Ready to Start Your Career?

7 Best Cyber Security Penetration Testing Tools

Dr. Michael J. Garbade's profile image

By: Dr. Michael J. Garbade

May 2, 2018

With the current proliferation of attacks on computer systems, proactively safeguarding your critical IT infrastructure is key. And, one of the best techniques for companies and individuals to protect themselves is through penetration testing.

Penetration testing (or pen testing) refers to the technique of assessing the security of IT systems with the intention of discovering vulnerabilities—before attackers identify them. If you want to dive deeper into penetration testing, you can watch professionals at LiveEdu and gain important skills for defending your systems.

Here are 7 of the best penetration testing tools for carrying out pentesting exercises. You can find some of the listed tools here for free, while others will require license payments; but all are suitable for use.

1. Metasploit: Metasploit is a very popular collection of various penetration tools. Cyber security professionals and other IT experts have used it for years to accomplish various objectives, including discovering vulnerabilities, managing security evaluations, and formulating defense methodologies. You can use the Metasploit tool on servers, online-based applications, networks, and several other places. If a new security vulnerability or exploit is reported, the utility will have it. If you need to evaluate the security of your infrastructure against older vulnerabilities, Metasploit will have you covered.

2. Nmap: Nmap, also known as network mapper, is a free and open source tool for scanning your systems or networks for vulnerabilities. The tool is also helpful in carrying out other activities, including monitoring host or service uptime and performing mapping of network attack surfaces. Nmap runs on all the major operating systems and is suitable for scanning both large and small networks. With the utility, you can understand the various characteristics of any target network, including the hosts available on the network, the type of operating system running, and the type of packet filters or firewalls in place.

3. Wireshark: Wireshark is a handy tool that can assist you to see the minutest details of the activities taking place in your network. It is an actual network analyzer, network sniffer, or network protocol analyzer for assessing the vulnerabilities of your network traffic in real time. This penetration tool is widely used for scrutinizing the details of network traffic at various levels—from the connection-level information to the pieces that constitute a packet of data. Capturing data packets will allow you to investigate the various characteristics of individual packets, such as where they are coming from, their destination, and protocol used. With the information, you can easily identify security weaknesses in your network.

4. Aircrack-ng: Aircrack-ng is a comprehensive collection of utilities for analyzing the weaknesses in a WiFi network. The tool allows you to monitor the security of your WiFi network by capturing data packets and exporting them to text files for further analysis. You can also verify the performance of WiFi cards through capture and injection. Importantly, if you want to assess the reliability of your WEP and WPA-PSK keys, you can crack them using this tool.

Learn more about Pentesting in our Security+ course >

5. John the Ripper: One of the most prominent cyber security risks is the use of the traditional passwords. Attackers usually compromise users’ passwords and use them to steal important credentials, enter sensitive systems, or cause other forms of damage. As such, password cracking is one of the critical aspects of penetration testing. One of the best penetration testing tools that is used for this purpose is John the Ripper. It is a simple, free tool that blends different password crackers into a single package, automatically identifies different types of password hashes, and comes with a customizable cracker. Pen testers usually use the tool to launch attacks with the intention of finding password weaknesses in a system or a database.

6. Nessus: Nessus is a popular paid-for tool for scanning vulnerabilities in a computing system or network. It is amazingly easy to use, offers fast and accurate scanning, and can provide you with a comprehensive outlook of your network’s weaknesses at the click of a button. This tool scans for loopholes that attackers may exploit to cause damage to your IT infrastructure. Some of the vulnerabilities it identifies include misconfiguration errors, improper passwords, and open ports.

7. Burpsuite: Burp Suite is a widely used utility for checking the security of web-based applications. It consists of various tools which can be used for carrying out different security tests, including mapping the attack surface of the application, analyzing requests and responses occurring between the browser and destination servers, and crawling web-based applications automatically. Burp Suite has two versions: the free version and the professional version. The free version has the essential manual tools for carrying out scanning activities. You can go for the professional version if you need advanced web penetration testing capabilities.

Learn more about Pentesting and Ethical Hacking >

Have you carried out penetration testing before? Did you use any of the above-listed penetration testing tools? If you want to improve your penetration testing skills, you can learn from the professionals. Ultimately, you’ll use the various penetration testing tools with ease. If you know of another useful tool we’ve not mentioned in this list, please let us know in the comment section below.
Schedule Demo