Top 15 Penetration Testing Tools (Pen Testing Tools) in 2021

In this post, I am going to bring some best Web App Penetration testing tools. I am so excited to bring these popular pen testing tools before you.

Note: You should only use these Security Testing Tools to attack an application that you have permission to test.

Here are some of the popular Penetration testing tools which are popular among Pen Testers.

Penetration Testing Tools


What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is also a type of Security testing which is performed to evaluate the security of the system (hardware, software, networks or an information system environment). The goal of this testing is to find all the security vulnerabilities that are present in an application by evaluating the security of the system with malicious techniques and to protect the data from the hackers and maintain the functionality of the system. It is a type of Non-functional testing which intends to make authorized attempts to violate the security of the system. It is also known as Pen Testing or Pen Test and the tester who does this testing is a penetration tester aka ethical hacker.

Must Read: Penetration Testing – Complete Guide

What are Penetration Testing Tools?

We use penetration testing tools to find and exploit vulnerabilities in a system. We know it’s difficult to build 100% secure systems but we have to know what kind of security issues we are going to deal with.

Popular Pen Testing Tools

There are many paid and free penetration testing tools available in the market. Here, we discuss the top 15 penetration testing tools.

#1. Metasploit

Metasploit is a computer security project that provides the user with important information about security vulnerabilities.

Metasploit framework is an open-source penetration testing and development platform that provides you with access to the latest exploit code for various applications, operating systems, and platforms.

It can be used on web applications, servers, networks etc. It has a command-line and GUI clickable interface works on Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac OS. It is a commercial product but it comes with a free limited trial.

Metasploit Features:

Some of the features of Metasploit are as follows:

  • It has a command-line and GUI interface
  • It works on Linux, Windows & Mac OS X
  • Network discovery
  • Vulnerability scanner import
  • Basic exploitation
  • Module browser
  • Manual exploitation
  • Metasploit community edition is provided to the InfoSec community free of charge


#2. Wireshark

Wireshark is one of the freely available open source penetration testing tools. Basically, it is a network protocol analyzer, it lets you capture and interactively browse the traffic running on a computer network. It runs on Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and many others. It can be widely used by network professionals, security experts, developers, and educators. The information that is retrieved via Wireshark can be viewed through a GUI or the TTY-mode TShark utility.

Wireshark Features:

Some of the features of Wireshark are as follows:

  • Deep inspection of hundreds of protocols
  • Live capture and offline analysis
  • It runs on Windows, Linux, UNIX, macOS, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and many others
  • Captured network data can be browsed via a GUI, or via the TTY-mode TShark utility
  • Rich VoIP analysis
  • Read/write many different capture file formats
  • Live data can be read from internet, PPP/HDLC, ATM, Blue-tooth, USB, Token Ring, etc.,
  • Coloring rules can be applied to the packet list for quick and intuitive analysis
  • Capture files compressed with gzip can be decompressed on the fly
  • Output can be exported to XML, PostScript, CSV or plain text


#3. NMap

NMap is an abbreviation of Network Mapper. It is a free and open source security scanning tool for network exploration and security auditing. It works on Linux, Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, BSD variants (including Mac OS), AmigaOS. It is used to determine what hosts are available on the network, what services those hosts are offering, what operating systems and versions they are running, what type of packet filters/firewalls are in use etc., Many systems and network administrators find it useful for routine tasks such as network inventory, check for open ports, managing service upgrade schedules, and monitoring host or service uptime. It comes with both command line and GUI interfaces

NMap Port Scanning Tool features:

Some of the features of NMap are as follows:

  • It discovers hosts on a network
  • It identifies open ports on target hosts in preparation for auditing
  • It is used to determine network inventory, network mapping, maintenance and asset management
  • To find and exploit vulnerabilities in a network
  • It generates traffic to hosts on a network, response analysis and response time measurement


#4. Netsparker

Netsparker is a web application security scanner. It is an automatic, dead accurate and easy to use web application security scanner. It is used to automatically identify security issues such as SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) in websites, web applications, and web services. It’s Proof-based Scanning technology doesn’t just report vulnerabilities, it also produces a Proof of Concept to confirm they are not false positives. So there is no point of wasting your time by manually verifying the identified vulnerabilities after a scan is finished.

It is a commercial tool.

