Security Testing

The Top 7 Red Team Tools

Discover the Top Red Team Tools designed to engage an organization’s cybersecurity defenses. Explore features such as intrusion and ethical hacking tactics, customization, integrations, and analytics.

The Top 7 Red Team Tools include:
  • 1. HackTheBox
  • 2. Kali Linux
  • 3. Rapid7 Metasploit
  • 4. Tenable Nessus
  • 5. Nmap
  • 6. PortSwigger Burp Suite Enterprise Edition
  • 7. Wireshark

Red team tools are software applications and frameworks used by cybersecurity professionals to test the security posture of a system or network. These tools are designed to mimic the Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) of real adversaries, simulating cyberattacks to allow organizations to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their defences. Red team tools encompass a wide range of automated and manual capabilities, including penetration testing frameworks, exploit kits, vulnerability scanners, and social engineering toolkits. This enables their users to assess the security of an organization’s infrastructure comprehensively.

Using red team tools enables organizations to proactively identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks. As they simulate real-world cyber threats, these tools allow organizations to uncover vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and misconfigurations in their defences and remediate those weaknesses before malicious actors can exploit them. Red team exercises also provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of security controls, helping organizations prioritize investments and allocate resources more effectively to mitigate potential threats.

In this article, we’ll explore the top red team tools designed to test an organization’s security posture. We’ll highlight the key use cases and features of each solution, including supported attack scenarios, customization and compatibility with different environments, integrations, and reporting and analytics.

HackTheBox Logo

HackTheBox is a dynamic platform designed to help organizations and ethical hackers improve their cybersecurity competencies. The platform provides tailored environments that enable penetration testers and cybersecurity personnel to refine their techniques and skills against a variety of potential threats and scenarios. It also offers structured guides to improving cybersecurity skills in line with specialized security job roles, and certifications that enable users to gain practical skills and accreditation that is recognized in the cybersecurity industry.

HackTheBox takes a “learn by doing” approach to red team exercises through its Real-world Scenarios. Comprising state-of-the-art labs that focus on the most recent technologies and attack vectors, these Scenarios enable users to validate and hone their cybersecurity skills through hands-on training. For organizations using HackTheBox to train their in-house defence team, the platform also offers an intuitive admin dashboard designed for a user-friendly management and reporting experience. From this dashboard, admins can track engagement and participation levels visually, and monitor users’ progress through their training.

While the platform isn’t a pentesting tool itself, it’s an excellent way for red teams to practice and validate their skills and teaches them how to use a multitude of tools that they could then apply to a live environment. Because of this, we recommend HackTheBox as a robust tool for both individuals and teams seeking to improve their pentesting proficiency in a challenging, yet supportive environment.

HackTheBox Logo
Kali Logo

Kali Linux is a Debian-based, open-source Linux distribution designed for information security tasks such as penetration testing, security research, computer forensics, and reverse engineering. It provides an extensive suite of tools for discovering system vulnerabilities and exploiting them, as well as assessing a target’s security integrity.

Kali Linux offers high levels of accessibility and customization, with pre-built versions available across various domains including mobile devices, cloud providers, containers, Windows Subsystem for Linux, and others. It has metapackages tailored to meet the specific needs of a security professional, allowing the easy generation of a Kali version that fits the user’s requirements. Kali’s optimization reduces the need for manual tool setup and configuration, allowing a professional to dive in effectively. It also has an “undercover mode” for use in environments where a user might prefer low visibility.

In addition to the pentesting tools themselves, Kali Linux also has well-documented user guidance and a vibrant, active community for support and tool suggestions. The community is built on a legacy from BackTrack and includes engaged forums, IRC channels, tool listings and an open bug tracker system.

Overall, Kali Linux delivers a powerful, user-friendly, and customizable solution for cybersecurity professionals and red teams looking to carry out pentesting activities.

Kali Logo
Rapid7 Logo

Rapid7 Metasploit is a collaborative effort between Rapid7 and the open-source community that goes beyond simply identifying vulnerabilities. It’s designed to help security teams manage security assessments, increase their security awareness, and stay ahead of potential threats.

One of the key features of Rapid7 Metasploit is the ability for users to run actual exploits on a system once the system version has been identified. This allows security teams to simulate real-world attacks and better understand the genuine threats that exist to their networks. Metasploit takes into account the wide range of potential vulnerabilities and helps to prioritize these based on the level of impact. This allows teams to focus their attention where it’s most needed.

Beyond just vulnerability identification and prioritization, Metasploit also helps red teams to identify the real-world impacts of potential threats and guides them in remediating vulnerabilities. It supports the collection, filtering, and prioritizing of attack information, helping teams to manage their security posture more effectively. Finally, Rapid7 offers a seamless integration with the InsightVM platform to deliver a comprehensive workflow for vulnerability management and penetration testing.

In summary, Rapid7 Metasploit is a robust security tool that empowers organizations to not just identify, but also understand and manage their potential vulnerabilities. Because of this, we recommend Metasploit to organizations that want to improve their threat awareness and overall security.

