The realm of ethical hacking or penetration testing has witnessed a drastic change with the advent of automatic tools. Currently, several tools that can pace up the process of testing are being developed. Ethical hacking helps organizations in better protecting their information and systems. It is also one of the best methods to augment the skills of security professionals of an organization. Making ethical hacking a part of the security efforts of an organization can prove to be exceptionally helpful.

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Top Ethical Hacking Tools

1. Nmap (Network Mapper)

Used in port scanning, one of the phases in ethical hacking, is the finest hacking tool ever. Primarily a command-line tool, it was then developed for operating systems based on Linux or Unix, and the windows version of Nmap is now available.
 
Nmap is basically a network security mapper capable of discovering services and hosts on a network, thereby creating a network map. This software offers several features that help in probing computer networks, host discovery as well as detection of operating systems. Being script extensible it provides advanced vulnerability detection and can also adapt to network conditions such as congestion and latency while scanning.

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2. Nessus

The next ethical hacking tool on the list is Nessus. Nessus is the world’s most well-known vulnerability scanner, which was designed by tenable network security. It is free and is chiefly recommended for non-enterprise usage. This network-vulnerability scanner efficiently finds critical bugs on any given system.
 
Nessus can detect the following vulnerabilities:

  • Unpatched services and misconfiguration
  • Weak passwords – default and common
  • Various system vulnerabilities

3. Nikto

Nikto is a web scanner that scans and tests several web servers for identifying software that is outdated, dangerous CGIs or files, and other problems. It is capable of performing server-specific as well as generic checks and prints by capturing the received cookies. It is a free, open-source tool, which checks version-specific problems across 270 servers and identifies default programs and files.
 
Here are some of the chief features of Nikto:

  • Open-source tool
  • Checks web servers and identifies over 6400 CGIs or files that are potentially dangerous
  • Checks servers for outdated versions as well as version-specific problems
  • Checks plug-inns and misconfigured files
  • Identifies insecure programs and files

4. Kismet

This is the best ethical hacking tool used for testing wireless networks and hacking of wireless LAN or wardriving. It passively identifies networks and collects packets and detects non-beaconing and hidden networks with the help of data traffic.
 
Kismet is basically a sniffer and wireless-network detector that works with other wireless cards and supports raw-monitoring mode.
 
Basic features of Kismet include the following:

  • Runs on Linux OS, which may be Ubuntu, backtrack, or more
  • Applicable to windows at times

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5. NetStumbler

This is also an ethical hacking tool that is used to prevent wardriving, which works on operating systems based on windows. It is capable of detecting IEEE 902.11g, 802, and 802.11b networks. A newer version of this called MiniStumbler is now available.
 
The NetStumbler ethical hacking tool has the following uses:

  • Identifying AP (Access Point) network configuration
  • Finding causes of interference
  • Accessing the strength of signals received
  • Detecting unauthorized access points 

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6. Acunetix

This ethical hacking tool is fully automated, detecting and reporting on more than 4500 web vulnerabilities, including every variant of XSS and SQL Injection. Acunetix fully supports JavaScript, HTML5, and single-page applications so you can audit complex authenticated applications.

Basic features include:

  • Consolidated view
  • Integration of scanner results into other platforms and tools
  • Prioritizing risks based on data

7. Netsparker

If you want a tool that mimics how hackers work, you want Netsparker. This tool identifies vulnerabilities in web APIs and web applications such as cross-site scripting and SQL Injection.

Features include:

  • Available as an on-line service or Windows software
  • Uniquely verifies identified vulnerabilities, showing that they are genuine, not false positives
  • Saves time by eliminating the need for manual verification

8. Intruder

This tool is a completely automated scanner that searches for cybersecurity weaknesses, explains the risks found, and helps address them. Intruder takes on much of the heavy lifting in vulnerability management and offers over 9000 security checks.

Features included:

  • Identifies missing patches, misconfigurations, and common web app issues like cross-site scripting and SQL Injection
  • Integrates with Slack, Jira, and major cloud providers
  • Prioritizes results based on context
  • Proactively scans systems for the latest vulnerabilities

9. Nmap

Nmap is an open-source security and port scanner, as well as a network exploration tool. It works for single hosts and large networks alike. Cybersecurity experts can use Nmap for network inventory, monitoring host and service uptime, and managing service upgrade schedules.