Netsparker Security Scanner Features:

Some of the features of Netsparker are as follows:

  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Advanced web scanning
  • Proof-based scanning technology for dead-accurate vulnerability detection and scan results
  • Full HTML5 support
  • Web services scanning
  • HTTP request builder
  • SDLC integration
  • Reporting
  • Exploitation
  • Manual testing
  • Anti-CSRF (Cross-site Request Forgery) token support
  • Automatic detection of custom 404 error pages
  • REST API support
  • Anti-CSRF token support


#5. Acunetix

Acunetix is one of the leading web vulnerability scanners which automatically scans any website. It detects over 4500 web vulnerabilities which include all variants of SQL injection, XSS, XXE, SSRF, and Host Header Injection. Its DeepScan Crawler scans HTML5 websites and AJAX-heavy client-side SPAs. It allows users to export discovered vulnerabilities to issue trackers such as Atlassian JIRA, GitHub, Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS). It is available on Windows, Linux, and Online.

It is a commercial tool.

Acunetix features:

Some of the features of Acunetix are as follows:

  • In-depth crawl and analysis – automatically scans all websites
  • A highest detect rate of vulnerabilities with low false positives
  • Integrated vulnerability management – prioritize and control threats
  • Integration with popular WAFs and issue trackers such as JIRA, GitHub, TFS
  • Free network security scanning and Manual Testing tools
  • Run on Windows, Linux and online


Read more: JIRA Interview Questions

#6. w3af

W3af is a Web Application Attack and Audit Framework. It secures web applications by finding and exploiting all web application vulnerabilities. It identifies more than 200 vulnerabilities and reduces your site’s overall risk exposure. It identifies vulnerabilities like SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Guessable Credentials, Unhandled application errors, and PHP misconfigurations. It has both a graphical and console user interface. It works on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.

W3af features:

Some of the features of W3af are as follows:

  • Integration of web and proxy servers into the code
  • Injecting payloads into almost every part of the HTTP request
  • Proxy support
  • HTTP Basic and Digest authentication
  • UserAgent faking
  • Add custom headers to requests
  • Cookie handling
  • HTTP response cache
  • DNS cache
  • File upload using multipart

It’s a free tool


#7. Spyse

A search engine that uses an OSINT mechanic (Open Source Intelligent Tools) to collect, process, and provide structured information about various elements of a network. All Spyse users are able to perform a detailed search on the following network elements:

Spyse Features:

  • Domains and subdomains
  • IP addresses and subnets
  • Encryption certificates
  • Protocols
  • Open ports
  • WHOIS records
  • Autonomous Systems (AS)


#8. Kali Linux

Kali Linux is an open-source pen-testing tool that is maintained and funded by Offensive Security Ltd. It supports only Linux machines.

Kali contains more than 600 penetration testing tools that are geared towards various information security tasks, such as Penetration Testing, Security research, Computer Forensics, and Reverse Engineering.

Kali Linux features:

Some of the features of Kali Linux are as follows:

  • Full customization of Kali ISOs with live-build allowing us to create our own Kali Linux images
  • ISO of Doom and Other Kali Recipes
  • The Cloud version of Kali Linux can be set up easily in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
  • It contains a bunch of Meta package collections which aggregate different toolsets
  • Full Disk Encryption (FDE)
  • Accessibility features for visually impaired users
  • Live USB with Multiple Persistence Stores


#9. Nessus

Nessus is a vulnerability assessment solution for security practitioners and it is created and managed by a company called Tenable Network Security. It aids in identifying and fixing vulnerabilities such as software flaws, missing patches, malware, and misconfigurations across a variety of operating systems, devices, and applications. It supports Windows, Linux, Mac, Solaris, etc.,

Nessus features:

Some of the features of Nessus are as follows:

  • Reports can be easily customized to sort by vulnerability or host, create an executive summary, or compare scan results to highlight changes
  • It detects both the remote flaws of the hosts that are on a network and their missing patches and local flaws as well
  • Identifies vulnerabilities that allow a remote attacker to access sensitive information from the system
  • Mobile device audits
  • Configuration audits


#10. Cain & Abel

Cain & Abel (often abbreviated to Cain) is a password recovery tool for Microsoft Windows. It cracks encrypted passwords or network keys. It recovers various kinds of passwords using methods such as network packet sniffing, cracking encrypted passwords by using methods such as dictionary attacks, brute force, and cryptanalysis attacks.

