19 Powerful Penetration Testing Tools: Security Testing and Hacking Tools


Wouldn’t it be fun if a company hired you to hack its website/network/Server? Well, Yeah!

Penetration testing, commonly known as pen-testing is on a roll in the testing circle nowadays. The reason is not too hard to guess – with the change in the way computer systems are used and built, security takes the center stage. Even though companies realize that they can’t make every system 100% secure, they are extremely interested to know exactly what kind of security issues they are dealing with.

That’s where Pen-testing comes handy with its use of ethical hacking techniques.

Penetration Testing Tools and Hacking Tools

For more details about Penetration Testing, you can check these guides:
=> Penetration testing – the complete guide

=> Security testing of web & desktop applications

Let us now quickly see:

What is Penetration Testing?

It is a method of testing in which the areas of weakness in the software systems in terms of security are put to test to determine, if ‘weak-point’ is indeed one, that can be broken into or not.

Performed for: Websites/Servers/Networks

How is it Performed?

Step #1. It starts with a list of Vulnerabilities/potential problem areas that would cause a security breach for the system.
Step #2. If possible, this list of items is ranked in the order of priority/criticality
Step #3. Devise penetration tests that would work (attack your system) from both within the network and outside (externally) are done to determine if you can access data/network/server/website unauthorized.
Step #4. If unauthorized access is possible, then the system has to be corrected and the series of steps need to be re-run until the problem area is fixed.

Who Performs Pen-testing?

Testers/ Network specialists/ Security Consultants perform Pen-testing.

Note: It is important to note that pen-testing is not the same as vulnerability testing. The intention of vulnerability testing is just to identify the potential problems, whereas pen-testing is to attack those problems.

Good news is, you do not have to start the process by yourself – you have a number of tools already available in the market.  Wondering, why tools?

  • Even though you design the test on what to attack and how you can leverage, a lot of tools that are available in the market to hit the problem areas and collect data quickly that in turn would enable effective security analysis of the system.

Before we look into the details of the tools, what they do, where you can get them, etc. , I would like to point out that the tools you use for pen-testing can be classified into two kinds – In simple words, they are scanners and attackers. This is because; by definition, pen-testing is exploiting the weak spots. So there are some software/tools that will show you the weak spots, & some that show, and attack. Literally speaking, the ‘show-ers’ are not pen-testing tools but they are inevitable for its success.

A comprehensive list of the best Penetration Testing Tools, Hacking Tools or Security Testing tools used by ethical hackers as well as penetration testers:


=> Want to suggest any other hacking tool in this list? Let us know here.


Top 19 Penetration Testing Tools (Hacking Tools)

Here we go.

#1) Netsparker

Netsparker logo

Netsparker is a dead accurate automated scanner that will identify vulnerabilities such as SQL Injection and Cross-site Scripting in web applications and web APIs. Netsparker uniquely verifies the identified vulnerabilities proving they are real and not false positives.

Therefore you do not have to waste hours manually verifying the identified vulnerabilities once a scan is finished.

It is available as a Windows software and an online service.

Download link: Click here to learn more about Netsparker


#2) Acunetix

Acunetix logo

Acunetix is a fully automated web vulnerability scanner that detects and reports on over 4500 web application vulnerabilities including all variants of SQL Injection and XSS.

It complements the role of a penetration tester by automating tasks that can take hours to test for manually, delivering accurate results with no false positives at top speed.

Acunetix fully supports HTML5, JavaScript and Single-page applications as well as CMS systems. It includes advanced manual tools for penetration testers and integrates with popular Issue Trackers and WAFs.

Download link: Click here to learn more about Acunetix


#3) Metasploit

Metasploit pentesting tool

This is the most advanced and popular Framework that can be used to for pen-testing. It is based on the concept of ‘exploit’ which is a code that can surpass the security measures and enter a certain system. If entered, it runs a ‘payload’, a code that performs operations on a target machine, thus creating a perfect framework for penetration testing.

It can be used on web applications, networks, servers etc. It has a command-line and the GUI clickable interface works on Linux, Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. Although there might be few free limited trials available, this is a commercial product.

Download link: Metasploit Download


#4) Wireshark

Wireshark logo

This is basically a network protocol analyzer –popular for providing the minutest details about your network protocols, packet information, decryption etc. It can be used on Windows, Linux, OS X, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and many other systems. The information that is retrieved via this tool can be viewed through a GUI or the TTY-mode TShark utility.  You can get your own free version of the tool from the link below.

