Security Testing

The Top 10 Penetration Testing Software

Discover the top 10 best penetration testing software that can help to identify security risks, scan for weak points, and provide vulnerability assessment reports.

The Top 10 Penetration Testing Software include:
  • 1. GitHub Aircrack-ng
  • 2. Nikto
  • 3. Nmap
  • 4. Openwall John the Ripper
  • 5.
  • 6. PortSwigger Burp Suite Professional
  • 7. Rapid7 Metasploit
  • 8. sqlmap
  • 9. Tenable Nessus
  • 10. Wireshark

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is an effective method of ensuring the security of a network, application, or system. Penetration testing software helps organizations to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their infrastructure, as well as assess their overall security posture. By simulating cyber-attacks, pen testing tools evaluate security measures and determine defense efficacy against potential threats, thereby enabling businesses to protect their critical assets better. 

Penetration testing software can vary widely in terms of capabilities and features; some solutions may be designed to target different areas of a system or network. Some tools focus on web application security, while others specialize in network and infrastructure vulnerabilities. As the cyber threat landscape evolves, so too does the need for more advanced and integrated pen testing solutions. 

In this guide, we will explore the top ten penetration testing software solutions available on the market, considering their capabilities, features, and overall effectiveness. We will assess each tool based on various factors, such as ease of use, comprehensiveness, performance, and adaptability to different security needs. Our evaluations also incorporate customer feedback and industry-leading best practices. 

GitHub Logo

Aircrack-ng is a comprehensive network software suite designed for assessing the security of 802.11 wireless LANs. It consists of a detector, packet sniffer, WEP and WPA/WPA2-PSK cracker, and analysis tool. Aircrack-ng is compatible with any wireless network interface controller with driver support for raw monitoring mode and is capable of sniffing 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g traffic. It is available for both Linux and Windows operating systems and is commonly preinstalled in security-based Linux distributions such as Kali Linux and Parrot Security OS.

The software suite focuses on monitoring, capturing, and exporting packet data to text files for third-party tool processing. It is capable of executing attacks including replay attacks, de-authentication, fake access points, and packet injection. The platform will test Wi-Fi cards and driver capabilities, as well as cracking WEP and WPA PSK encryption. Aircrack-ng is a command-line tool that enables extensive scripting and integration with various GUIs. The platform works across multiple platforms, including Linux, Windows, macOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Solaris, and eComStation 2.

To utilize Aircrack-ng, users must meet certain requirements, including the installation of Autoconf, Automake, Libtool, shtool, OpenSSL development package, or libgcrypt development package. Additional requirements may vary depending on the platform. For example, Linux users require Airmon-ng, ethtool, and usbutils, while Windows users must use Cygwin and the w32api package.

GitHub Logo
Nikto Logo

Nikto is an open-source web server scanner designed to perform comprehensive tests on web servers. Nikto is not a stealthy tool, as it quickly tests web servers and leaves traces in log files or IPS/IDS systems. Nevertheless, it offers LibWhisker’s anti-IDS methods for those who wish to try them out. The software supports SSL, full HTTP proxy, and checks for outdated server components.

This solution checks for over 6,700 potentially dangerous files and programs, outdated versions of more than 1,250 servers, and identifies approximately 270 server-specific issues. Nikto also evaluates server configurations, such as the presence of multiple index files and HTTP server options, as well as attempts to recognize installed web servers and software. Scan items and plugins are consistently updated and can be automatically refreshed. Users can save reports in various formats, such as plain text, XML, HTML, NBE, or CSV. Additionally, Nikto features a template engine for customizing reports, enables multi-port scanning on servers, and incorporates several authentication options, such as Basic and NTLM.

The software also provides scan tuning for including or excluding entire classes of vulnerability checks and reducing false positives through multiple methods, including headers, page content, and content hashing.