Cain & Abel features:

Some of the features of Cain & Abel Password Cracker or Password Hacking tool are as follows:

  • WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) cracking
  • Ability to record VoIP conversations
  • Decoding scrambled passwords
  • Revealing password boxes
  • Uncovering cached passwords
  • Dumping protected storage passwords


#11. Zed Attack Proxy

ZAP is a freely available open-source web application security scanner tool. It finds security vulnerabilities in web applications during the developing and testing phase. It provides automated scanners and a set of tools that allow us to find security vulnerabilities manually. It is designed to be used by both those new to application security as well as professional penetration testers. It works on different operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Mac OS X.

ZAP features:

Some of the features of ZAP automated penetration testing are as follows:

  • Intercepting proxy server
  • Traditional and AJAX spiders
  • Automated scanner
  • Passive scanner
  • Forced browsing
  • Fuzzer
  • Web Socket support


#12. John The Ripper

John The Ripper (also known as JTR) is a free and open-source password cracking tool that is designed to crack even very complicated passwords. It is one of the most popular password testings and breaking programs. It is most commonly used to perform dictionary attacks. It helps to identify weak password vulnerabilities in a network. It also supports users from brute force and rainbow crack attacks. It is available for UNIX, Windows, DOS, and OpenVMS. It comes in a pro and free form.


#13. THC Hydra

THC-Hydra also called Hydra is one of the popular password cracking tools. Another password cracker in line is THC Hydra. It supports both GUI and Command-Line user interface. It can decrypt passwords from many protocols and applications with a dictionary attack. It performs rapid dictionary attacks against more than 50 protocols including cisco, telnet, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, MySQL, SVN, etc., It is a fast and stable network login hacking tool. This tool allows researchers and security consultants to find unauthorized access.


#14. Burpsuite

Burpsuite is a graphical tool for testing Web Application security. It is developed by PortSwigger Web Security. It was developed to provide a solution for web application security checks. It has three editions such as community edition which is a free one, a Professional edition, and an enterprise edition. Community edition has significantly reduced functionality. Burp Proxy allows manual testers to intercept all requests and responses between the browsers and the target application, even when HTTPS is being used. In addition to basic functionality, such as a proxy server, scanner, and intruder, this tool also contains advanced options such as a spider, repeater, decoder, comparer, sequencer, extender API, and clickbandit tool. It works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux environments.


#15. SqlMap

Sqlmap is a free and open-source penetration testing tool. It automates the process of detecting and exploiting SQL injection issues and hacking over of database servers. It comes with many detection engines and many features for an ultimate penetration tester. It comes with a command-line interface. It runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

SqlMap features:

Some of the features of SqlMap are as follows:

  • Full support for database management systems such as MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL, Microsoft Access, IBM DB2, SQLite, Sybase, SAP MaxDB, HSQLDB, H2, and Informix.
  • Full support for six SQL injection techniques such as boolean-based blind, time-based blind, error-based, UNION query-based, stacked queries and out-of-band.
  • Support to direct connection to the database without passing via a SQL injection
  • Support to enumerate users, password hashes, privileges, roles, databases, tables, and columns
  • Automatic recognition of password hash formats and support for cracking them using a dictionary-based attack
  • Support to dump database tables entirely or specific columns as per user’s choice
  • Support to search for specific database names, tables or columns across all databases’ tables
  • Support to establish a TCP connection between the attacker machine and the database server


#16. Sqlninja

Sqlninja is an open-source penetration testing tool. The aim of this tool is to exploit SQL injection vulnerabilities on a web application. It uses Microsoft SQL Server as a back end. It has a command-line interface. It works on Linux, and Apple Mac OS X.

Sqlninja features:

Some of the features of Sqlninja are as follows:

  • Fingerprinting of the remote SQL Server
  • Direct and reverse shell, both for TCP and UDP
  • Creation of a custom XP cmdshell if the original one has been disabled
  • Reverse scan in order to look for a port that can be used for a reverse shell
  • OS privilege escalation on the remote DB server
  • Extraction of data from the remote DB


Some other Penetration Testing Tools are as follows:

There are a lot of hacking tools and software in the market. So we are trying to include some other hacking tools in this list.

#17. Aircrack-ng


#18. Arachni


#19. BeEF


#20. NIKTO


#21. Canvas


#22. Social Engineer Toolkit


#23. Ettercap


#24. Veracode


#25. IBM AppScan


#26. Nagios


#27. WebScarabNG


#28. Maltego


#29. IronWASP


#30. HconSTF


#31. OpenVAS



We tried our best to list popular Penetration Testing Tools (both Open Source and Commercial). Let us know your favorite best penetration testing software in the comments below. If you feel I forgot to mention any of your favorite tools, let us know in the comments below. We will try to include it in our list and update this post.

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