Among its features:

  • Offer binary packages for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X
  • Contains a data transfer, redirection, and debugging tool
  • Results and GUI viewer

10. Metasploit

The Metasploit Framework is open-source, and Metasploit Pro is a commercial offering, with a 14-day free trial. Metasploit is geared towards penetration testing, and ethical hackers can develop and execute exploit codes against remote targets.

The features include:

  • Cross-platform support
  • Ideal for finding security vulnerabilities
  • Great for creating evasion and anti-forensic tools

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11. Aircrack-Ng

Wireless network use is rising, so it’s becoming more important to keep Wi-Fi secure. Aircrack-Ng offers ethical hackers an array of command-line tools that check and evaluate Wi-Fi network security. Aircrack-Ng is dedicated to activities such as attacking, monitoring, testing, and cracking. The tool supports Windows, OS X, Linux, eComStation, 2Free BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Solaris.

Among its features:

  • Supports exporting data to text files
  • It can crack WEP keys and WPA2-PSK, and check Wi-Fi cards
  • Supports multiple platforms

12. Wireshark

Wireshark is a great tool for analyzing data packets and can also perform deep inspections of a large number of established protocols. You can export analysis results to many different file formats like CSV, PostScript, Plaintext, and XML.

Features:

  • Performs live captures and offline analysis
  • Cross-platform support
  • Allows coloring rules to packet lists to facilitate analysis
  • It’s free

13. OpenVAS

The Open Vulnerability Assessment Scanner is a fully featured tool performs authenticated and unauthenticated testing and performance tuning. It is geared towards large-scale scans.

OpenVAS has the capabilities of various high and low-level Internet and industrial protocols, backed up by a robust internal programming language.

14. SQLMap

SQLMap is an open-source tool that automates detecting and exploiting SQL Injection flaws and taking control of database servers. You can use it to connect directly with specific databases. SQLMap completely supports a half-dozen SQL injection techniques (Boolean-based blind, error-based, stacked queries, time-based blind, UNION query-based, and out-of-band).

SQLMap’s features include:

  • Powerful detection engine
  • Supports executing arbitrary commands
  • Supports MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and more.

15. Ettercap

Ettercap is a free tool that is best suited for creating custom plug-ins.

Among its features:

  • Content filtering
  • Live connections sniffer
  • Network and host analysis
  • Active and passive dissection of a lot of protocols

16. Maltego

Maltego is a tool dedicated to link analysis and data mining. It comes in four forms: The free Community version, Maltego CE; Maltego Classic, which costs $999; Maltego XL, costing $1999, and the server products like Comms, CTAS, and ITDS, starting at $40000. Maltego is best suited to working with very large graphs.

Its features include:

  • Support for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS
  • Performs real-time information gathering and data mining
  • Displays results in easy-to-read graphics

17. Burp Suite

This security-testing tool comes in three price tiers: Community edition (free), Professional edition (starting at $399 per user/per year), and Enterprise edition (starting at $3999/year). Burp Suite distinguishes itself as a web vulnerability scanner.

Its features include:

  • Scan scheduling and repeating
  • Uses out-of-band techniques
  • Offers CI integration

18. John the Ripper

This free tool is ideal for password cracking. It was created to detect weak UNIX passwords, and can be used on DOS, Windows, and Open VMS.

Features:

  • Offers a customizable cracker and several different password crackers in one bundle
  • Performs dictionary attacks
  • Tests different encrypted passwords

19. Angry IP Scanner

This is a free tool for scanning IP addresses and ports, though it’s unclear what it’s so angry about. You can use this scanner on the Internet or your local network, and supports Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

Noted features:

  • Can export results in different formats
  • Command-line interface tool
  • Extensible with lots of data fetchers

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20. SolarWinds Security Event Manager

SolarWinds emphasizes computer security improvement, automatically detecting threats and monitoring security policies. You can easily keep track of your log files and get instant alerts should anything suspicious happen.

Features include:

  • Built-in integrity monitoring
  • Intuitive dashboard and user interface
  • Recognized as one of the best SIEM tools, helping you easily manage memory stick storage

21. Traceroute NG

Traceroute focuses on network path analysis. It can identify host names, packet loss, and IP addresses, providing accurate analysis via command line interface.

Features include:

  • Supports IP4 and IPV6
  • Detects paths changes and alerts you about them
  • Permits continuous network probing

22. LiveAction

This is one of the best ethical hacking tools available today. Used in conjunction with LiveAction packet intelligence, it can diagnose network issues more effectively and faster.