Nikto Logo

Nmap, short for Network Mapper, is a free, open-source tool used for network discovery and security auditing. This tool is useful to system and network administrators for tasks such as network inventory management, overseeing service upgrade schedules, and monitoring host or service uptime. Nmap is compatible with all major computer operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

Nmap offers various features for probing computer networks, including host discovery, service and operating system detection, and adaptability to network conditions such as latency and congestion. Nmap’s features are further extended with specific scripts to provide advanced service detection and vulnerability detection. Popular in Linux and Windows environments, Nmap’s functionality ranges from fast scans to port scanning, version detection, and ping scans. It also includes TCP/IP stack fingerprinting and scriptable interactions with the target through the Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE) and Lua programming language.

Nmap is commonly used for security auditing of devices and firewalls, identifying open ports for auditing preparation, and managing network inventory and mapping. Other uses include monitoring a network’s security, generating network traffic, response analysis, measuring response time, finding vulnerabilities, and conducting DNS queries and subdomain searches.

Openwall Logo

John the Ripper is a widely recognized open-source tool for password security auditing and recovery that is compatible with a variety of operating systems. The software supports hundreds of hash and cipher types, making it highly versatile for use with Unix-based operating systems, web applications, groupware, database servers, and encrypted files. Examples of supported file types include macOS .dmg files, Windows BitLocker, archives like ZIP and RAR, and various document files like PDF and Microsoft Office.

Available primarily in source code form, John the Ripper is designed to correctly guess passwords by utilizing various testing modes, including wordlist, single crack, incremental, and external modes. Its popularity stems from its capability to automatically detect password hash types and multiple attack methods, such as dictionary attacks and brute force attacks. John the Ripper not only offers a free, open-source version, but also has a strong community support network.

For users interested in a commercial product, John the Ripper Pro is available. This is distributed primarily as “native” packages for target operating systems and is designed for easier installation, use, and optimal performance.

Openwall Logo
Pentest Tools Logo is a web-based platform designed to streamline the process of discovering, exploiting, and reporting common vulnerabilities for security teams. Developed by a team of experienced penetration testers, it facilitates reconnaissance, vulnerability scanning, exploitation, and report writing using over 20 built-in tools.

This platform’s features include Attack Surface Mapping, which covers network target reconnaissance such as subdomains, open ports, and running services. It can map web application technologies, detect web application firewalls, and discover hidden files. Vulnerability Scanning is another key feature, offering Web Application Scanning for classic and modern web applications, as well as Network Scanning to uncover various infrastructure security issues. Additionally, the Password Auditor tool can help find weak credentials, demonstrating the risk of unauthorized access. also enables users to exploit critical CVEs and web vulnerabilities such as SQL injection and XSS, extracting data to showcase real security risks.

The Pentest Report Generator quickly creates editable reports, simplifying report writing with predefined templates and a rich library of common findings. Users can also develop custom, reusable findings, and report templates. The platform provides Continuous Security Monitoring, with scheduled periodic vulnerability scans, automatic report delivery, and customizable notifications to keep you updated on security risks.

Pentest Tools Logo
PortSwigger Logo

PortSwigger is a well-established provider of penetration testing software designed to enhance the efficiency of security professionals. Their premier offering, Burp Suite Professional, serves as a comprehensive toolkit for pen testers to effectively identify vulnerabilities in web-based applications.

With over 15 years of product innovation and the backing of PortSwigger Research, this software ensures an optimal workflow for its users. Burp Suite Professional strives to streamline the penetration testing process through the integration of over 200 extensions, faster brute-forcing, enhanced fuzzing capabilities, and an in-depth manual testing approach. Additionally, users can further develop their skills by accessing PortSwigger’s Web Security Academy, which offers free learning materials created by industry experts.

By joining the large PortSwigger community, users can benefit from the shared expertise of thousands of Burp Suite professionals, collaborate to overcome challenges, and discover new vulnerabilities. Utilized by over 16,000 organizations worldwide, PortSwigger’s software proves to be a valuable resource for penetration testers and IT managers seeking efficient and reliable solutions.

PortSwigger Logo
Rapid7 Logo

Metasploit is a prominent computer security project, developed by the open-source community and Rapid7, a Boston-based security company. The project is focused on providing information about security vulnerabilities, aiding in penetration testing, and improving IDS signature development. Its most well-known sub-project, the open-source Metasploit Framework, is a tool designed for developing and executing exploit code against remote target machines.

