Penetration testing tools are applications used to detect network security threats.
Penetration testing, also referred to as “pen test”, is an authorized simulated attack on your system attempted by security experts (white-hat hackers) to evaluate your computer systems’ security. These attacks simulate the real-world attacks carried out by black-hat hackers (criminal hackers).
The tests will detect vulnerabilities including the possibility for unauthorized attackers to get access to the system data. Moreover, the tools can also identify system strengths for executing a full risk assessment. The test results are further used by organizations to make their applications more robust and secure.
Here is our list of the 8 best Penetration Testing software and service:
- Netsparker Security Scanner Web-based and On-Prem security testing tool that automatically checks several security threats for target websites. You can scan 1000+ web applications with this tool.
- Intruder Automated Penetration Testing An automated vulnerability scanner used to find cybersecurity threats on the target website.
- Ettercap Open-source security auditing tool that helps you to scan for man-in-the-middle attacks on LAN.
- Nessus Widely used security tool that scans the target system and alerts if it discovers any vulnerabilities.
- SQLmap Open-source pen-testing tool used to detect and exploit SQL injection attacks.
- Zed Attack Proxy Open-source. One of the most popular web application scanners that can be used to assess web applications for vulnerabilities.
- Wapiti Vulnerability scanner that allows you to audit the security of your websites. It supports both GET and POST HTTP methods for attacks.
- Owasp Open-source and full-featured DAST tool that includes both automated scanning for vulnerabilities and tools to assist expert manual web application.
Top 8 Best Penetration Testing Tools in 2021:
Every software application listed in this post comes with a unique set of features, ideal for different business niches.
1. Netsparker Security Scanner
Netsparker is an extremely easy-to-use web application security testing tool that automatically checks for cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL Injection and other security threats in your websites, web services and applications. It is available as a SaaS solution or even On-Prem.
Netsparker penetration testing tool is highly robust and is able to scan around 500 to 1000 web applications simultaneously. Plus, it has custom settings for security scan, allowing you to set authentication, attack options and URL rewrite rules. It produces proof of exploitation and you can easily view the impact of security threats.
Key Features of Netsparker:
- Scans 1000+ web applications at the same time
- Automatic scanning requires minimal configuration from the user
- Allows adding multiple team members for seamless collaboration and result sharing
- Proof-based scanning detects accurate vulnerabilities
- Advanced crawling allows for API scanning
- Automates scheduled future scans
- Built-in reporting tools with a clear visual dashboard
2. Intruder Automated Penetration Testing
The intruder is a power-packed, automated penetration testing tool that identifies security vulnerabilities across your digital environment to prevent costly data breaches. It features an industry-leading scanning engine to offer in-depth security checks.
With more than 10,000+ security checks, Intruder protects your critical systems with best-in-class practices.
Key Features of Intruder:
- Scans for SQL Injection and cross-site scripting in websites
- Checks common security issues in cloud environments
- Monitors public and private servers
- Provides in-depth network view to detect changes in exposed ports and services
- API Integration with your CI/CD pipeline to automate security processes
- Smart Recon feature lets you pay for only active systems
- Regular quality PDF reporting
Ettercap is an all-inclusive suite to detect MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks. It features content filtering on the fly, sniffing live connections, and other such innovative practices. It also has various features dedicated to host and network analysis. Moreover, it offers support for passive and active dissection of numerous protocols.
This pen-testing tool is quite easy to use and understand.
Key Features of Ettercap:
- Support for passive and active dissection of several protocols
- Sniffs an SSH connection in full-duplex
- Sniffs HTTP SSL secured data even if the connection is established through the proxy
- Features API to create custom plugins
- Allows injection of characters to a client or into a server without hindering a live connection
- ARP poisoning feature allows sniffing on a switched LAN between two hosts
Nessus is a popular vulnerability assessment solution being used in the industry by more than 30, 000 companies now.
It is an exceptionally powerful and comprehensive pen-testing tool featuring deeper vulnerability coverage with over 61,000+ CVEs and over 152,000+ plugins. Besides, it implements six-sigma accuracy to deliver the lowest false positive rate in the market.
Nessus was meticulously designed by keeping security practitioners and their work in mind. Every single feature in Nessus is built to make vulnerability detection simple and intuitive.
Key Features of Nessus:
- Plugins are updated automatically in real-time to detect the latest malware and vulnerabilities
- Prebuilt templates and policies are available right out of the box
- Over 450+ compliance and configuration templates to help audit configuration compliance against best benchmarks
- Customizable reporting based on the type of vulnerabilities by host or plugin
- Live Results feature automatically assesses vulnerabilities offline with every plugin update, showing results based on your scan history.
