“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear…”– Kali Linux
Ethical hackers or penetration testers exploit systems or networks to identify threats and vulnerabilities in them. Once found, the vulnerabilities can be closed before any malicious hacker finds them and exploit for unwanted purpose. If vulnerabilities are exploited by a malicious or black hat hacker then it may lead to loss of data, loss of trust in brand and even huge financial loss at times.
Hacking tools are a pre-programmed tools or applications to assist in hacking, or a piece of software that can be used for hacking purposes. These tools help in information gathering, creating backdoors and payloads, cracking passwords and an array of other activities.
There really are actually no specific “Ethical” hacking tools. They are really the same tools that would be used by a malicious hacker. The difference is for what reason you’re using the tool, to break the system or to improve it. It’s very important as an ethical hacker to be familiar with and be able to use the same tools that malicious actors will use so that he can determine the security posture of the organization’s system.
In this article I will discuss about five such tools which are free, widely used and very effective for hacking. These tools are first choice of ethical hackers from many years and no of people using these tools are increasing year by year.
Nmap is an open source port scanner tool that can also serve as a network scanner. We can scan a network for hosts that are active and then identify any open or listening ports . There is both a GUI and a CLI version of the Nmap tool that runs on multiple platforms.
It uses raw IP packets in creative ways to determine what hosts are available on the network. It also tells what services are running on those ports along with service name and version, like FTP, DNS or HTTPS. This includes operating system detection with fingerprinting and what type and version of packet filters or firewalls are being used by the target.
Nmap can be useful for –
- Finding open ports on local or remote hosts
- Performing network mapping and enumeration
- Vulnerabilities search for a network
- It can generate high number of DNS queries against domains
Nessus is a vulnerability scanner and It can scan multiple types of vulnerabilities which include remote access flaw detection, misconfiguration alert, denial-of-service, malware detection and sensitive data searches. It can easily scan any kind of web application scanning or mobile application as well.
Nessus is one of the many hacking tools used for vulnerability evaluations and penetration testing operations. Nessus is created by Tenable and it has two versions, free version for non-business users and paid version for the enterprise use.
Some of the features of Nessus includes-
- Finding unpatched services and misconfiguration
- Revealing weak passwords issues
- Finding various system vulnerabilities
- Automatic scanning for other security issues in the system
Metasploit is a vulnerability scanner as well as a penetration testing tool. Once you have found vulnerabilities in a system, you can use Metasploit to exploit it. You have to be very careful with tools like Metasploit that take it a step further to penetration testing, where you’re actually exploiting a weakness, because this could result in sensitive data disclosure. Or it could result in the bringing down of important network service for an organization.
It is an open-source penetration testing framework which is written in Ruby language. It is extensively used by security researchers for finding vulnerabilities and developing exploit code. Metasploit can also be used to break into a network to identify security risks.
The framework has number of security tools and some of the uses can be:
- Executing attack on remote systems
- Running security vulnerabilities scans
- Evading any detection from systems
- Testing of exploitability of vulnerabilities
Wireshark is a free and open source network protocol analyzer. It works on both a wired or wireless network, and captures raw network traffic which can be analyzed. While analyzing we can look for a particular pattern, troubleshoot an issue or try to discover a suspicious activity. It is basically a packet capturing tool that captures data packets in a network in real time and then displays the data in a human-readable format. This is helpful in pin pointing any potential problem in the network like low latency.
Some of the useful features of Wireshark can be –
- It has extremally advanced GUI which makes packet analysis very easy
- The captured traffic can be saved and analyzed later
- It can read data captured from other sniffer applications like Sniffer Pro, Tcpdump or Microsoft network monitor
- Support of more than two thousand different network protoccols
Burp Suite is another popular hacking tools used to test the security of websites. It is used to map out and list the different parameters and pages of a website by examining the cookies and initiating connections with applications residing in the website. It is basically one of the most useful web application vulnerability scanner.
Burp suite has combination of hacking tools built in and they are utilized together to perform a penetration testing.
It is user friendly and gives freedom to use advanced manual hacking techniques along with the automation.
Some of the notable features of Burp suite are –
- User can do automated crawl and scan of the target website
- Professional reports generation
- Open source software scan along with vulnerabilities scanning
- Vulnerability management feature
In truth there are numerous tools which are used by hackers. Apart from above, some more tools which are very popular are listed as below –
It is a web application scanner and it finds vulnerabilities such as SQL injection or local file induction. It also suggests actions to resolve these errors.
It is an open source tool and it fully automates the process of searching and exploiting SQL injection vulnerabilities.
There are below six SQL injection techniques which are performed by SQLmap –
- Boolean-based blind
- Time-based blind
- Error-based, UNION
- Stacked queries
It supports wide range of databases including MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, MS SQL Server, MS Access, DB2, SQLite, Firebird, Sybase, SAP MaxDB and HSQLDB.
Angry IP Scanner
It scans IP addresses and ports to find an exploitable service in a system. This scanner is also open source and cross-platform software.
Cain and Abel
A password recovery and hacking tool. Cain and able supports only windows operating system. It is used for password recovery by cracking encrypted passwords. The technique used for cracking is brute force attack. It can also record VoIP conversations.
John the Ripper
Also a password cracking tool which uses dictionary attacks method for cracking. Many different kinds of options available to optimize the dictionary attacks.
Hacking tools are applications or scripts that are used by ethical hackers for assessing weaknesses in systems. Once any vulnerability is found, it is properly fixed so that it may not be exploited by malicious hackers. However, these are common hacking tools and are used by both cyber criminals and ethical hackers to infiltrate or to protect a system, respectively.
Security threats are rising exponentially and now organizations are seeking more and more ethical hackers to fight fraudulent crimes and identity thefts. Every year we see number and scale of data breaches increasing. Knowledge of above listed hacking tools help ethical hackers identify possible shortcomings in the application or network of the organization, which is very important to prevent data breaches or malware propagation.