Transition Phase of Crackmapexec

What Happened to CrackMapExec?

Crackmapexec - known as CME, is a tool trusted by many in the world of penetration testing and cybersecurity. Yet recently, it saw a turn of events that led to its deprecation - a hostile fork. This certainly stirred up the developer community, raising questions as well as concerns, and its repercussions continue to be felt. In this piece, we’ll talk about what went down with CME, get into hostile forks, and touch on some ways to some insights about this situation.

CrackMapExec’s Journey

Brought to life by @byt3bl33d3r, CrackMapExec was a very popular tool in cybersecurity until it found itself against a hostile fork. Essentially, the original CME source was left unattended in the wake of hostile fork activities, requiring the main creator to fork to a new repository. However, this version was subsequently removed from public reach.

As a counteraction to these circumstances, a new project emerged called - NetExec. The aim was to keep CME alive. Sure, this shift did create some ripples within the CME development and user community, but on the bright side, it displayed the pentesting community’s resilience to tackle this situations.

A Closer Look at Hostile Forks

Forking - it’s an everyday practice in software development where devs sculpt a fresh version of a project or alter its trajectory. But when a fork happens without consensus or deliberation, we call it a hostile fork. This contrasts friendly forks that usually seek to build on an original project and eventually blend back into it, while hostile forks take a path of their own, often causing a new competitor to emerge.

Elements like disagreements on project direction, conflict of goals, or even personal clashes can give birth to hostile forks. These divergences can potentially echo throughout the developer community, slowing down the development tempo and injecting instability into the project.

When CrackMapExec found itself in the hostile fork scenario, it caused the project to go into deprecation. The deviation from the original project without joining hands with the team brought much discord, hampering the development workflow. This led @byt3bl33d3r to announce a semi-private version of the project, fueling the creation of NetExec. This step was taken to mitigate the instability invited by the hostile fork, ensuring the project’s survival.

Dealing with Hostile Forks

While every open-source project has its characteristics, there are common measures to thwart hostile forks:

Fostering Open Dialogue and Collaboration – facilitating consistent interactions among developers helps preempt possible hostile forks situations. Consistent communication regarding the project’s direction, strategies, and goals can prevent miscommunications and disagreements.

Having a Transparent Decision-Making Process – a fair and transparent decision-making mechanism is highly effective in addressing disagreements in productive ways, reducing the likelihood of hasty unilateral decisions triggering a hostile fork.

Setting Clear Project Goals and Guidelines – setting definite objectives and instructions concerning updates, changes, etc., can maintain consistency and reduce friction between project contributors.

In a nutshell, CrackMapExec’s experience opens an insight into the risks and challenges that open source projects face and their resilience despite adversities. By grasping the hostile fork concept and applying preventatives, developers can steer clear of potential project disruptions, maintaining stability, work efficiency, and community participation. Despite the inevitable roadblocks, the commitment and adaptability of the open source community hint at a bright cybersecurity future.

Written By


Cybersecurity professional and IT enthusiast with a passion for technology, music, personal growth, and Eastern philosophy. Transitioned from mechanical engineering to IT in 2020, with a full-time interest in Technology, Cybersecurity and recent advances in AI. Seeks to integrate eastern philosophy, mindfulness and a growth mindset into daily life and work.