11 Open Source Automated Penetration Testing Tools

11 Open Source Automated Penetration Testing Tools

No matter how many of the latest security products are deployed in an IT environment, you need to know that they work as expected and effectively detect and stop cyber attacks.

This is why penetration testing remains such an important aspect of any cybersecurity strategy. Penetration testing enables security teams to test security controls, expose gaps in defenses, and identify exploitable vulnerabilities in networks, applications, and IoT devices.

Once a test is complete, security teams can take preventative action before bad actors discover vulnerabilities. Penetration testing is also important because it is required by various industry standards and regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and System and Organization Controls 2.

However, penetration testing can be a laborious task. Many security teams don’t have the time or staff to complete the work manually. Fortunately, security teams can use automated penetration testing tools to close the gap. But, with so many penetration testing tasks to perform and a variety of tools to choose from, getting the right set of tools can be challenging.

Penetration Test Attacks

Penetration testing teams should, at a minimum, perform the following attacks:

  • port scan performed during reconnaissance to learn details about running services and identify potential vulnerabilities on a device by sending packets to specific ports and analyzing the responses.
  • Network protocol analysis it is used during reconnaissance to collect information about network devices and network traffic.
  • Vulnerability Scan scans an environment for missing patches, vulnerable software versions, application vulnerabilities, and gaps in firewalls and other security controls.
  • Elaboration of packages it is used to check firewall rules and find possible entry points.
  • password cracking involves brute force password attempts to access remote services and privileged accounts.
  • Exploitation includes attempts to exploit identified security weaknesses to establish their severity or determine whether other controls render a vulnerability unexploitable.
  • review and report it involves gathering actionable information so that the security team can make informed decisions about how to improve the organization’s overall security posture.

No single penetration testing tool performs all of these tasks or fits all use cases. To complete a comprehensive penetration test and simulate the classic steps of an attack, reconnaissance, exploitation, privilege escalation, and command and control, a combination of tools is needed.

Open source automated penetration testing tools

A variety of simple and complex penetration testing tools are available that perform the aforementioned tasks. Many of them are open source, so any security team can use them to explore, attack, and report on their IT environment.

Note that some previously open source analysis tools, such as Metasploit and Burp Suite, are now commercial products. Although they still offer free versions, they have reduced functionality.

The following list of open source tools allows security teams to automate many of the above tasks and complete extensive testing. Most work on all major operating systems, but always check compatibility with the systems and databases your organization uses.


For recognition, nmap is the reference tool. It can quickly scan large networks and runs on all major operating systems. Report the following:

  • which hosts are available on the network;
  • what services are running;
  • what versions of the operating system they are running;
  • what type of packet filter and firewalls are in use; Y
  • other useful intelligence needed before launching an attack.

Although Nmap offers a wide range of advanced features, the basic commands are quite easy to learn. The documentation is comprehensive and there are many tutorials available covering the command line and GUI versions.

2. Wire Shark

wire shark is a popular network protocol analyzer that runs on all major operating systems. Live capture, decryption support, and offline analysis for each key network protocol is backed by comprehensive documentation and video tutorials.

3. Legion

Legion is an extensible and semi-automated network penetration testing tool. Documentation is sparse, but the GUI has context-sensitive menus and panels, making it easy to accomplish many tasks. Modular functionality makes it customizable and automatically links discovered CVEs with exploits in the exploit database.

4. Jok3r

Another framework for network infrastructure and web penetration testing is jok3r. It is a compilation of over 50 open source tools and scripts that can automatically run reconnaissance, CVE lookups, vulnerability scanning, and exploit attacks. The documentation is a work in progress, but its combination of modules makes it a powerful tool.

5. Zed Attack Proxy

by OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) scans web applications for vulnerabilities. Acting as an intermediary between the tester’s browser and the web application, it can intercept requests, modify content, and forward packets. It offers many features and plugins are freely available on the ZAP Marketplace. Versions are available for each major operating system as well as Docker.

6. Nikto2

nikto2 is a scanner that can identify the most common faults found in web servers. Run from the command line, it’s fast but not stealthy. The documentation isn’t particularly detailed yet, but it’s not hard to use.


the OpenSCAP The ecosystem is a collection of open source tools for implementing and enforcing the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP), a US standard maintained by NIST that focuses on continuous monitoring, vulnerability management, and policy enforcement. of security. The tools offer automated configuration, vulnerability and patch checking, and ongoing assessment of the infrastructure for security compliance. Each tool is accompanied by full documentation and guidance.

8. sql map

SQL injection is a common attack vector against data-driven web applications that accept dynamic user-supplied values, so a tool like sql map – which can automate the process of detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws – is a must. It runs on Windows and Linux/Unix systems and has useful examples in its extensive documentation. It supports multiple types of databases and includes penetration testing features such as password cracking, user privilege escalation, and arbitrary command execution.

9. Disgusting

frightening is a package builder program that has particularly good documentation. In-depth knowledge of protocol packet structures and network layers is required to take full advantage of the tool. It can spoof or decode a large number of protocol packets and can easily handle tasks like scanning, routing trace, polling, unit testing, attacking, and network discovery.

10. Crack Station

There are quite a few free password crackers available, but crack station is one of the fastest as it uses pre-computed lookup tables consisting of over 15 billion entries pulled from various online resources.

11. Aircrack-ng

aircrack-ng is a complete set of tools for performing penetration tests on Wi-Fi networks. It can monitor, attack, crack, and test Wi-Fi cards, drivers, and protocols.

How to select the right automated penetration testing tools

To choose between tools, rate each tool’s score on the following six points:

  1. ease of implementation;
  2. level of automation;
  3. configurability to disable false positives;
  4. compatibility with existing security tools;
  5. clarity and completeness of results and reports; Y
  6. good support and technical documentation.

Whatever tool or tools are chosen, make sure they are still actively supported. It’s also important to run more than just your basic commands and scans. While automating penetration tests can ensure that large networks are examined for low-hanging fruit, testers must be creative, like a hacker, and try different approaches to accessing networks, installing malware and steal data. However, the most important thing is to act on any findings that show vulnerabilities within the system and mitigate them as soon as possible.

For those security teams that lack penetration testing skills, the “Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual” is a good place to start. It is a comprehensive methodology for security and penetration testing, security analysis, and operational security measurement.

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