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Top Ethical Hacking Tools for 2024

ethical hacking tools

Cyber threats are an undeniable reality of our increasingly digital world. Businesses worldwide are grappling with risks such as data breaches, phishing attacks, and compromised credentials.

Staying ahead of potential threats requires skill and the right tools. Ethical hacking continues to be at the forefront of defense, with a slew of tools and techniques available to professionals in the field. Understanding these tools is paramount for those interested in or aspiring to build a career in cybersecurity.

In this article, we will explore the concept of ethical hacking tools and enumerate the top tools on the market. We will also cover how a comprehensive cybersecurity bootcamp can equip you with the required skills to dive into this fantastic field.

What Are Ethical Hacking Tools and Software?

The pool of cybercrimes is ever-expanding. Hence, almost 85 percent of the businesses attested to increasing their cybersecurity budget by hiring penetration testers, known as ‘pen-testers,’ ‘ethical hackers,’ or ‘whitehat hackers.’

Ethical hacking tools are the software used to test for security flaws in networks, clouds, servers, or computer systems. The motive is to think like a malicious attacker and explore all the possible nooks and corners they may use to hack into the systems. Ethical hacking reveals improvements required in the cybersecurity measures of a system.

An ethical hacker has the blessing of the concerned organization to use tools, software, scripts, and codes to identify the insecurities and access that organization’s network. They report their findings to the cybersecurity team, which then works on the vulnerable areas and enhances the cybersecurity measures.

Thus, the tools used have to be top-notch quality so that no vulnerability is missed. Hence, multiple enterprises are working on developing advanced ethical hacking tools in a market that is estimated to increase the ethical hacking market size by $5 billion annually.

Here are the key reasons why ethical hacking tools are critical in 2024:

  • Assess the systems without damaging the existing security measures
  • Safeguard the sensitive data in the systems
  • Identify the internal threats and the threats to the end users
  • Provide recommendations to fix the systems
  • Automate regular threat testing and reporting
  • Provide the perspective of the malicious attackers
  • Help flag potential breaches and threats at a moment’s notice

Most Popular Ethical Hacking Tools

All ethical tools are not the same. They have distinct features and uses. The major types of ethical tools are

  • Penetration testing tools, used for penetration testing and detecting system insecurities
  • Wireless network tools, used for assessing and identifying vulnerabilities in wireless networks
  • Password cracking tools are used to evaluate the passwords, their strength, and the possibility and ease of cracking them
  • Web vulnerability scanning tools used to investigate the potential threats and risks in online applications
  • Forensic testing tools are used to backtrace a previous attack, identify the root cause, and replicate it to evaluate security

Now, let us go through some of the top ethical hacking tools in the market.

Nmap

Nmap is short for Network Mapper. It is open-source software used to identify flaws in networks. It works equally well on all networks regardless of size. It is compatible with all operating systems, such as Linux, Unix-based, and Windows. It is also available in various versions, costing $7,980to$98,980. Here are some of its key features:

  • Conducts security audits
  • Can be used to assess network inventory, monitor host uptime, and manage schedules for service upgrades
  • It helps identify hosts on a network and related information such as services offered, operating systems, and type of filters
  • It adapts to the data congestion and latency during scanning

Wireshark

Wireshark is a network-protection software that can run on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. It is primarily used for analyzing network protocols. Wireshark is entirely free. The chief features of Wireshark are:

  • Capable of analyzing live capture and offline data
  • Has a GUI to visualize the collected network data
  • Is continuously developed to assess as many protocols as possible
  • Conducts exceptional VoIP analysis and has excellent display filters
  • Able to analyze and write multiple file formats such as Network General Sniffer® (compressed and uncompressed), rcpdump (libpcap), Cisco Secure IDS iplog, Pcap NG, and Novell LANalyzer, to name a few

Aircrack-ng

Aircrack-ng is a comprehensive set of tools that evaluate the security of WiFi networks. It was designed mainly for Linux but also runs on MacOS, Windows, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and NetBSD. It is a full version of the software available for free. The key benefits of this software are as follows:

  • Evaluate Wifi cards and capture-injection capabilities of drivers
  • Capable of packet capture for further data export and analysis using multiple tools
  • Tests cracking for WEP and WPA PSK
  • Offers packet injection for Linux Drivers
  • Helps assess attack modes by packet injection that helps replay attacks, fake access points, and de-authentication
  • Offers command line for scripting

Invicti

Invicti is a widely used software tool to test application security. It is available as a free trial or as software for individual or enterprise use, with costs ranging from $4,500 to $26,000. Here are some key features:

  • Uses combined DAST and IAST scanning
  • Combined behavior- and signature-based scanning techniques
  • Can be scaled and configured as per the requirements easily
  • Can automatically identify custom 404 error pages and URL writing rules
  • Uses Proof-based scanning to lower false positives