Among its top features:

  • Easy to use workflow
  • Automates network’s automated data capture is fast enough to allow rapid response to security alerts
  • Its packet intelligence provides deep analyses
  • Onsite deployment for use in appliances

23. QualysGuard

If you want a hacker security tool that checks vulnerabilities in online cloud systems, look no further. QualysGuard lets businesses streamline their compliance and security solutions, incorporating security into digital transformation initiatives.

Top features:

  • Globally trusted online hacking tool
  • Scalable, end-to-end solution for all manner of IT security
  • Real-time data analysis
  • Responds to real-time threats

24. WebInspect

WebInspect is an automated dynamic testing tool that’s well-suited for ethical hacking operations. It offers hackers a dynamic comprehensive analysis of complex web applications and services.

Its features include:

  • Lets users stay in control of scans through relevant statistics and information at a glance
  • Contains a variety of technologies suited for and level of tester, from novice to professional
  • Tests dynamic behavior of web applications for the purpose of spotting security vulnerabilities

25. Hashcat

Password cracking is a big part of ethical hacking, and Hashcat is a robust cracking tool. It can help ethical hackers audit password security, retrieve lost passwords, and discover the data stored in a hash.

Notable features include:

  • Open source
  • Multiple platform support
  • Supports distributed cracking networks
  • Supports automatic performance tuning

26. L0phtCrack

This is a password recovery and audit tool that can identify and assess password vulnerabilities over local networks and machines.

Features:

  • Easily customizable
  • Fixes weak passwords issues by forcing a password reset or locking out accounts
  • Optimizes hardware courtesy of multicore and multi-GPU support

27. Rainbow Crack

Here’s another entry in the password-cracking category.  It employs rainbow tables to crack hashes, employing a time-memory tradeoff algorithm to accomplish it.

Its features include:

  • Runs on Windows and Linux
  • Command-line and graphic user interfaces
  • Unified rainbow table file format

28. IKECrack

IKECrack is an authentication cracking tool with the bonus of being open source. This tool is designed to conduct dictionary or brute-force attacks. IKECrack enjoys a solid reputation for successfully running cryptography tasks.

Its features include:

  • Strong emphasis on cryptography
  • Ideally suited for either commercial or personal use
  • Free

29. Sboxr

SBoxr is another open source hacking tool that emphasizes vulnerability testing. It has a favorable reputation as a customizable tool that lets hackers create their own custom security scanners.

Its main features include:

  • Easy to use and GUI-based
  • Supports Ruby and Python
  • Uses an effective, powerful scanning engine
  • Generates reports in RTF and HTML formats
  • Checks for over two dozen types of web vulnerabilities

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30. Medusa

Medusa is one of the best online speedy, brute-force parallel password crackers tools out there for ethical hackers.

Features:

  • Includes flexible user input which can be specified in many ways
  • Supports many services that allow remote authentication
  • One of the best tools for thread-based parallel testing and brute-force testing

31. Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel is a tool used to recover passwords for the Microsoft Operating System. It uncovers password fields, sniffs networks, recovers MS Access passwords, and cracks encrypted passwords using brute-force, dictionary, and cryptanalysis attacks.

32. Zenmap

This open source application is the official Nmap Security Scanner software, and is multi-platform. Zenmap is ideal for any level of experience, from newbies to experienced hackers.

Among its features:

  • Administrators can track new hosts or services that appear on their networks and track existing downed services
  • Graphical and interactive results viewing
  • Can draw topology maps of discovered networks

How Do You Use Hacking Software?

Here’s how to get started using any hacking software, either from the above list or wherever else on the Internet you find it:

  1. Download and install the desired hacking software you like
  2. Launch the software once it’s installed
  3. Chose and set the startup options for your hacking tool
  4. Explore the tool’s interface and functionalities; get familiar with it
  5. Test the software with a preconfigured external browser
  6. Use the hacking software to scan a website or perform penetration testing

You can use hacking tools if you fulfill both of the following conditions:

  • You are using the tools for white hat hacking
  • You have secured written permission from the target site that you plan to “attack.”
Check out the video below that will help you understand what ethical hacking is and the fundamentals of ethical hacking.

Conclusion

With the growing Internet security threats, employers now seek skilled and certified ethical hackers by taking up courses like the Certified Ethical Hacking Course to prevent fraudulent crimes and identity thefts. End users have always been the weakest links using which cybercriminals crack even highly sophisticated defenses. The recent past has witnessed several large businesses announcing major security breaches. Ethical hacking tools help companies identify possible shortcomings in internet security and prevent data breaches.

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