Penetration Testing Tools

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By Vijay Singh Khatri

Penetration testing tools are key to keeping the overall network security in the right shape. By performing penetration testing (or pentesting), a company gets to know about the cyber threats that can affect their business. As a part of routine security checks, the penetration tests allow organizations to find the loopholes present in their corporate network security before a hacker exploits it and causes trouble. Most of the penetration testing tools are software designed to detect network security threats. Today, we will find out some of the best penetration testing tools that an organization can use to keep its network safe from 2021 cyber attacks.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a method where network administrators use multiple techniques to detect security vulnerabilities. The testers are known as white hat hackers or ethical hackers as they simulate a real-world cyberattack on the network to find out the security issues, and then fix them. On the other hand, we have black hat hackers that can breach network security and exploit it to use resources, steal data, and much more.

Penetration testing is more like hiring a security consultant and asking them to perform a security attack on the systems to find out the network vulnerabilities, and how a real criminal can pose a serious threat. The results of penetration testing will help organizations to make their systems and network more secure.

How Penetration Testing Works

There are multiple ways penetration testing will work as there are no comprehensive methods or rules that one has to follow. There has been a constant change in penetration testing as cyberattacks are constantly evolving. As a result, to simulate the latest cyberattacks, which could be a threat to any organization’s network, pentests must be performed with the updated methods. But the basic process of penetration testing remains the same, which is:

  • Assign a network administrator as a white hat hacker and conduct the pentest at a randomized date and time.
  • The vulnerability management team will look for the IP addresses of the systems which are being used most and perform the essential tasks in the company’s local network.
  • After that, the team will also go through the old pentesting reports and see if the older vulnerabilities are still present or not.
  • Once the older vulnerabilities are checked, the white hat hacker will start testing the new attacks on the system and see how it performs.
  • During the attack, the organization will try to stop the attack from happening or spreading and try to find out the culprit behind the attack.

The team conducting the pentesting needs to be vigilant and perform all these tasks with complete seriousness. Because the security gaps are not exposed to the organization, they can’t be removed and have the potential to be exploited by a real hacker.

Types of Penetration Testing

The penetration testing is divided into five sub-categories. Therefore, a security tester must know all these five techniques and decide which one is the most relevant type of testing that needs to be performed.

1. Network Service Tests

This is the most common type of pentesting, which aims to discover the issues related to the network infrastructure that could affect the network security of the client. A network has both internal (servers, switches, printers, scanners, firewalls, routers, workstations, etc.) and external (WiFi) access points. Thus, it becomes crucial for a white hat hacker to test out the network locally from both the client-side and remote locations.

2. Web Application Tests

Web application tests are more or less targeted tests aimed at intense and detailed cyber attacks. Different areas which need to be tested using this penetration testing are browsers, plugins, extensions, and other components of a web application. This type of testing requires a lot of planning as the test examines the endpoints of each web app with which a user might interact during his usage. Moreover, web applications are now all over the Internet, and their increase in demand has led them to be the most promising and vulnerable targets. Thus, an individual needs to be aware of all the latest techniques to perform these pentestings

3. Client-Side Tests

Client-side testing is also known as internal testing, which is used for exploiting vulnerabilities in the client-side application program like emails, web browsers, software, and other tools. According to the latest research, cyberattacks are moving away from large multipurpose cyber attacks to smaller and targeted attacks that directly affect the client-side applications.

Client-side penetration testing is a must because an attack can quickly compromise the critical assets and the information which the users left on the client’s software or web application. As a result, it becomes a necessity to test out the employee’s susceptibility and network’s capability to recognize and respond to the attacks specifically designed to harm their application.

4. Wireless Network Tests

A wireless network testing will examine your network using a methodology similar to a standard wired penetration test. But in this form of testing, the white hat hacker will focus on wireless as the gateway to exploit the organization’s vulnerabilities.

5. Social Engineering Tests

Social engineering test orchestrates a cybersecurity attack that uses social engagement as a deception. By doing so, the attacker convinces the client to provide confidential details or valuable data that could result in a cybercrime. For the social engineering test to take place, one has to create conditions and scenarios that lure victims into the engagement. These tests can be in the form of phishing calls, targeted emails, and much more.

