Rapid7 acquires Metasploit, the open source penetration testing platform. Wow. All I can say is ‘Wow’. I had been hearing rumors that Rapid7 was going to make an acquisition for weeks, but this was a surprise to both Rich and myself. Still coming to terms with what it means, and I have no clue what the financial terms look like, but almost certainly this is a cash+stock deal. On the surface, it is a very smart move for Rapid7.

Metasploit is considerably better known than Rapid7. Metasploit is a fixture in the security research world and there are far more people using Metasploit than Rapid7 has customers. If nothing else, this gets Rapid7 products in the hands of the people who are shaping web application security, and defining how penetration testing and vulnerability management will be conducted. In a quickly evolving market like pen testing, access to that community is invaluable for a commercial vendor. Plus they get H D Moore on staff, which is a huge benefit.

Metasploit is a well-architected framework that provides for easy extensibility and can be customized in innumerable ways. If you want to test anything from smart phones to databases, this platform will do it, from targeted exploits to fuzzing. Sure, there is work on your part and accessibility to people other than security researchers is low compared to commercial products like Core Security’s Impact, but it’s a solid platform and the integration of the two should not be difficult. It’s more a question of how best to allow Metasploit to continue its open source evolution while leveraging scans into meaningful vulnerability chaining, as well as risk scoring.

Neither is exactly an ‘enterprise ready’ product. That’s not a slam, as NeXpose performs its primary function as well as most. But Rapid7’s platform is just now breaking ground into larger companies. They have a long way to go in UI, ease of use, pragmatic analysis, integration of risk scoring, SaaS, exploit chaining, and back-end integration. That said, I am not sure they need to be an enterprise ready product, at least in the short term. It makes more sense to continue their mid-market penetration while they complete the integration. Breadth of function, which is what they now have, has proven to be a major factor in winning deals over the last couple years. They can worry about the advanced non-technical stuff later.

Identity in the market is an issue for Rapid7. They have waffled between general assessment, pen testing, and vulnerability management, without a clear identity or differentiator when going toe-to-toe with QualysnCircleTenableSecunia, and the like. Sure, ‘compliance scoring’ is a useful marketing gimmick, but Metasploit gives them a unique identity and differentiation. Rather than scan-and-patch for known vulnerabilities, focusing mostly inside the network, they will now be able to go far deeper into externally facing custom applications. Taking a risk score across multiple applications and/or platforms is a better approach. If the two platforms are properly integrated, they’ll be useful to IT, security, and software development.

I am sure Rich will chime in with his own take later in the week. Wow.