📢 Are you a TestProject user looking to migrate to an open source alternative?

Learn more
10 Best Penetration Testing Tools in 2023

10 Best Penetration Testing Tools in 2023

Cybercrime is becoming a growing concern. Reports state that global cybercrime costs can grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025. To protect your business from cyber attacks, you need an expert security team, best security practices, and the right penetration testing tools.

The penetration testing tools will help you identify the vulnerabilities in your organization’s network, thereby helping you fix them. Though many application penetration testing tools are available, finding the best testing tool could be complex. This article will help you choose the best penetration testing tool for your web application.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing, also called pen testing, is where testers simulate cyber attacks to determine an application’s overall security. It helps to identify the strength and resistance of an application to advanced attack and the vulnerabilities and loopholes that a hacker can exploit.

Recently big tech giants like Microsoft, Zoom, and Twitter faced data breaches. So, testing the security of an organization’s network is much essential. Also, security breaches are not limited to web applications but include cloud apps, mobile apps, and blockchain apps.

You can do penetration testing either manually or by automation. The manual method requires highly skilled pen testers, which could be expensive. On the other hand, testers can automate penetration testing using an automation testing tool that saves time and cost and is highly efficient.

Who performs Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is performed by certified ethical hackers. They use hacking methods to identify the strength and weaknesses of IT infrastructure. Using the penetration testing reports, developers can then fix the issues.

10 Best Penetration Testing Tools

There are various testing tools to help you find and remove the vulnerabilities in the system, but finding the right one for your web app could be challenging. So, let’s talk about some of the best penetration testing tools and the features they provide to users. The below list will help you pick the apt one for your application.

Note: These tools are listed in no particular order!

1. Nmap

Nmap, short for Network Mapper, is a highly recommended pen-testing tool. This tool allows users to conduct penetration testing for web applications and lets the users scan their networks.

The network scan will let you check for vulnerabilities that remain within your application. That means you can penetration test web applications to a full extent.

It also offers the ability to configure the network’s IPs, port ranges, and protocols. You can change them according to your preference. Also, the tool can scan multiple IP networks for open ports.

Top Features

  • It is a great tool that can map an extensive network with thousands of ports connected to it.
  • Fully open-source
  • Available free of cost
  • It supports Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

2. Wireshark

Wouldn’t it be great if you could test web applications with a tool that can deeply inspect hundreds of different protocols? Well, with Wireshark, you can!

The first thing that makes it reside in this list of the top penetration testing tools is that it is integrated with a network packet sniffer. Thanks to that, it can conduct a deep inspection on hundreds of protocols. And the team is adding more with time.

Another thing that makes it stand out from regular penetration testing tools for web applications is the ease of use. You can easily compress, decompress, and export the data. There is also a built-in network protocol debugging environment.

Top Features

  • Captures and analyzes network traffic
  • Helps to troubleshoot network performance issues.
  • Decryption support for many protocols, including IPsec, SNMPv3, WEP, ISAKMP, SSL/TLS, Kerberos, and WPA/WPA2
  • It runs on multiple platforms like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, NetBSD, FreeBSD, and many others.
  • Exports the output to XML, CSV, PostScript®, or plain text
  • It is open-source and available for free

3. Metasploit

Metasploit is an advanced and popular framework for penetration testing. It is based on Ruby and is widely used by certified ethical hackers and cybersecurity professionals. This tool helps you to simulate any pen testing you need.

Metasploit tool

Metasploit not only identifies the system’s weaknesses but also tries to exploit them further. As a result, you can quickly isolate and demonstrate the flaws and fix things. Furthermore, Metasploit offers the ability to automate manual exploits and tests.

Top Features

  • It is an open-source framework based on Ruby and is available for free
  • Easy-to-use and customizable
  • Most preferred for executing a larger network penetration test
  • Many plugins and settings to configure to tune scans.
  • It has a command line and GUI interface
  • Runs on Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows

4. Nessus

Nessus is a vulnerability scanner developed by Tenable Security. You can quickly identify and fix all the vulnerabilities, including malware, missing patches, and software flaws. You can also perform other security tasks like port scanning and network mapping.