Providing valuable information for both legitimate and unauthorized activities, Metasploit can be used to test the vulnerability of computer systems and break into remote systems. Metasploit is also equipped with anti-forensic and evasion tools and is pre-installed in the Kali Linux operating system. Rapid7 has further developed a proprietary edition known as Metasploit Pro.

Metasploit has become a leading exploit development framework, often releasing software vulnerability advice accompanied by third-party exploit modules. This highlights the exploitability, risk, and remediation of specific vulnerabilities. Metasploit 3.0 has expanded its capabilities, incorporating fuzzing tools for discovering software vulnerabilities, rather than being limited to known exploits.

Rapid7 Logo
sqlmap Logo

sqlmap is an open-source penetration testing tool that is designed to automate the detection and exploitation of SQL injection vulnerabilities, as well as taking control of database servers. It has a powerful detection engine and offers a wide range of features specifically for experienced penetration testers.

The tool supports a variety of database management systems, including MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and others. The software provides full support for six SQL injection techniques, including boolean-based blind, time-based blind, error-based, UNION query-based, stacked queries, and out-of-band. Users can directly connect to databases without passing via SQL injection by providing necessary credentials and details. Additionally, sqlmap supports the enumeration of users, password hashes, privileges, roles, databases, tables, and columns, as well as the automatic recognition of password hash formats and cracking them with dictionary-based attacks. Users have the option to dump database tables, search for specific data, and download or upload files from the underlying file systems of specific database management systems.

sqlmap also enables the establishment of out-of-band stateful TCP connections, offering interactive command prompts, Meterpreter sessions, or graphical user interfaces such as VNC. The tool supports user privilege escalation through Metasploit’s Meterpreter getsystem command.

sqlmap Logo
Tenable Logo

Tenable Nessus, a highly trusted vulnerability assessment solution, caters to the needs of security practitioners by offering a simple, easy, and intuitive platform. It extends beyond traditional IT assets, ensuring the security of web applications, internet-connected attack surfaces, and cloud infrastructure.

With Nessus, users gain accurate insights into their internet-facing attack surfaces and secure their cloud infrastructure before deployment. Nessus is designed to be portable and can be deployed on various platforms, including Raspberry Pi. Its dynamic plugins enhance scan performance, enabling faster assessments and valuable time savings. The solution also conducts safe web application scanning to identify vulnerabilities in custom application code and third-party components. Additionally, Tenable Nessus offers over 450 pre-configured templates for a better understanding of potential vulnerabilities and helps audit configuration compliance against CIS benchmarks. The platform features customizable reporting, live results, and an intuitive user experience, including a resource center that provides actionable tips and guidance.

Grouped view functionality allows simplified research and prioritization for remediation, while snoozing features enable users to focus only on the most critical issues at any given time. Overall, Tenable Nessus offers a comprehensive and efficient vulnerability assessment solution for various platforms and IT environments.

Tenable Logo
WireShark Logo

Wireshark is a leading network protocol analyzer, widely recognized as a standard in numerous industries and educational institutions. Developed and maintained by a community of networking experts from around the world, Wireshark is compatible with various platforms, including Windows, Linux, OS X, FreeBSD, and NetBSD.

This solution allows users to view network activity in detail, offering valuable insights into their networks’ operations. Key features of Wireshark include deep inspection of numerous protocols, live capture, and offline analysis, as well as a standard three-pane packet browser. It also supports rich Voice over IP (VoIP) analysis and reading and writing in multiple capture file formats. In addition, Wireshark offers decryption support for several protocols such as IPsec, ISAKMP, Kerberos, SNMPv3, SSL/TLS, WEP, and WPA/WPA2. With Wireshark, users can apply coloring rules to packets for quick and intuitive analysis.

The platform allows captured network data browsing through its graphical user interface (GUI) or the TTY-mode TShark utility. The versatile output generated by Wireshark can be exported to various formats, including XML, PostScript, CSV, or plain text, catering to professionals’ diverse requirements.

WireShark Logo
The Top 10 Penetration Testing Software