Merry HaXmas to you! Each year we mark the 12 Days of HaXmas with 12 blog posts on hacking-related topics and roundups from the year. This year, we're highlighting some of the “gifts” we want to give back to the community. And while these gifts may not come wrapped with a bow, we hope you enjoy them.

Editor's Note: Yes, this is technically an extra post to celebrate the 12th day of HaXmas. We said we liked gifts!

Happy new year! It is once again time to reflect on Metasploit's new payload gifts of 2016 and to make some new resolutions. We had a lot of activity with Metasploit's payload development team, thanks to OJ Reeves, Spencer McIntyre, Tim Wright, Adam Cammack, danilbaz, and all of the other contributors. Here are some of the improvements that made their way into Meterpreter this year.

On the first day of Haxmas, OJ gave us an Obfuscated Protocol

Beginning the new year with a bang (and an ABI break), we added simple obfuscation to the underlying protocol that Meterpreter uses when communicating with Metasploit framework. While it is just a simple XOR encoding scheme, it still stumped a number of detection tools, and still does today. In the game of detection cat-and-mouse, security vendors often like to pick on the open source project first, since there is practically no reverse engineering required. It is doubly surprising that this very simple technique continues to work today. Just be sure to hide that stager

On the second day of Haxmas, Tim gave us two Android Services

Exploiting mobile devices is exciting, but a mobile session does not have the same level of always-on connectivity as an always-on server session does. It is easy to lose a your session because a phone went to sleep, there was a loss of network connectivity, or the payload was swapped for some other process. While we can't do much about networking, we did take care of the process swapping by adding the ability for Android meterpreter to automatically launch as a background service. This means that not only does it start automatically, it does not show up as a running task, and is able to run in a much more resilient and stealthy way.

On the third day of Haxmas, OJ gave us three Reverse Port Forwards

While exploits have been able to pivot server connections into a remote network through a session, Metasploit did not have the ability for a user to run a local tool and perform the same function. Now you can! Whether it's python responder or just a web server, you can now setup a locally-visible service via a Meterpreter session that visible to your target users. This is a nice complement to standard port forwarding that has been available with Meterpreter sessions for some time.

On the fourth day of Haxmas, Tim gave us four Festive Wallpapers

Sometimes, when on an engagement, you just want to know 'who did I own?'.  Looking around, it is not always obvious, and popping up calc.exe isn't always visible from afar, especially with those new-fangled HiDPI displays. Now Metasploit lets you change the background image on OS X, Windows and Android desktops. You can now update everyone's desktop with a festive picture of your your choosing.

On the fifth day of Haxmas, OJ gave us five Powershell Prompts

Powershell has been Microsoft's gift both to Administrators and Penetration Test/Red Teams. While it adds a powerful amount of capabilities, it is difficult to run powershell as a standalone process using powershell.exe within a Meterpreter session for a number of reasons: it sets up its own console handling, and can even be disabled or removed from a system.

This is where the Powershell Extension for Meterpreter comes in. It not only makes it possible to confortably run powershell commands from Meterpreter directly, you can also interface directly with Meterpreter straight from powershell. It uses the capaibilites built in to all modern Windows system libraries, so it even works if powershell.exe is missing from the system. Best of all, it never drops a file to disk. If you haven't checked it out already, make it your resolution to try out the Meterpreter powershell extension in 2017.

On the sixth day of Haxmas, Tim gave us six SQLite Queries

Mobile exploitation is fun for obtaining realtime data such as GPS coordinates, local WiFi access points, or even looking through the camera. But, getting data from applications can be trickier. Many Android applications use SQLite for data storage however, and armed with the combination of a local privilege escalation (of which there are now several for Android), you can now peruse local application data directly from within an Android session.

On the seventh day of Haxmas, danilbaz gave us seven Process Images

This one is for the security researchers and developers. Originally part of the Rekall forensic suite, winpmem allows you to automatically dump the memory image for a remote process directly back to your Metasploit console for local analysis. A bit more sophisticated than the memdump command that has shipped with Metasploit since the beginning of time, it works with many versions of Windows, does not require any files to be uploaded, and automatically takes care of any driver loading and setup. Hopefully we will also have OS X and Linux versions ready this coming year as well.

On the eight day of Haxmas, Tim gave us eight Androids in Packages

The Android Meterpreter payload continues to get more full-featured and easy to use. Stageless support now means that Android Meterpreter can now run as a fully self-contained APK, and without the need for staging, you can now save scarce bandwidth in mobile environments. APK injection means you can now add Meterpreter as a payload on existing Android applications, even resigning them with the signature of the original publisher. It even auto-obfuscates itself with Proguard build support.

On the ninth day of Haxmas, zeroSteiner gave us nine Resilient Serpents

Python Meterpreter saw a lot of love this year. In addition to a number of general bugfixes, it is now much more resilient on OS X and Windows platforms. On Windows, it can now automatically identify the Windows version, whether from Cygwin or as a native application. From OS X, reliability is greatly improved by avoiding using some of the more fragile OS X python extensions that can cause the Python interpreter to crash.

On the tenth day of Haxmas, OJ gave us ten Universal Handlers

Have you ever been confused about what sort of listener you should use on an engagement? Not sure if you'll be using 64-bit or 32-bit Linux when you target your hosts? Fret no more, the new universal HTTP payload, aka multi/meterpreter/reverse_http(s), now allows you to just set it and forget it.

On the eleventh day of Haxmas, Adam and Brent gave us eleven Posix Payloads

Two years ago, I started working at Rapid7 as a payloads specialist, and wrote this post (/2015/01/05/maxing-meterpr eters-mettle) outlining my goals for the year. Shortly after, I got distracted with a million other amazing Metasploit projects, but still kept the code on the back burner. This year, Adam, myself, and many others worked on the first release of Mettle, a new Posix Meterpreter with an emphasis on portability and performance. Got a SOHO router? Mettle fits. Got an IBM Mainframe? Mettle works there too! OSX, FreeBSD, OpenBSD? Well it works as well. Look forward to many more improvements in the Posix and embedded post-exploitation space, powered by the new Mettle payload.

On the twelfth day of Haxmas, OJ gave us twelve Scraped Credentials

Have you heard? Meterpreter now has the latest version of mimikatz integrated as part of the kiwi extension, which allows all sorts of credential-scraping goodness, supporting Windows XP through Server 2016. As a bonus, it still runs completely in memory for stealty operation. It is now easier than ever to keep Meterpreter up-to-date with upstream thanks to some nice new hooking capabilities in Mimikatz itself. Much thanks to gentilkiwi and OJ for the Christmas present.

Hope your 2017 is bright and look forward to many more gifts this coming year from the Metasploit payloads team!