There are several phases and categories of possible attacks in digital hacking, so it is advised to keep in mind that the hacking software mentioned below vary in function.
Here are the top 20 Ethical Hacking tools and software that are included in the list based on their ease of use and effect:
- Recon-ng | Footprinting and Reconnaissance
- Nmap | Scanning
- NetBIOS | Enumeration
- Nessus | Vulnerability Assessment
- L0phtCrack | System Hacking
- njRAT | Malware Threats
- Wireshark | Network Sniffing
- SET | Social Engineering | Phishing
- HOIC | Denial-of-service
- ZAP | Session Hijacking
- sqlmap | SQL Injection
- Aircrack-ng | WiFi Cracking
- Kiuwan | Code Security
- Netsparker | Hacking Web Applications
- Nikto | Hacking Web Servers
- Burp Suite | Web Vulnerability Scanning
- John the Ripper | Password Cracking
- Angry IP Scanner | Network Scanning
- Metasploit | Penetration Testing
- Ettercap | Network Sniffing
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Let’s begin with our list of top hacking tools and software available to use in 2021!
1. Recon-ng | Footprinting and Reconnaissance
Footprinting and reconnaissance is the first phase of any hacking routine. In this phase, the relevant information is gathered about the target network or system.
Recon-ng is a framework written in Python. This framework is equipped with all the relevant features, including independent modules, database interaction utilities, built-in convenience functions, interactive help menus, and command completion utilities. Hackers and Cybersecurity professionals use Recon-ng as a powerful tool for quick and efficient web-based reconnaissance.
The use of this free hacking tool is quite easy to learn and is very similar to the Metasploit framework. It is an open-source framework, and it is easy even for the newest of Python developers to contribute to the source code. There is also a comprehensive development guide for coders who want to add or improve the framework.
2. Nmap | Scanning
Scanning is the second phase of hacking, and it refers to mapping out the topology of the network, alongside getting relevant information about the specifications of the target systems and devices.
Network Mapper or Nmap is a free and open-source technology used to scan computer networks and is one of the most frequently used Ethical Hacking tools. The functionalities possible with Nmap include host discovery, service discovery, and operating system detection. Knowing IP related details, open ports and the operating system of a device is crucial to crafting a hack specifically for that device. These features can be implemented in scripts as well to allow advanced service detection or to generally speed up the process when you have access to the target network through an entry point.
Nmap is used by hackers to scope out the network for vulnerable entry points and get an idea about the hacks that are possible. It is also used by security professionals to detect the aforementioned vulnerabilities before a hacker can do so to stay one step ahead. Nmap is a frequently used tool to perform routine security scans to find out open ports that are susceptible to attacks and check if any secretive information about the devices is visible. Nmap can also be used to see if any unauthorized device is present on the network.
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3. NetBIOS | Enumeration
Not to be confused with network scanning, network enumeration refers to the process of gathering usernames and the information on the groups and services of computers linked to a network. In network enumeration, discovery protocols such as ICMP and SNMP are used to obtain relevant data, along with port scanning, to determine the function of a remote host.
To accomplish this, you can use NetBIOS. NetBIOS is a non-routable OSI Session Layer 5 Protocol or service, which allows applications on devices to be able to communicate with each other over a LAN (local area network). The NetBIOS service can be easily targeted as it is relatively simple to exploit, and it runs on Windows systems even when not in active use. NetBIOS enumeration allows hackers to read or write to a remote system (depending on how many shares there are) or initiate a denial-of-service (DoS) attack.
4. Nessus | Vulnerability Assessment
Vulnerability assessment is a routine procedure followed by Cybersecurity professionals to keep any vulnerabilities or exploits of a system or network in check. It is critical to do this because, often, due to update patches, software installations, or manual errors, new security vulnerabilities can be created on a day-to-day basis, making it easy for a hacker to be able to exploit them and get illegal access to the protected systems.
Trusted by organizations all around the world, Nessus is one of the most popular vulnerability assessment tools and Ethical Hacking software. With Nessus, Ethical Hackers can audit cloud infrastructures, perform basic network scans, authenticate hosts present on the network, perform malware scans, verify policy compliances, and detect ransomware, among many other functions.
