If you're serious about your application's security, then you may be well acquainted with penetration testing. Whether it's a desktop app, a web app, or a mobile app, penetration testing should be a priority in 2022. We have precisely what you're searching for - the best tools you can use for penetration testing. This article was written so you understand the importance of penetration testing, know the different ways you can do this, and finally, get an idea of the 10 best tools available for you to achieve this on your own.
What’s penetration testing?
By simulating attacks on your application with the intent of finding vulnerabilities, you basically perform penetration testing. The goal is to find the loopholes that could be exploited and fix them before a hacker learns about them and decides to take advantage of the situation.
Why is penetration testing important?
Penetration testing should never be taken lightly, especially if you're working on a large scale project or anything of value, really. You need to make sure your app has no vulnerabilities that a hacker could easily find and exploit. It's important to stress that an ethical hacker is not out to get you. They're simply trying to help you find and fix vulnerabilities before a hacker does.
How does it work?
Ethical hackers are tasked with intentionally breaching your application. This is done to understand how well your application would stand the test of real-time events. As the owner of the application, it is your responsibility to ensure vulnerabilities are not left unattended. Find and fix them at the earliest.
Three ways you can perform penetration testing
There are three ways you can perform penetration testing on your app:
- Manual Penetration Testing: Performing the tests manually with no tools. This is a very time-consuming process and it's not recommended for large applications or businesses.
- Automated Penetration Testing: Using automated tools to find vulnerabilities in your app. These tools may be quite successful, but they can also miss some flaws.
- Hybrid Penetration Testing: A combination of the two methods listed above. This is often considered to be the best way to perform penetration testing as it combines the speed and accuracy of automated tools with the manual inspection of vulnerabilities.
While automated tools are recommended to save time when penetration testing larger applications, it is not advisable to do this without having someone with expert knowledge oversee the testing process.
Different Methods of Penetration Testing
There are three main types of penetration testing:
- Black Box Testing: This is the most common type of penetration testing. Testers dive in without any prior knowledge about the app or its infrastructure, just as an external malicious actor would. This is useful in understanding how an outsider would evaluate and breach your application.
- White Box Testing: In this method, testers don't go in blind. They first get a thorough understanding of how the application works, its infrastructure and have a lot of inside details that someone outside of the company may generally not have access to. This allows them to test for vulnerabilities unique to a particular setting or the target environment. It also proves useful in exposing how an insider could be the cause of a breach
- Grey Box Testing: Testers have limited knowledge of the app and its infrastructure. This is a mix of black box and white box testing.
It's important to note that penetration testing can be done by many different groups or individuals, so it doesn't have to always come from a professional consultant firm. If you are part of an organization and you know where security flaws could exist, then you can do penetration testing on your own using your IT security team. There are tools to help you with this in case you lack expert knowledge or don't have anyone skilled enough to perform manual penetration tests. However, we would recommend using tools in conjunction with manual testing and a skilled set of eyes.
Top Ten Penetration Testing Tools in 2022
Keeping the above factors in mind, it's time to check out some of the best penetration testing tools available in 2022.
- Astra Pentest: A penetration testing tool for performing vulnerability scans and security audits. It also offers cloud-based deployment and comes with an interactive dashboard so you can get real-time updates on your application's security.
- Metasploit Framework: A framework for creating and executing exploit code. It includes modules for vulnerability scanning, malware analysis, and penetration testing.
- Nmap: This is a network exploration and security auditing tool. It's used to identify hosts and services on a network, as well as vulnerabilities.
- Wireshark: A network protocol analyzer that allows you to capture and inspect data packets.
- Burp Suite: An integrated platform for performing security testing of web applications. It includes a range of tools for attacking and defending web applications.
- OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP): A penetration testing tool designed to help you find and fix vulnerabilities in your web applications.
- John the Ripper: A password cracking tool that can be used to crack passwords of various types.
- Sqlmap: A penetration testing tool for attacking and exploiting SQL injection vulnerabilities.
- Aircrack-ng: An 802.11 WEP and WPA/WPA cracking tool for Linux systems.
- BrowserStack: A browser virtualization service that allows you to test your web applications in various browsers and operating systems.
While this isn't an exhaustive list, it gives you a sense of the most popular penetration testing tools currently in use. As technology progresses, so will the methods and tools used to penetrate networks and applications.
Penetration testing is an important part of any organization's security strategy. It can help identify vulnerabilities and flaws in your systems before a malicious user does. We suggest trying out a few of these tools to discover which ones are ideal for your needs. However, keep in mind that relying on a single solution is rarely sufficient. It's always preferable to have the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced team of professionals when performing a penetration test.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ankit Pahuja is the Marketing Lead & Evangelist at Astra Security. Ever since his adulthood (literally, he was 20 years old), he began finding vulnerabilities in websites & network infrastructures. Starting his professional career as a software engineer at one of the unicorns enables him in bringing "engineering in marketing" to reality. Working actively in the cybersecurity space for more than 2 years makes him the perfect T-shaped marketing professional. Ankit is an avid speaker in the security space and has delivered various talks in top companies, early-age startups, and online events.
- Hakin9 is a monthly magazine dedicated to hacking and cybersecurity. In every edition, we try to focus on different approaches to show various techniques - defensive and offensive. This knowledge will help you understand how most popular attacks are performed and how to protect your data from them. Our tutorials, case studies and online courses will prepare you for the upcoming, potential threats in the cyber security world. We collaborate with many individuals and universities and public institutions, but also with companies such as Xento Systems, CATO Networks, EY, CIPHER Intelligence LAB, redBorder, TSG, and others.
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