We are living in a digital world with lots of cybercriminals looking for a vulnerable system to exploit. This is why penetration testing is among the most essential parts of the security verification process. However, there is a wide range of penetration testing tools that pentesters can choose from, and most of them perform similar functions, which can be confusing when it comes to choosing the best tools for the job to save time.
In this blog, we will introduce you to what penetration testing is, the different types of pentesting, and the most popular tools used by pentesters around the world.
What Is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is a legal and structured procedure used by an organization to evaluate their security posture. In this procedure, the pentester will simulate an attack against the organization’s security infrastructure like the network, applications, and users to detect the exploitable weaknesses in the system.
The assessment results will then be comprehensively documented for executive management and the technical audience of the organization. Furthermore, penetration testing helps to determine the efficacy of the security policies, strategies, and controls in an organization.
The Stages of a Penetration Test
The penetration testing process can be divided into five stages, namely:
Planning and reconnaissance: This is the stage where you define the scope and goal of a test. You will also gather intelligence to better understand how a target works and what can be a potential weakness.
Scanning: This stage helps pentesters to understand how a target application can respond to different intrusion attempts. You can scan a network through static or dynamic analysis.
Gaining access: This is the stage where pentesters use pentesting tools like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and so on to detect the vulnerabilities in a target.
Maintaining access: The aim of this stage is to detect if cybercriminals can use weakness to achieve persistent presence in an exploited system to gain in-depth access.
Analysis: This is the stage where the result of a penetration test is compiled into a detailed report that includes the sensitive data accessed, the specific vulnerabilities exploited, the time the pentester was able to remain in the system undetected, etc.
What Is a Penetration Testing Tool?
Penetration testing tools are typically used as part of the penetration testing process to automate certain tasks and improve testing efficiency while locating issues that can be difficult to discover when using manual analysis. The two common penetration testing tools are dynamic analysis tools and static analysis tools.
Top Penetration Testing Tools
There are lots of different vulnerability testing tools that can be used by pentesters to determine the strength and weaknesses of existing security. Some of the top penetration testing tools are stated below.
Metasploit is regarded as the most used penetrating testing automation framework in the world. This penetration testing tool helps professional teams verify and manage security assessments, improve awareness, and empower defenders to stay ahead in the game. Furthermore, you can use Metasploit to check security and pinpoint flaws to set up a defense.
Metasploit is an open-source software, and it helps network administrators to break in and identify fatal weak points. It is also a great tool for beginner hackers who want to hone their skills.
OWASP ZAP is among the most dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools for finding weaknesses in web applications. It is completely free and open-source, and is regarded as the most popular web application scanner in the world. The best thing is that you can use OWASP ZAP to find security weaknesses in your web applications in the production environment.
You can easily automate it to scan for security issues in your CI/CD pipeline. Furthermore, you don’t need to wait for your app to be deployed before you can run a security scan on it with ZAP.
Kali Linux is an advanced penetration testing software that most IT professionals believe is the best tool for password snipping and injecting. However, you must know both the TCP/IP protocol before you can gain maximum benefits. Furthermore, Kali Linux provides information security experts with version tracking, tool listings, and meta-packages.
You should keep in mind that Kali Linux is best optimized for offense and not defense, as it can easily be exploited.
Nmap, short for network mapper, is regarded as the granddaddy of port scanners. It is a tried and true penetration testing tool that many cannot do without. Nmap is usually the best tool to gather information during the recon phase. Most small and big organizations use Nmap to map out the public security posture of an enterprise.
Learn More About Penetration Testing
With the EC-Council Certified Penetration Tester (CPENT) course, you will learn how to perform an effective penetration test in a network. Your pentesting skills will climb to the next level as you learn how to pentest IoT systems, OT systems, build your own tools, double pivot to access hidden networks, and lots more.
This is a hands-on course where you will learn everything about Metasploit to operate on a target network successfully.
Wireshark for Ethical Hackers (Coming Soon)
In this course, you will enjoy a real-life experience while learning. You will be taught how to analyze and interpret network protocols and leverage Wireshark for deep packet inspection and network analysis.
Ethical Hacking with OWASP ZAP (Coming Soon)
This course will teach you about penetration testing basics, application security testing, and automating application security in your CI/CD pipeline.
Mastering Kali Linux Penetration Testing
This course is for penetration testers who want to know the targets they have missed over the years or the perfect tools for penetration testing. You are going to learn about the passive and active methods of penetration testing from using basic tools like simple dig queries all the way to enumerating host and ports with Nmap, automating scanning with Metasploit, etc.
You will also gain a thorough understanding of the tools you can use to gather every type of information you need.
Ethical Hacking with Nmap (Coming Soon)
This is the course for you if you want to learn about the in-depth use of Nmap features that are usually hidden. This course will cover everything from Nmap fundamentals to advanced Nmap scripting and automation, which will help take your ethical hacking skills to the next level.