Top 10 Penetration Testing Tools

In earlier days, hacking was quite a difficult process as it required a lot of manual fiddling around with the network. But in 2021, we now have a full suite of automated testing tools that can help a white hat hacker exploit even the smallest of the cracks in an organization’s cybersecurity. Below is the list of some penetration testing tools that could make pentesting a lot easier and faster.

1. Kali Linux

If you are a white hat individual who is not using Kali Linux for pentesting, then either you are someone with the bleeding-edge knowledge for a specialized use case, or you’re mistaken. Kali Linux was formerly known as BackTrack Linux, and it was designed to be used offensively, especially in the case of penetration testing.

Kali Linux can efficiently run on virtual machines, and that’s how most of the time it is used for network testing purposes. Kali has every command which you require to exploit the tiniest of the vulnerabilities in any network. Most of the tools which we have mentioned in our list are already a part of Kali Linux OS. But be warned, Kali is used for offensive purposes only, so it doesn’t come with an excellent defensive measure. As a result, we would like you to keep your important documents safe somewhere else.

2. Netsparker

Netsparker is an automatic web application that is used in penetration testing. It can quickly identify everything from cross-site scripting to SQL injection. A tester can use it for checking the vulnerabilities of websites, web services, and web applications. The software can scan more than 500 web applications of the same type, and the users can customize the security scan with offensive options like attacking the back end data, database, front end, etc. Netsparker will find out the application’s weak spots all by itself, but in a read-only way, and will also present the proof of exploitation. Once the penetration testing is done, it will be instantly viewable.

A user can even add multiple team members for collaboration and easy shareability of the issues which were discovered in the testing. The automatic scanning ensures that the user only needs to set specific fields for the pentest to start. Moreover, as a white hat user, you get proof-based scanning technology that provides accurate detection of vulnerabilities.

3. Nmap

Network Mapper (Nmap) is a software that is used for exploring out all the inputs and outputs of a targeted network. It comes with tremendous built-in knowledge about many scan types. These scans can be used to exploit defenses and to detect security issues in the network. Nmap does a great act of balancing usability and configurability. The Zenmap GUI allows novice users to interact with a point-and-click interface for performing simple scans. If one truly knows how to use the Nmap, they can even add a range of flags that can precisely configure the details of their network scan.

During the scans, the Nmap and Zenmap will provide a running commentary on the state of the scan and the tests performed. Once the scanning is complete, Nmap will showcase the findings in text-based and visual form. The results of the scan will include detected systems, ports, and protocols which the users identify.

4. Acunetix

Acunetix is one of the most complete automated penetration testing tools. It is a web application scanner that performs the scanning of HTML5, JavaScript, and Single-page applications (SPAs). It is a pentesting tool that allows small security teams to handle complex application security challenges. Acunetix is the combination of intelligent automation and fast scanning, which gives a complete result. It audits the web application’s security by launching several attacks in a series one after the other.

Once all the attacks have been successfully completed, the software will provide the vulnerability report along with suggestions on how to fix those security gaps. There are so many manual penetration testing tools available that if specific pentesting needs to be performed, an IT security person can easily do it. The Acunetix provides a 14-day free trial, and the paid version starts from $4,500 for one to five websites. But you can ask for personal quotations as well, which lowers the price quite a bit.

5. John the Ripper

If you are doing penetration testing on the system, which requires you to crack the password of the username, then John the Ripper is the application you need to download. The software is CPU-based, but you can even use GPU processing to make the algorithm run fast. John the Ripper comes with all the primary cracking techniques, which include brute force, dictionary, and hybrid. Also, it has an extensive library of supported hash formats. A user can define unique hash function combinations to create a custom candidate for the password format, which can be used for the dictionary attack. Moreover, it’s an open-source software that can be used in Windows, macOS, and Linux.