The base version of Nessus is free to try out, but organizations can go and upgrade to the premium status as well to get access to more features and run more advanced scans.
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5. L0phtCrack | System Hacking
You will find password-protected systems on almost every organizational network. Having them is important to ensure that no unauthorized person gets access to the network. Sometimes, these passwords can be weak in nature and be easily cracked by third-party software.
L0phtCrack is one such utility that is used to deduce the password of the target system with the help of a plethora of algorithms, which include dictionary attacks, brute-force attacks, hybrid attacks, and rainbow tables. This hacking tool uses password hashes and matches different password combinations with them to reverse engineer the correct password. With this, security experts can find out if any accounts with weak passwords exist in their domain. Commonly used passwords like ‘123’, ‘password’, or ‘admin’ can be instantly cracked with a proper algorithm. If any password appears weak to the concerned authority, they can simply change the password or ask the operator of the vulnerable device to change it. This is incredibly important to prevent any operating system account breaches through networking or to block unauthorized personnel from physical access to a workstation.
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6. njRAT | Malware Threats
Software designed to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to a system is called malware. Malware can range from annoying adware to extremely dangerous trojans or ransomware. Trojans are applications that appear harmless in nature as they hide their malicious identity. These applications are usually embedded in files or innocent-looking software installation packs.
The njRAT tool is an example of a ‘Remote Access Trojan’ or RAT, and it is one of the most dangerous hacking apps. In this hack, the attacker or the sender of the Trojan gets remote access to the victim’s filesystem with a read/write access, task manager, webcam, and many more services. While creating RAT, you just have to specify your IP address in the network and make sure the required inbound and outbound ports are open.
7. Wireshark | Network Sniffing
Network sniffing or packet monitoring is important from an attacker’s perspective to carry out a successful sniffing attack, as well as from a security professional’s. In network monitoring, assessing the contents of the packets being transferred is the key to spy on the network or to detect suspicious packets within the network.
Wireshark is a free and open-source software used for packet analysis. Equipped with a convenient user interface, Wireshark is one of the easiest tools to use for network monitoring. Its color-coding features help users easily identify the nature of the packets being circulated.
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8. SET | Social Engineering | Phishing
Social engineering is the process of obtaining information, data, or login credentials of an individual or organization through software technologies. The methods in the process usually involve psychologically manipulating or tricking people into divulging confidential information.
In hacking programs, SET or the Social Engineering Toolkit is a collection of tools and utilities to perform the activities that come under social engineering. For instance, SET provides a phishing utility among its several other options. Phishing involves tricking an individual to log in to a dummy website by entering credentials in a plain text format, without encryption. Once the attacker gets access to the login ID and password, the victim is redirected to the actual website to avoid any suspicion. This attack is especially dangerous in the case of banking websites, secure data repositories, or private social media accounts.
9. HOIC | Denial-of-service
Denial-of-service is a category of cyberattacks where the target website is clogged with so many requests simultaneously that the server becomes overloaded. Due to this heavy load, the server’s resources become inadequate and cause the server performance to drastically slow down or virtually come to a halt. For instance, if this happens to an e-commerce site, the DoS attack will prevent users from being able to log in or conduct business with the site. Since this inconvenient slow down or stoppage of services due to crashing or reboot is equivalent to users getting a ‘denial’ of the service, this particular attack is called the denial-of-service attack.
HOIC is short for the High Orbit Ion Cannon, which is an open-source network stress testing or denial-of-service application. It can perform attacks on up to 256 URLs at the same time. Upon a click of a button through its GUI, this application floods the target system with HTTP POST and GET requests.
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10. ZAP | Session Hijacking
Session hijacking is an act of stealing or assuming somebody else’s online session, for yourself, through unauthorized means. For example, whenever somebody logs into their bank account online, session tokens and keys are generated for that particular session. If an attacker gets access to those unique session authenticators, he/she may gain access to the bank account as well, effectively ‘hijacking’ the victim’s online session.