Nessus tool

With the tool, you can carry out both credential and non-credentialed scans. So, eventually, the depth vulnerabilities will come to the surface. It can also cover network devices, which include servers, virtualization platforms, and endpoints.

Top Features

  • It offers customizable reporting and troubleshooting.
  • It has extra plugins to protect you from new threats.
  • Integrates smoothly with other Tenable products
  • Easily deployable on various platforms, including Raspberry Pi.
  • It lets you test your systems for over 47,000 vulnerabilities.
  • Easy to use and reliable
  • Fully portable
  • Offers a free trial

5. Nikto

Nikto is an open-source scanner that helps you test your web applications for potential security threats. It can conduct in-depth tests and catch about 7000 malicious applications and files. This is a Perl-based program that can run on different operating systems with the necessary Perl interpreter installed.

Top Features

  • Detects outdated versions of 1250 servers and also helps fix the flaws within the servers
  • It has full HTTP support
  • Customized reports are available based on templates
  • It can scan numerous server ports
  • Available for free and easy to set up

6. OpenVAS

OpenVAS (Open Vulnerability Assessment System) is a fully-featured vulnerability scanner. It supports unauthenticated and authenticated testing. You can also perform low-level and high-level industrial and internet protocols scan with the tool.

It is an automated tool that lets you scan your system and plugins for vulnerabilities. This tool can tune the performance of the scans. When carrying out a large-scale scan, you will want to get as much tuning as possible, and OpenVAS can offer it.

And if you want to implement your preferred type of vulnerability test, you have full access to the internal programming language. The language is powerful enough to let you carry out any vulnerability test.

Top Features

  • It is open-source and completely free.
  • It allows you to create custom scans and custom configs.
  • Easy installation and fast vulnerability scanning
  • Supports over 26,000 CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures)

7. OpenSCAP

OpenSCAP is commonly used for security assessment and vulnerability scanning. It is excellent for checking if a system is vulnerable to common vulnerabilities or configuration issues. Also, you can easily check the flaws of web applications. And the fact that the tools offer proper information regarding security flaws and their overall impact can make pen-testing a piece of cake for you.

OpenSCAP tool

OpenSCAP also offers quick security analysis. Through that, you can quickly identify the security status of the system.

Furthermore, there are options to perform security analysis with unattended, automated, and regular modes. And regardless of the complexity of the infrastructure, you can take advantage of these three modes.

Top Features

  • It is open-source and free to use
  • Security compliance
  • Vulnerability assessment

8. SQLmap

It is an open-source penetration tool that can automate detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws and taking over database servers. Since this is a Python-based tool, it works on any system that supports Python. The tool can also handle multiple injection attacks at the same time.

Top Features

  • Offers full support for PostgreSQL, Firebird, MySQL, Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, IBM DB2, and SAP MaxDB database management systems
  • Complete support for six SQL injection techniques: UNION query-based, stacked queries, boolean-based blind, time-based blind, error-based, and out-of-band.
  • Highly portable and compatible with most environments
  • Free to use

9. Aircrack-ng

Aircrack-ng is the best network software suite for cracking WEP and WPA-PSK in Windows. It offers a complete suite of tools to assess wifi network security.

The tool focuses on different areas of wifi network security. To start with, you will be able to monitor the network. In this mode, the tool will let you packet capture and export the data to text files.

Then there are attack testing tools. These include fake access points, replay attacks, authentication, and others. You can also check the driver capabilities, which include injection and capture.

Top Features

  • It is open-source and freely available.
  • Multi-platform support, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Solaris, OpenBSD, and eComStation
  • It cracks wireless network encryption

10. Kali Linux

Kali Linux is the most used advanced pen testing tool. It comes with many pre-installed tools like Nmap, Wireshark, Metaspoilt, and Aircrack-ng that helps with information security task like ethical hacking.

Kali Linux tool
Kali Linux

With this tool, you can get highly efficient pen-testing results. And as it has 64-bit support, you can use it to brute force password cracking too.

