Several of the penetration testing tools discussed here are akin to virtual Swiss Army knives, capable of assisting you in conducting a variety of different types of pen tests, while others are more specialized. We’ll examine the categories into which our chosen tools fall and also highlight some of the best free penetration tools available.
Tools for network penetration testing.
Because the stereotypical hacker spends their days breaking into networks where they have no business being, a pen tester requires tools that facilitate access to their targets’ network infrastructure. Among our top picks, this category includes Kali Linux, nmap, Metasploit, Wireshark, John the Ripper, and Burp Suite. Among the other popular network pen testing tools are the packet manipulation program Scapy; the attack and audit framework w3af; and the vulnerability scanners Nessus, Netsparker, and Acunetix.
Penetration testing tools for web applications.
Because web-facing applications are one of the primary attack surfaces that any organization must secure, a pen tester should spend considerable time assessing their target’s security. Nmap, Metasploit, Wireshark, Jon the Ripper, Burp Suite, ZAP, sqlmap, w3af, Nessus, Netsparker, and Acunetix can all assist with this task, as can BeEF, a web browser-focused vulnerability scanner; web application vulnerability scanners Wapiti, Arachni, Vega, and Ratproxy; diresearch, a command-line tool for bruteforcing directories.
Tools for database penetration testing.
If a hacker’s objective is to exfiltrate valuable data, those crown jewels are almost always hidden somewhere in a database, which is why it’s critical for a pen tester to have penetration testing tools for prying open the locks. nmap and sqlmap are critical tools for this. Additionally, SQL Recon, an active and passive scanner that targets and attempts to identify all Microsoft SQL Servers on a network, and BSQL Hacker, an automated SQL injection tool, are available.
Penetration testing tools that are automated.
Manually identifying all possible vulnerabilities in a target system could take years. Numerous penetration testing tools incorporate automation features to expedite the process. In this regard, Metasploit, John the Ripper, Hydra, Sn1per, and BSQL Hacker stand out.
Tools for open source penetration testing.
Pen testing originated in a hacker community that is deeply committed to the open source movement. Except for Burp Suite, all of our top tool picks are open source, including Scapy, BeEF, w3af, Wapiti, Arachni, Vega, Ratproxy, and Sn1per.