Nikto

Nitko is open-source software that works as a web server scanner. It subjects the web servers to multiple tests against risky programs and files. Let us review some of its key benefits:

  • It evaluates server configuration for HTTP server options and index files
  • Regularly updates plugins and scan items
  • Assess the system for outdated versions of servers and version-specific issues
  • Enables host authentication using Basic and NTLM support
  • Able to scan multiple ports on a single server
  • Can evaluate the ease of credential hacking for authorization

Netstumbler

Netstumbler is a tool that runs on Windows-based operating systems. Its primary function is to prevent wardriving. It can identify 802.11b, IEEE 902.11g, and 802 networks. While it is available for download, it provides a link on its website for people who wish to donate to the cause. The chief features of NetStumbler are as follows:

  • Detects causes of interference
  • Identifies unauthorized access points
  • It assesses the signal strength
  • Secures wireless networks

Maltego

Maltego is a tool for intelligence and graphical link analysis. It is an open-source Java-based software that can be used on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Some of its key benefits are:

  • Enables easy data collection from multiple sources to investigate issues
  • Can connect public (OSINT), personal, and commercial data sources
  • Helps streamline visualization of the analyzed data
  • Provides a public Transform server to execute standard or customized transforms on the data

Metasploit

Metasploit, a software tool used for penetration testing, is a Ruby-based application that runs on Linux, MacOS, and Windows. Metasploit Pro is a commercial version, while Metasploit Framework is publicly available. Here are some of its main features:

  • It is extensible with a user-friendly GUI
  • Permits seamless switching of payloads during penetration testing using shell-based access
  • Allows extensive customizability where users can access the source code directly
  • Capable of a clean exit without detection
  • Helps scan for vulnerabilities and target a pre-determined vulnerability

John the Ripper

John the Ripper is an open-source tool offered by Openwall. Its primary function is to audit the password security and allow password recovery. It is available in source code form. Let us go through its chief benefits:

  • Provides multiple modules for creating hashes from several file types like password-protected zip archives with zip2john, Secure Shell (SSH) keys with ssh2john, and .kbdx files with keepass2john
  • Enables the use of encryption and wordlists to reveal passwords
  • Demonstrates the ease of hacking weak passwords
  • Can increase the speed of password recovery

Nessus

Nessus is a vulnerability assessment tool offered by Tenable. It is a popular software among security practitioners and has been created to improve the assessment process. Some of its primary features are as follows:

  • Is portable and can be installed on a range of platforms
  • Provides a pool of templates to evaluate the most common vulnerabilities in the system rapidly
  • Can be applied during the software development lifecycle to weed out the insecurities in the process
  • Includes plug-ins that improve the efficiency of the scan time and performance
  • Scans cloud infrastructures

OWASP ZAP

OWASP ZAP, now known as ZAP, is open-source software for scanning web application security. ZAP stands for Zed Attack Proxy. Here are some of its chief benefits:

  • Uses crawlers to assess the structure of a website and obtain all the URLs
  • Can passively scan web requests
  • Able to identify SQL injection, insecure deserialization, compromised authentication, and cross-site scripting
  • Can be used through an API or directly as a desktop application

Autopsy

Autopsy is an open-source ethical hacking tool that recovers data from digital devices. Its primary function is to provide data visualization for digital forensic tools. Here are some of its chief features:

  • Plug-in architecture
  • Capable of extensibility
  • Offers Text Gisting module to translate audio or text from unfamiliar languages
  • Capable of rapid identification of hidden contents in big video files
  • Provides a summary of multiple videos
  • Flags video content that meets the criteria of further investigation

A well-designed cybersecurity program will train you to adapt and use these tools quickly.

Is the Use of Hacking Tools Legal?

Hacking tools are legal only if done in an authorized fashion. This might sound contradictory, but here’s what it means.

Hacking tools can be used legally if the organization that owns the system being tested gives explicit permission to do so. Ethical hackers must stay within the parameters and apply the process only to pre-determined features.

Therefore, these tools can be used if they do not compromise the security of the systems and focus on the technical flaws in the cybersecurity measures.

Conversely, using hacking tools to gain unauthorized access to computer systems or data is illegal and considered a cybercrime.

Get Skilled in Ethical Hacking Tools and Other Cybersecurity Basics

Ethical hacking is on the rise and requires people who are critical and relentless, pay great attention to detail, and conduct out-of-the-box investigations. If this sounds like you, enrolling in a well-rounded course can help you get a jump-start in this field.

Our cybersecurity course is designed considering the dynamic nature of this landscape. The curriculum will equip you with the most in-demand technical and software skills that top recruiters of ethical hackers and cybersecurity specialists look for. You will be coached by industry experts and get hands-on training through real-world projects. The prestigious course completion certification and networking opportunities are additional advantages. Overall, it’s an ideal program for anyone who wants to start an exciting career in ethical hacking.

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