Rapid7 Logo
Tenable Logo

Tenable Nessus is a robust network scanning solution that identifies vulnerabilities in a network or device and generates detailed reports with possible fixes. The solution helps enhance an organization’s security by comprehensively scanning web applications, providing visibility into internet-connected assets, and offering secure pre-deployment of cloud infrastructure.

In addition to traditional network scanning, Nessus also offers efficient web application scanning that accurately identifies both custom application code and third-party component vulnerabilities. The solution provides visibility into the internet-facing attack surface, helping teams to identify their internet-connected assets and assess their security. Nessus also helps teams to uncover security issues as part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), ensuring safe cloud infrastructure deployments.

Designed with simplicity and usability in mind, Nessus features an intuitive user interface, from which users can access over 450 pre-set templates to streamline vulnerability identification, customizable reporting for bespoke security needs, and live results for real-time vulnerability assessments. It also includes a grouped view feature where similar issues or vulnerability categories are bundled together for easy research and prioritization. Finally, Tenable offers a resource center for actionable advice and guidance using Nessus.

In summary, Tenable Nessus is a comprehensive and efficient solution for network and web application scanning. It provides broad visibility into internet-connected assets and secure cloud deployment, along with efficient vulnerability assessment tools that allow teams to prioritize their immediate security concerns.

Tenable Logo
Nmap Logo

Nmap, or Network Mapper, is an open-source solution that focuses on network exploration and security auditing. As its main purpose, it identifies network endpoints and their characteristics, tackling various activities such as network inventory administration, tracking service upgrade schedules, or assessing host/service uptime. This versatile tool is compatible across Linux, Windows, and Mac OS.

The functionality of Nmap spans from basic network probing to extensive security evaluations. It offers host discovery and service and operating system detection, with an ability to adapt to network circumstances like latency or congestion. It also supports advanced service detection and vulnerability discovery through specifically designed scripts. In terms of scanning capability, Nmap offers quick scans, port scanning, version detection, ping scans, TCP/IP stack fingerprinting, and dialogue with the target using NSE and Lua programming language.

In addition to its core network mapping and security assessments, Nmap offers device and firewall auditing, open port identification for audit readiness, network inventory management, and security surveying of the network. Additionally, it can generate network traffic, analyze responses, measure reply time, expose vulnerabilities, and conduct DNS inquiries or subdomain searches.

Overall, Nmap is a comprehensive tool that we recommend to any red team looking to carry out network discovery and security auditing activities.

Nmap Logo
PortSwigger Logo

PortSwigger’s Burp Suite Enterprise Edition is an automated Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) scanner that offers robust web vulnerability detection. Built upon PortSwigger’s Burp Scanner technology and leveraging PortSwigger’s cybersecurity research team, this enterprise-grade solution streamlines security efforts and helps improve the security posture of web applications throughout their entire lifecycle—from inception to production.

The Burp Suite Enterprise Edition is designed for simplicity and ease, allowing teams to set up recurring DAST scans across numerous sites with just a URL. Its interface is intuitive, with interactive dashboards that help pinpoint trends and scan reports that can easily be exported for compliance purposes. The solution offers hassle-free integration with any CI/CD platform, Jira, GitLab, and Trello, coupled with a rich GraphQL API, making it easy for teams to build security into their existing software development process and facilitating collaboration between development and application security teams.

Additional features of the platform include expedient and accessible feedback on vulnerabilities, Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and Single Sign-On (SSO).

In summary, PortSwigger’s Burp Suite Enterprise Edition is a comprehensive solution that fortifies the security of web applications, enabling teams to focus more on eliminating vulnerabilities and less on managing tools. As such we recommend this platform to any DevSecOps or AppSec team looking to test and improve the security of their web applications.

PortSwigger Logo
Wireshark Logo

Wireshark is an open-source network packet analyzer, primarily used for network traffic investigation to help pinpoint potential vulnerabilities. It captures live packet data from a network interface and can open previously captured packet data files, offering flexible data analysis. Popular with both commercial and non-profit sectors, it is compatible with UNIX and Windows platforms.

Wireshark can capture traffic across a variety of network media, such as Ethernet, Wireless LAN, Bluetooth, and USB, depending upon the user’s hardware and operating system. The platform’s key features include the ability to import packets from text files containing hex dump data, export packets in various file formats, and the option to save captured packet data. To simplify navigation through extensive data records, Wireshark has strong filter and search capabilities that allow users to sort packets based on different conditions.

Additional strengths of the solution include display colorization based on filters and the ability to generate statistical reports on analysis results and discovered vulnerabilities.

Being under the GNU General Public License (GPL), Wireshark is free to use with no license fees and provides open access to its source code. Users can modify the code to incorporate new protocols as plugins or integrated into the main code. As such, we recommend Wireshark as a user-friendly, adaptable, and cost-effective choice for red teams looking to carry out network diagnosis.

Wireshark Logo
The Top 7 Red Team Tools