- Grouped View feature gathers similar vulnerabilities together and displays them in a single thread to simplify prioritization and remediation
Nessus is best suited for compliance checks, sensitive data searches, and scanning websites and IP addresses. Find out more on their website.
SQLmap is an open-source pen-testing tool that automatically detects and exploits SQL Injection vulnerabilities and takes over database servers.
At the heart of SQLmap, there is a powerful detection engine along with various niche features and switches for over data fetching from the database, database fingerprinting, accessing underlying files, and execution of commands on OS through out-of-band connections.
Key Features of SQLmap:
- Supports Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Presto, SQLite, MemSQL, IBM DB2, and a myriad of other database management systems
- Supports six SQL Injection techniques viz. UNION-based, boolean-based blind, stacked queries, out-of-band, time-based blind and error-based.
- Enumerates users, privileges, password hashes, databases, columns, tables and roles.
- Allows directly connecting to the database without going through a SQL Injection
- Automatically recognizes password hash formats and cracks them via dictionary-based attack.
- Allows to dump database tables completely or specific columns
- Can establish an out-of-band stateful TCP connection between the database server and attacker machine
6. Zed Attack Proxy
OWASP ZAP is an integral part of the free OWASP community. It is an open-source, free web application scanner that is perfect for newbie developers and pen testers. It automatically finds vulnerabilities in your applications and offers various powerful APIs for security automation via a desktop interface. Developers can automate security regression testing and pen testing of the application in CI/CD pipeline.
Key Features of ZAP:
- ZAP Marketplace includes numerous ZAP add-ons to enhance its functionalities
- Active and Passive Scanners
- Intercepting Proxy
- Brute Force Scanner
- Web Sockets
- Port Scanner
- Traditional and Ajax Spiders
- 4 modes available with customization
ZAP operates in a cross-platform environment and creates a proxy between your website and the client. Learn more on their site.
Wapiti is an authoritative security testing tool that helps you audit the security of your web applications and websites.
It efficiently performs “black-box” scanning (without studying the source code) of the web application to look for scripts and forms where it can inject data. This is done by crawling into the web pages of the deployed application. As soon as it finds the list of forms, URLs and inputs, the Wapiti tool acts like a fuzzier and injects payloads to check if the scripts are vulnerable.
Wapiti can smartly detect file disclosure, XSS injection, database injection, XXE injection, command execution detection, CRLF detection, SSRF (Server Side Request Forgery), Open Redirects, ShellShock (Bash bug), the existence of backup files that give out sensitive information, weak .htaccess configurations and so much more.
Key Features of Wapiti:
- Creates vulnerability reports in various formats including TXT, JSON, XML, HTML, and more
- Can suspend and resume scans or an attack
- Supports GET and POST HTTP methods for vulnerability check
- Buster module can brute force directories and file names on the target webserver
- Supports multipart forms and can inject payloads in filenames.
- Easily activate or deactivate attack modules
- Different verbosity levels
- Automatically removes one or more parameters in URLs
- Authentication via Basic, NTLM, Digest, or Kerberos
- Supports HTTP, HTTPS, and SOCKS5 proxies
- Extract URLs from Flash SWF files
- Can activate or deactivate SSL certificates verification
OWASP stands for Open Web Application Security Project. It is a non-profit organization that works to enhance the security of software.
It comprises community-led open-source software projects, thousands of members, myriads of local chapters worldwide and prominent training conferences. Through these best-in-class practices, OWASP helps developers and technology experts to secure their web.
This project comes with multiple tools and resources to pen test various protocols and software environments.
Leading flagship tools of the OWASP project are as follows:
- ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy): It is a free, open-source penetration testing tool with powerful APIs and multiple add-ons.
- OWASP Dependency Check: This SCA (Software Composition Analysis) tool can detect publicly disclosed vulnerabilities within a project’s dependencies. This is done by determining the presence of a CPE (Common Platform Enumeration) identifier for a specific dependency. If detected, the tool generates a report linking to the related CVE entries. The tool has a Maven plugin, command-line interface, a Jenkins plugin, and an Ant task.
- OWASP Web Testing Environment Project: OWASP WTE is a collection of powerful application security tools and documentation present in multiple formats including Linux distributions, VMs, ISO images, and cloud-based installations. The main goal of OWASP WTE is to make application security tools and documentation readily available for testers, developers, and trainers and easy to use. It is completely free.
Pen testing tools are a very crucial way of empowering your business’ IT integrity and securing the systems.
With these tools, developers, pen testers and trainers will be able to provide their organizations with the essential forewarning and proof-based information required to secure the IT systems.