What Is Kali NetHunter? A Deep Dive Into the Hackbox for Android

Most of you know Kali Linux, an operating system dedicated to ethical hackers, filled with the relevant tools and scripts. The Debian-based operating system has been a trusted ally of cybersecurity professionals for nearly a decade now. However, not everyone has the necessary hardware to run their own instance of Kali Linux, which is where Kali Nethunter comes into play. This tutorial will explain how Kali Nethunter works and its different versions.

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What is Kali NetHunter?

Kali Linux NetHunter is the very first Android penetration testing framework for Android smartphones. Because NetHunter is an open-source project, developers can freely utilize it without fearing copyright infringements or other threats. This project grants access to the kali toolkit to compatible Android devices, allowing penetration testing. Furthermore, Kali NetHunter provides several unique capabilities unavailable on other hardware platforms.

The NetHunter interface allows users to work easily with complicated configuration files through a local web interface. Aside from this functionality, modified kernels that handle 802.11 wireless injections and securely link preconfigured VPN service comprise a strong network security breakthrough and a separate dropbox with Kali Linux constantly at your disposal.

There are multiple variants of the Kali NetHunter framework. You will learn all about their differences.

What Are the Different Versions of NetHunter?

There are broadly three versions of the Kali NetHunter framework.

  • NetHunter Rootless: The core application is available for all devices that aren't rooted/modified.
  • Nethunter Lite: An advanced package for rooted devices running the stock device kernel.
  • Nethunter: The complete NetHunter framework with custom kernels for specific supported devices.

The table below can highlight the differences between the three much more clearly.

Feature

Rootless

Lite

Nethunter

App Store

Yes

Yes

Yes

Kali CLI

Yes

Yes

Yes

All Kali Packages

Yes

Yes

Yes

KeX

Yes

Yes

Yes

Metasploit w/o DB

Yes

Yes

Yes

Metasploit w/ DB

No

Yes

Yes

Nethunter App

No

Yes

Yes

Requires TWRP

No

Yes

Yes

Requires Root

No

No

Yes

WiFi Injection

No

No

Yes

HID Attacks

No

No

Yes

In this tutorial on what is Kali NetHunter, you will now cover how the NetHunter works.

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How Does Kali NetHunter Work?

You will look at the various NetHunter components, which are effectively the building pieces of NetHunter's operation. The NetHunter's ROM comprises various pieces that communicate and rely on one another to function properly. Below, you will look at the three components that comprise NetHunter. The first is a modified Android Kernel, followed by a Kali Linux Chroot, and finally, but not least, a NetHunter Android app. You will now examine each of them in-depth to have a comprehensive understanding of NetHunter's operation.

-what_is_kali_nethunter

  • Custom Android Kernel: A kernel is a system component that allows applications to link to hardware to meet users' needs. Aside from facilitating communication, the Kernel also maintains system resources. Now, the default kernels inside Android do not supply all utilities for security and exploitation. Still, with a custom android kernel, any device can be empowered with unique features not accessible in stock kernels.
  • Kali Chroot: Chroot is essentially a full Kali Linux installation that allows Android to share network, storage, and other resources. The Kali Linux chroot is effectively the heart of NetHunter, and the configuration settings have been updated so that NetHunter functions seamlessly with the Android ecosystem. NetHunter has a chroot manager that simplifies the download and installation of chroot, integrating network, storage, and other services. This component is stored in an internal app storage region, and one must meet the installation's space requirements.
  • Nethunter Android app: The program that provides a UI to simplify the user's tasks is the final component of NetHunter. This software provides a straightforward interface for controlling the Kali Linux chroot. The fact that it has a simple UI does not imply that it is not capable. This application contains all of the configuration files necessary by NetHunter and is transferred to the SD card during the first run. Aside from the UI, the program also serves as a bootup service, allowing the service to activate when the device boots up.

Now that you know the various components of kali NetHunter, go through some of the most popular attacks in this framework.

Kali NetHunter Features and Attacks

  • Searchsploit: Allows users to search for exploits in the exploit database swiftly
  • NMAP scan: Nmap scanner interface
  • DuckHunter HID: Executes rubber ducky-style HID attacks
  • MAC Changer: Allows the user to alter the Wi-Fi mac address (all devices do not support this feature)
  • Home Screen: This is the general information panel, HID device status, and network interface status
  • Kali Services: Starts and stops the chrooted services while allowing the user to enable or disable the services at boot time
  • Metasploit Payload Generator: Creates Metasploit payloads on the fly
  • KeX Manager: Allows for quick VNC session setup using the Kali chroot.
  • Custom Commands: This allows users to add custom functions and commands to the launcher
  • Kali Chroot Manager: Controls the installation of chroot meta-package
  • MITM Framework: Inserts backdoor binaries into executables when they are downloaded
  • USB Arsenal: Manages all USB configuration devices
  • Mana Wireless Toolkit: Malicious AP (Access point) deployment with a single click

You have now covered the most popular attacks and features of the NetHunter framework in this tutorial on ‘what is kali NetHunter’. For better clarity, go through some of the advantages and disadvantages of Kali Nethunter in the next section.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Kali NetHunter

Advantages

  • NetHunter provides features that are not by default included in the original kernels of Android phones.
  • Qualcomm chips in Snapdragon SOCs have monitor support enabled.
  • The kernel builder's presence assists the easy creation of kernels that are not yet available to the public.
  • The use of GitLab CI speeds up the release timelines.
  • The Human Interface Device hardware is fully supported by default, but it must be enabled and configured through userspace controls.

Disadvantages

  • Not every Android phone is supported as part of the official NetHunter release; therefore, be cautious while downloading and running them since the wrong NetHunter may break the phone in some circumstances.
  • Because some internal WiFiWiFi systems do not allow monitor mode or data packet injection, an external USB WiFiWiFi adapter may be required.

That being said, you have reached the end of this tutorial on ‘what is kali NetHunter’.

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Conclusion

In this tutorial on ‘what is kali NetHunter’, you understood the importance of this framework while going through its components, features, and distinct advantages. Though it is catered to ethical hackers, most professionals in this line of work usually stick with the fully-featured Kali Linux after getting certified in ethical hacking.

The Certified Ethical Hacking Course v11 offered by Simplilearn can help you take the first step in the ethical hacking industry and, subsequently, the cybersecurity domain. From theoretical concepts like Information Security and basic terminology, intricate topics like vulnerability analysis and session hijacking are taught conveniently. With the market looking for more and more trained personnel every day, cybersecurity and ethical hacking have a bright future, and it's highly recommended to get in on the ground floor.

Do you have any doubts about what is kali NetHunter? Please let us know your queries in the comment box below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

About the Author

Baivab Kumar JenaBaivab Kumar Jena

Baivab Kumar Jena is a computer science engineering graduate, he is well versed in multiple coding languages such as C/C++, Java, and Python.

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