6. Intruder

Intruder takes care of the threats which might be present in your entire IT environment. Thus, it offers industry-leading security checks and continuous monitoring of the IT infrastructure. The application can be used in scanning issues in both small and large-scale businesses. The threat coverage is over 10,000 security checks. It keeps a close eye on weaknesses in the network configuration, missing patches, application weaknesses like SQL injection and cross-site scripting. In less than five minutes of downloading the software, a user can start scanning the systems for vulnerabilities due to its quick setup and intuitive interface.

The software comes integrated with AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The company provides this software on a trial basis. But if you want to scan the systems and keep them safe, you need to go for the paid version. There are three paid versions, and they start from $97 per month. The Pro version starts at $161 per month, and a verified version is used for big enterprises and costs $1,195 a month.

7. Indusface

This is a single-page crawler scanner application that comes with a pause-and-resume feature. With the use of Indusface, a user can perform manual penetration testing, and the results of it can be displayed alongside the automated scanned reports. It guarantees zero false-positive alerts during automated scanning. In addition to this, its web application provides solutions to all the problems detected during the scanning. The application uses a js framework to keep everything aligned and is easily accessible on one page. It also provides an unlimited number of scanning to keep the full coverage of OWASP’s top 10 Internet vulnerabilities.

If there is some issue during the usage, a user can quickly get in touch with Indusface customer support and get the issue resolved. Backed by technical experts in the field of security, the support team ensures that each vulnerability is provided with proof of concept to ensure there are no false positives. Moreover, one can choose specific business logic vulnerabilities to find issues that can halt the working of the business.

There is a free version that provides essential risk detection. After that comes the paid version, which starts from $49 per month, and the premium tire scanner comes at a monthly price of $199. Indusface has been quite successful in the Indian market, and it has around 2000+ customers from all over the globe, but specifically, in India, banks and companies like Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, IndusInd Bank, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) trust their penetration testing on Indusface.

8. Powershell-Suite

The Powershell-Suite is the collection of scripts that are used to find out information about the handles, processes, DLLs, and many other aspects of Windows machines. With the use of these scripts, one can bind them together and use them to find if there are any vulnerabilities present in the given network or not. Powershell is one of the high-level proprietary programming languages which Microsoft developed for one purpose only, which is to automate the actions and configurations.

The language is based on object-oriented standards, but it can only be used in the Windows environment. As a result, one can use it in their Windows server operating systems as well. The Powershell scripting can be used to set up a VPN also, but to be able to perform all the penetration tests using Powershell, one needs to be highly proficient in its programming. It is entirely free of cost as it comes pre-installed with Windows.

9. ExpressVPN

To perform any penetration testing, one needs to have a VPN to keep the Internet browsing secure from three-letter agencies and scammers. A specific penetration testing method is designed to test out how reliable a VPN is for the organization. The first thing one needs to do is identify the VPN service provider and how the VPN protocol has been implemented to keep the data safe. The ExpressVPN makes sure that organizations can connect to more than 160 locations spread over 94 countries.

Besides this, it has no bandwidth limitation and provides online protection using security features like leak proofing and encryption. ExpressVPN can be used as a free software with some limitations. To access the plethora of features, you can switch to the premium version. Lastly, ExpressVPN can be used in almost every single platform with Internet connectivity. It also provides applications for Xbox and PS5 gaming consoles.

10. OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project)

Last on the list is OWASP, a product from a worldwide non-profit organization that focuses on improving the software’s security. The project is a suite that comes with multiple tools that can be used for pentesting several different software environments and protocols. Some of the flagship tools which come with OWASP are Zed Attack Proxy, dependency check, web testing environment project, and much more. In addition to this open-source suite, the OWASP also comes with the best guide and tutorials, which teaches about the best practices to perform penetration testing using different tools present in it.


These were some of the essential penetration testing tools which one needs to use to successfully find out the vulnerabilities in the network or the system. Pentesting is a crucial part of cybersecurity and must not be taken lightly. Therefore, we recommend using the best software and tools we have provided in the above list. We can’t select one from these ten tools as our personal favorite as each one has its importance and functioning. Thus, we recommend you go through each of them and find which one suits your penetration testing requirements the most.

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