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Metasploit: One Year After The Rapid7 Acquisition

Pen testers weigh in on whether the deal was a success or a sellout
The union ultimately has pitted Metasploit against commercial penetration testing tools from Core Security and Immunity Inc. Some longtime Metasploit users say they've been pleasantly surprised with how the project has maintained its character and now update the tool more regularly. Joshua Perrymon, CEO for PacketFocus and a penetration tester, says Metasploit has morphed into "more of a commercial, get-it-done pen-test tool."

Perrymon likes the graphical user interface improvement, as well as the ability to "pivot," or compromise, a machine from the outside to use it to attack other machines inside. He says he's among the traditional security experts who prefer using the open-source tools, so he has no plans to purchase Metasploit Pro. "I'm still old-school about not relying on commercial tools or a single tool to do the job. Metasploit is like a tool in the kit: If I need to validate an exploit, this is the safest way to use it," says Perrymon, who also runs Nmap, Nessus, and phishing tools, for instance.

David Maynor, CTO of Errata Security, says he uses Metasploit every day in his pen-test work for clients. He has noticed the quicker turnaround on the development side, he says, and says Metasploit has remained open under the Rapid7 umbrella. He's looking at Metasploit Pro, mainly because some clients prefer he run a commercial tool rather than an open-source one because they argue it has more support behind it. "It generally takes more explaining the value proposition of Metasploit over Immunity or Core" to sell clients on his using the open-source Metasploit, he says.

But not all hackers are happy with Metasploit's new home. Moore says complaints have mostly been from those who don't want to contribute to a commercial firm's products, or in how Rapid7 handles feature development for commercial products.

"We really try to make the difference between free and commercial to be largely related to ease of use and automation, not technical capacity. However, a couple of folks are annoyed that we did not spend more time maintaining the open-source bits that could be considered competitive with the commercial parts," he says. "These features would include things like the old Web interface, the old GUI, and the automated exploit tools in the free code, [such as ] db_autopwn."

Moore says the Web interface and GUI were too buggy to maintain, so he offered them up to external developers to take over. A little more than a handful of contributors said they would work on the Web interface, but nothing has materialized thus far, he says.

But an outside contributor, who goes by the moniker "scriptjunkie," has taken over the GUI project. "[He] wrote a brand new interface in Java, and, best of all, it uses the same communication channel as our commercial products, keeping the development goals aligned," Moore says. And the Metasploit team is working on improving the automated exploit feature, he says.

And interestingly, Metasploit's commercial products, which also include Metasploit Express, a low-cost pen-testing tool with a full GUI and automated exploitation and reporting for enterprises, have been critiqued by some for not offering exploit packs or zero-day exploits, Moore says.

Meanwhile, Metasploit Pro is is priced at $15,000 per (named) user per year.

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