Besides that, various security tools are available to analyze your application’s vulnerability level. There are options for wireless attacks, reverse engineering, information gathering, and sniffing.

Top Features

  • The Kali Linux platform consists of a variety of tools and utilities.
  • It offers multi-language support.
  • It comes with more than 600 pen-testing tools included.
  • An open-source tool that is cost-free

Web Application Penetration Testing Tools: Key Features

So, there are a couple of things that a penetration testing tool needs to have to be effective. Here is a short description of each:

1. Detection of Vulnerabilities and Exploitation of them

For a penetration testing tool to be efficient at ensuring web applications’ security, it must be able to detect vulnerabilities. But that is not all; it should be able to exploit the vulnerabilities to offer you an in-depth analysis.

2. Generate Detailed Reports

Detecting and exploiting the vulnerability is one thing, and you being able to get accurate information about all of them is another. Some tools can detect and exploit but fail to offer adequate reports. However, without proper reports, the penetration testing tool is nothing but bloatware.

3. Cross-platform Compatibility

You might need to perform penetration testing on different operating systems. And when you are using a tool that only works in one, you will need to find another for other operating systems. That is quite a hassle. So, choosing penetration testing tools with cross-platform compatibility is better than others.

Why is Penetration Testing Important?

So, why should you do penetration testing for your web application? Well, there are many reasons. But among all of them, these are the main highlights:

1. Preparation for a Breach

The main reason to do penetration testing is to prepare your web application for attacks. Through the tests, you can get to know what you should do to handle different types of break-ins from malicious entities.

Apart from that, pen tests are a medium through which you can examine how effective your web application’s security policies are. Through the tests, you can also get solutions that will help you to prevent and detect attackers. Also, you can learn how to expel intruders from your system in the fastest and most efficient way.

2. Identification of Risks

Through pen-testing, you can get valuable insight into the channels of web applications. You can detect which ones are more at risk and which security tools you need to invest in. These tests will also enable you to figure out the right protocols that you should follow to ensure maximum security.

Eventually, identifying the risks will enable you to uncover major system weaknesses you might not know about.

3. Lower the Number of Errors

Using penetration testing reports, developers can build something with fewer errors. These reports will help the developers understand how malicious entities launch an attack on the application. With that knowledge, developers can become dedicated to implementing the most effective security measures.

4. Gain the Trust of Customers

Gone are the days when well-designed products were enough to win customers’ trust. In this era, you need the right solutions to protect your web applications from cyber attacks and to survive the current market. And penetration tests can help you take the proper measures in this regard.

According to Statista, 2.8 billion malware attacks happened in the first half of 2022. So, it is important to build your web application with the highest security standards.

Types of Penetration Testing for Web Applications

You can categorize penetration testing into different categories. Based on your business requirements, you can pick the right testing.

External Pen Testing

External pen testing is also commonly called as Outside-In testing. In this testing, the pen testers simulate attacks on the live application.

For this, the tester only gets the list of the organization’s IPs and domains. With that, the pen tester will try to compromise the target just like any real-world malicious hacker to check the application’s security. Thus helping you understand the effectiveness of your app’s security controls that are publicly exposed, as it includes testing servers, firewalls, and IDS.

Internal Pen Testing

Internal pen testing comes after external pen testing. As the name suggests, this method is for web applications hosted on the intranet. Internal testing has to be done after an external breach to identify how far a hacker can move through the network. Hence helps prevent attacks due to exploiting vulnerabilities within the corporate firewall.

Every organization must pay more attention to the need to pen test the application internally as they feel that no one can attack the system from within. But there can be internal attacks too. Yet, many developers do not consider internal attacks. So, what internal attacks can happen within the organization? Take a look:

  • Malicious employee attacks by aggrieved contractors, employees, and other parties that have resigned but has complete access to the internal passwords and security policies
  • Simulation of Phishing attacks
  • Social engineering attacks
  • Attacks using user privileges

Blind Tests

In blind testing, the tester simulates a real cyber attack with the organization aware of it. In this testing, the ethical hacker has limited information about the firm (For example, only the organization’s name), and they have to figure out most of the organization’s information like an unethical hacker.