Download link: Wireshark download


#5) w3af


W3af is a Web Application Attack and Audit Framework.

Some of its features include fast HTTP requests, integration of web and proxy servers into the code, injecting payloads into various kinds of HTTP requests etc.

It has a command-line interface and works on Linux, Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows.

All versions are free of charge to download.

Download link: w3af download


#6) Kali Linux

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is an open source project that is maintained by Offensive Security. Few prime features of Kali Linux include Accessibility, Full Customisation of Kali ISOs, Live USB with Multiple Persistence Stores, Full Disk Encryption, Running on android, Disk Encryption on Raspberry Pi 2, etc.

Tools Listings, Metapackages and version Tracking are some of the Penetration Testing tools present in Kali Linux. For more information and in order to download, visit the below page.

Download link: Kali Linux download


#7) Nessus

Nessus logo

Nessus is also a scanner and it needs to be watched out for. It is one of the most robust vulnerability identifier tools available. It specializes in compliance checks, Sensitive data searches, IPs scan, website scanning etc. and aids in finding the ‘weak-spots’.

It works best on most of the environments. For more information and in order to download, visit the below page.

Download link: Nessus download


#8) Burpsuite

Burpsuite logo

Burp suite is also essentially a scanner (with a limited “intruder” tool for attacks), although many security testing specialists swear that pen-testing without this tool is unimaginable. The tool is not free, but very cost effective.

Take a look at it on the below download page. It mainly works wonders with intercepting proxy, crawling content and functionality, web application scanning etc.  You can use this on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux environments.

Download link: Burp suite download


#9) Cain & Abel

If cracking encrypted passwords or network keys is what you need, then Cain & Abel is the perfect tool for you.

It uses network sniffing, Dictionary, Brute-Force & Cryptanalysis attacks, cache uncovering and routing protocol analysis methods to achieve this. Check out information about this free to use a tool at the below page. This is exclusively for Microsoft operating systems.

Download link: Cain & Abel download


#10) Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

Zed Attack Proxy logo

ZAP is completely free to use, scanner and security vulnerability finder for web applications. ZAP includes Proxy intercepting aspects, a variety of scanners, spiders etc.

It works best on most platforms. For more information and in order to download visit the below page.

Download link: ZAP download


#11) John The Ripper

John The Ripper logo

Another password cracker in line is John the Ripper. This tool works on most of the environments, although it’s primarily for UNIX systems. It is considered as one of the fastest tools in this genre.

Password hash code and strength-checking code are also made available to be integrated into your own software/code which I think is very unique. This tool comes in a pro and free form. Check out its site to obtain the software on this page.

Download link: John the Ripper download

#12) Retina

Retina logo

As opposed to a certain application or a server, Retina targets the entire environment at a particular company/firm. It comes as a package called Retina Community.

It is a commercial product and is a sort of a vulnerability management tool more than a pen-testing tool. It works on having scheduled assessments and presenting results. Check out more about this package at the below page.

Download link: Retina download

#13) Sqlmap

Sqlmap pen test logo

Sqlmap is again a good open source pe-testing tool. This tool is mainly used for detecting and exploiting SQL injection issues in an application and hacking over of database servers.

It comes with the command-line interface. Platform: Linux, Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows are its supported platforms. All versions of this tool are free for download. Check out the below page for details.

Download link: Sqlmap download

#14) Canvas

Canvas pen test logo

Immunity’s CANVAS is a widely used tool that contains more than 400 exploits and multiple payload options. It renders useful for web applications, wireless systems, networks etc.

It has a command-line and GUI interface, works best on Linux, Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It is not free of charge and more information can be found at the below page.

Download link: Canvas download

#15) Social Engineer Toolkit

Social Engineer Toolkit logo

The Social-Engineer Toolkit (SET) is a unique tool in terms that the attacks are targeted at the human element than on the system element. It has features that let you send emails, java applets, etc containing the attack code. It goes without saying that this tool is to be used very carefully and only for ‘white-hat’ reasons.

It has a command-line interface, works on Linux, Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It is open source and can be found at below page.

Download link: SET download

#16) Sqlninja

Sqlninja penetration testing

Sqlninja, as the name, indicates it is all about taking over the DB server using SQL injection in any environment. This product by itself claims not to be so stable. Its popularity indicates how robust it is already with the DB related vulnerability exploitation.

