of the upcoming services HD Moore discussed with Kelly Jackson Higgins is in a back-end password cracking service, where a user would upload password hashes to Metasploit:

With the back-end password-cracking service, a Metasploit user could automatically submit password hashes to the Metasploit platform. "Once they are finished, [they would] get the clear-text passwords back and use those for another exploit," he says.

HD Moore says he's working to address one of the obvious problems with such services, such as criminals uploading password hashes that belong to an organization they're trying to crack into. This wouldn't be good, to say the least. One of the options he's considering as a way to stop this abuse is some type of user registration and confirmation.

But forget outright criminal abuse for a moment. Would many corporate security managers feel comfortable uploading actual password hashes to a third party? How would auditors react to learning about such practices?

I'm very curious to learn the answer to those questions.

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