Double-blind Tests

A double-blind test also imitates a real attack, but the fact that a penetration test is taking place is not known to IT and security staff. This test identifies how fast and effective an organization’s security team prepares during an actual potential attack to seal loopholes.

Targeted Testing

In targeted testing, the tester and the organization work together and keep each other aware of their activities. They perform testing on an open network where they can compare their results and find solutions to strengthen the systems that help prevent potential attacks.

Types of Approaches to Pentest Web Applications

Testers can penetration test either internally or externally to imitate various attack vectors. Depending on the objective of each test, the amount of information shared, and knowledge of the system they breach, the testing approach can be further categorized as white box, black box, and gray box penetration testing.

White Box Tests

White box penetration testing is when the tester has complete knowledge of the environment and access to the code and application design, including network maps and credentials they test. It is also known as open, clear, or glass box testing.

It helps save time and reduce the overall cost as it simulates a targeted attack on a system using as many attack vectors as possible.

Black Box Tests

In black box penetration testing, the pen tester has no information about the system they will test. Here, the tester would use the tools and techniques that a real-world hacker would use to attack.This is the most challenging testing as it requires high skills and experience. But this is the most helpful way to test the overall security of your application.

Gray Box Tests

In a gray (also grey) box penetration test, the tester has partial knowledge or access to the internal network or application. It is a combination of white box and black box testing. The tester may begin the testing with only the login credentials and may then gain access to the internal system.

This testing helps us understand how far a privileged user can gain access and the potential damage they could cause to the system. One significant advantage of this approach is that the reports provide an in-depth assessment of your network security.

How is Penetration Testing for Web Apps done?

Penetration testing for web applications focuses on the setup process and the environment. The setup process involves gathering information about the targeted web application, mapping the network hosting it, and investigating all the possible points of tampering attacks or injections.

That said, the steps involved in pen testing are as follows:

Step 1: Active and Passive Reconnaissance

Before anything else, you need to initiate the information-gathering phase, which is basically called reconnaissance. This crucial step offers the testers all the information they need to identify and exploit all the vulnerabilities.

Active reconnaissance means that the tester will be directly probing the target system. The tester will try to get an output from the targeted system. On the other hand, passive reconnaissance means gathering all the information that is readily available on the internet.The tester will not engage with the targeted system in the passive method. However, in the active method, the tester needs to engage with the system. And that is the main difference that lies between the two.

Step 2: Attacks or Execution Phase

After gathering all the information needed for the test, testers will need to start the exploitation step. They will need to execute attacks based on the information collected in the previous step. As a tester, you can rely on multiple tools for these attacks.

However, whether you will get efficient results from the attacks will depend on the data you collected during the reconnaissance phase. The info will enable you to narrow down the tools and select the one to get the best possible results.

Step 3: Reporting and Recommendations

Once you complete the exploitation phase, you need to start creating the report. This report will require a concise structure with all the findings. Make sure to support all the results with data. Also, describe the process in detail and state which methods worked.Other than just writing the successful exploits, you will also need to categorize them. You need to rank them according to the severity degree during this categorization.

Conclusion

Penetration testing is crucial in ensuring a Secure Software Development Lifecycle. And with the best penetration testing tools, you can get the best overall results out of the vulnerability tests.

The quality of an application depends on how an application performs overall. To develop such an application, you must use the most suitable testing practices and top testing tools to ensure the application is error-free and secures user information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Penetration Testing techniques?

There are a total of five different penetration testing techniques. They are:

  • Internal testing
  • External testing
  • Blind testing
  • Double-blind testing
  • Targeted testing

Does the Penetration Tester require coding?

Writing code is not required for penetration testing. Instead, code analysis skills are important for penetration testing.

What language is used for Penetration Testing?

Python is used for penetration testing. So, if you seek a pen testing career, you should know Python.


Test automation made easy

Start your smart continuous testing journey today with Testsigma.

SHARE THIS BLOG

RELATED POSTS