It has a command-line interface, works best on Linux, Apple Mac OS X and not on Microsoft Windows. It is an open source and can be found at the below page.

Download link: Sqlninja download

#17) Nmap

Nmap logo

“Network Mapper” though not necessarily a pen-testing tool, it is a must-have tool for ethical hackers. This is a very popular hacking tool that predominantly aids in understanding the characteristics of any target network.

The characteristics include host, services, OS, packet filters/firewalls etc.  It works on most of the environments and is open sourced.

Download link: Nmap download

#18) BeEF

BeEF pen testing tool

BeEF stands for The Browser Exploitation Framework. It is a penetration testing tool that focuses on the web browser which means, it takes advantage of the fact that an open web-browser is the window(or crack) into a target system and designs its attacks to go on from this point.

It has a GUI interface, works on Linux, Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It is an open source and can be found at the below page.

Download link: BeEF download

#19) Dradis

Dradis pen testing tool

Dradis is an open source framework (a web application) that helps with maintaining the information that can be shared among the participants of a pen-test. The information collected helps to understand what is done and what needs to be done.

It achieves this purpose by the means of plugins to read and collect data from network scanning tools like Nmap, w3af, Nessus, Burp Suite, Nikto and much more.  It has a GUI interface, works on Linux, Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It is an open source and can be found at the below page.

Download link: Dradis download


Additional Hacking Tools for Ethical Hacking and Pen-Testing

The above given is a huge list of penetration tools but that is not the end. There are few more hacking tools and software that are gaining momentum in recent times.

Here are these:

20) Ettercap: A network and host analysis tool that provides sniffing and protocol dissection among other things. More info here.

21) Veracode: Works with the code development process to ensure security and minimize the vulnerabilities at the source level. Check here.

22) Aircrack-ng: Captures data packets and uses the same for recovery of 802.11 WEP and WPA-PSK keys. Download here.

23) Arachni: This is a Ruby framework that helps in analyzing web application security. It performs a meta-analysis on the HTTP responses it receives during an audit process and presents various insights into how secure the application is. Download here.

24) IBM AppScan:  As the name itself indicates, this is a scanner that identifies problem areas and suggests remedial actions. Download here.

25) Nagios:  This Software when used will monitor the entire environment including servers, applications, network – the entire infrastructure and alert when a potential problem is detected. Download here.

26) WebScarabNG: This tool uses the HTTP/https requests between the browser and the server to understand, capture and sometimes modify the parameters that are part of the communication between the two parties. Download here.

27) Maltego: This is a unique tool that focuses on showing/highlighting the relationships between people, sites, infrastructure etc. in order to identify inconsistent/incorrect connections. Download here.

28) IronWASP: It is a customizable scanner creator for web applications using python/ruby scripting. Download here.

29) HconSTF: Using this tool you can create your own web exploits, decoys that you can use to exploit vulnerabilities in the areas of passwords, databases, network etc. Download here.

30) OpenVAS: Stands for Open Vulnerabilities Assessment System. Well, the name says it all. For more info, check here.

31) Secunia PSI: It is a personal software inspector that will keep your system secure when installed. Try it here.

We hope this piques your interest in the pen-testing field and provides you with the necessary information to get started. A word of caution: remember to wear your ‘White-hat’ because with great power comes great responsibility- and we don’t want to be the ones to misuse it. :-)

Over to you

Have you performed pen-testing before? If yes, please share your experiences. Which hacking and penetration testing tool do you use? If we missed any important tool in this list please let us know in the comments below.


=> Missing any tool in this list? Let us know here.


48 thoughts on “19 Powerful Penetration Testing Tools: Security Testing and Hacking Tools

  1. backtrack doesn’t “only work on Linux” it IS a Linux distro. Almost all the tools listed here are available by default in backtrack or can be loaded quite easily.

  2. I’m interested in this pen-testing though I have not tested before. But will do it going forward and let you know. Currently trying ZAP which seems to be good.

  3. hii frnds….
    please tell me which tool is best for pentration testing that we test web application easily and identify security issues like login ,request,session…

  4. hiii vijay….thanks for intraction but u don’t tell me which tool will be best for pentration testing…so tell me soon..