OWASP ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy) is an open-source web application security scanner used to test whether the web applications that have been deployed or have to be deployed are secure or not. It is a very popular penetration testing tool in the security industry. It can act as a proxy server with the ability to manipulate all traffic, which passes through it. It has built-in features that include AJAX/traditional web crawler, alongside automated scanner, passive scanner, and utilities for Fuzzer, forced browsing, WebSocket support, scripting languages, and Plug-n-Hack support.
11. sqlmap | SQL Injection
SQL injection is the process of manipulating the SQL database of a web application into revealing or altering its values. This is partly possible because to extract values from SQL databases, you have to run queries on tables. If there are no countermeasures enacted against this, it becomes quite easy for the attacker to be able to inject malicious queries into your database.
The sqlmap is one such tool that helps in performing SQL injection attacks. It is an open-source penetration testing tool, which is used to detect the presence of vulnerabilities to SQL injection attacks. It also has support for a vast array of SQL-based databases. It supports deconstructing password hashes through dictionary attacks.
12. Aircrack-ng | WiFi Cracking
WiFi networks are usually secured with passwords. This is to ensure that no unknown device is able to connect to the network without entering the correct key phrase. These passwords are encrypted using various algorithms, such as WPA, WPA-2, and WEP.
Among the WiFi hacking tools, Aircrack-ng is a decryption software that aims to assess the network security of a WiFi network by evaluating the vulnerabilities of the passwords that are used to secure it. Passwords with low-to-medium complexity can easily be cracked via this software or Linux utility.
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13. Kiuwan | Code Security
Kiuwan is among the most used Ethical Hacking tools in software development. This top hacking software finds out the security vulnerabilities in an application’s source code before its deployment, or during the updating phase. Upon finding the parts of the code that could potentially make the software unsecure in practice, the development team can patch it up after finding out the workarounds or alternatives to it.
14. Netsparker | Hacking Web Applications
Netsparker detects security flaws in web applications and APIs, such as SQL injection vulnerabilities and cross-site scripting. The main advantage of Netsparker is that it is 100 percent accurate with its results, eliminating the chances of false positives. During security assessments, this helps a tester avoid manually testing cases to verify whether those flaws actually exist or not.
15. Nikto | Hacking Web Servers
Nikto is an open-source tool that is used to scan web servers to detect vulnerabilities. It detects dangerous files, outdated server components, etc. and has full HTTP proxy support. It is primarily used as a penetration testing tool.
16. Burp Suite | Web Vulnerability Scanning
Burp Suite is an advanced web vulnerability scanner with three versions, Community (free), Enterprise, and Professional. You only get access to the manual tools with the Community edition, but with the paid versions, you get access to a higher number of features.
17. John the Ripper | Password Cracking
John the Ripper is one of the best password cracking utilities in the market. It gives you tonnes of customization options according to the approach that you want to go with for the cracking job. The primary job of John the Ripper is to test the strength of an encrypted password. Its main advantage is the speed at which it can crack passwords.
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18. Angry IP Scanner | Network Scanning
Angry IP Scanner is another tool quite similar to Nmap, which is used for detecting open ports and IPs within a particular range. Like Nmap, it is also supported on multiple operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and Mac.
19. Metasploit | Penetration Testing
The Metasploit framework provides you with a remote machine on which you can test your scripts and hacks to verify their success and strength. The framework gives hackers an idea of how to alter or upgrade the hacking software to ensure execution. It helps them understand the security vulnerabilities of various systems (due to cross-platform support). This framework is highly favored in the development of security tools and utilities.
20. Ettercap | Network Sniffing
With the Ettercap API, custom plugins can easily be created, which can be installed onto target systems to sniff on SSL-secured HTTP activities. Ettercap has cross-platform support, so the operating systems of the target systems are not a factor in the sniffing process. As a Network Administrator, these plugins can also be used to ensure content filtering and network/host analysis.
Hope you enjoyed reading our blog on the best Hacking Tools and Software and it gave you many valuable insights on various tools and programs. To get hands-on experience on top Ethical hacking tools you can enrol for our Ethical Hacking Course now.