  5. Hi there.

    I think Secunia was not a suitable selection for this title. Also some of mentioned tools are a part of special distros like Backtrack which includes Metasploit, BeEF, …etc.

    Anyway, I appreciate this useful list.

    Best of luck bros

  6. There are no reporting tools in the list. If the report you deliver to your clients is poor, then it will make your testing look poor. Dont forget about reporting it is the most important part since without a report your clients do not get anything.

  7. Sir i feel so glad that the indians are doing a good job in pentesting including u…….i have also.have some dreams please in my some researches plzzz this is my humble request to u….

  8. Use kali, bugtraq or backbox linux … windows is shit linux rocks It contains tons of tools for penetration testing live happy

  9. Also check out Smart Pentester, Which is a FREE SSH based Penetration Testing Framework. It provides a GUI for well known tools like nmap,hping,tcpdump,volatility,hydra and etc.

  10. Hi Swati,

    I’ve over 5 years of experience in functional and automation testing. I’m very much interested to learn Security testing (At least web applications penetration testing) but didn’t get any right helpful resource. Can you please help me out in this. Any process or planning kind of document you can suggest that i can follow to master in security testing. Please send me helpful reference links or any tutorials or best tool to start with or any suggestion on learning security testing (penetration tester) , Please send it to jain.sumith@gmail.com


  11. not good i sat down and typed in powerful penatration and i was upset to see not one image, gif or short video on it please add some or change the name.

  12. I am bit familiar with wire-shark protocol analyzer tool and QualysGurard Vulnerability management tool, interested in knowing and learning other technologies being a security tester. This website has a huge collection of penetration testing tool and i am glad to be joining the team.

  13. Hi,

    I would like to know what is the best online penetration testing course, and advises have you got for beginners in pen testing.


  14. Interesting that this list shows Nessus, NMAP and even the 1990’s SATAN open source tool, but does not show SAINT. SAINT’s current product offers vulnerability scanning; content scanning; web application scanning; exploit tools; vulnerability-specific exploits; pentest scan policies; configuration auditing; and even new research on vulnerabilities in router firmware. I would highly recommend it for inclusion on this list.

  15. i use metasploit, wireshark, nmap, hydra and aircrack-ng…

    all in windows 7 -> in my pendrives (portable)

    i find it intresting to use it all in portable becouse you don’t need your computer to make penetration tester

    just pedrives is enaugh…

  16. What a fool you are….backtrack/kalilinux itself a linux operating system, its not a tool you fool…..kali linux is one of and famous linux distribution for penetration.

  17. Hi All,

    I am satheeskumar. Working in BPS domain as a system admin. I have completed MCA in 2011.
    I have completed CEH V8 recently. Have knowledge in Networking as well.

    I would like to continue my career in Ethical hacking based projects.
    Please anybody assist me to move on ahead.

    Contact Details:

    Cell:+91 96988 72933
    Email: satindh@gmail.com

  18. Hi Swati,

    I’ve over 2 years of experience in functional and automation testing. I’m very much interested to learn Security testing (At least web applications penetration testing) but didn’t get any right helpful resource. Can you please help me out in this. Any process or planning kind of document you can suggest that i can follow to master in security testing. Please send me helpful reference links or any tutorials or best tool to start with or any suggestion on learning security testing (penetration tester) , Please send it to iqbal.is786@gmail.com


  19. Very nice article but you have forgotten the very first and most important step. Get authorization to penetrate the target in writing to include the scope of your efforts.
    Also while these tools are great, don’t forget that true pen testing should include that use of social methods. Phishing, physical access, dumpster driving …

  20. Hmm…not bad …
    But some tools are missing buddy…..
    in the post …..and it looks little non interesting ….
    because of HTML/CSS has not been used …..properly to make website …
    well all over …it was a nice post
    Keep it Up..

  21. I have tried quixxi vulnerability tester for mobile apps.
    this can help someone vulnerabilitytest.quixxi.com.
    What do you think guys?

  22. Seriously.. Some people are trying XSS on this site, which is sharing some educational.. Please don’t show off over here..

  23. Hi all
    I have 1+ Year experience in web application security, I want to learn Functional Testing and Automation testing of web application.Please let me help any one improve my skills.

  24. Cain and abel. no more.
    just looked on the softonic site. they say …

    Cain & Abel 4.9.41

    Security & Privacy This download is no longer available. This could be due to the program being discontinued, having a security issue or for some other reason.

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