Last time we talked about what ethical hacking is, what are its key concepts and what are the benefits it can bring into your company. You can check out the article here to get a better hold on the subject, because today we will dive a little deeper. In this article, we will go through what are some of the most popular ethical hacking tools, but first…

What Are Ethical Hacking Tools?

Hacking tools and software are just computer programs or complex types of scripts designed by developers and used by security professionals to identify weaknesses in a machine’s OS, web applications, servers and networks. Many businesses nowadays rely on such ethical hacking tools to better secure their data from various attackers.

Security experts employ hacking tools like packet sniffers, password crackers, port scanners, etc. to eavesdrop on network traffic, crack passwords, find open ports on machines, etc. Although there are many different hacking tools on the market, always bear in mind what they should be used for.

Ethical hacking tools can be either open-source or can be available in commercial solutions, and in this article, I will be covering both of them.

Most Popular Ethical Hacking Tools

Nmap (Network Mapper)

Nmap is essentially a network security mapper that can find hosts and services on a network to build a network map. This software provides a number of capabilities that aid in host finding, OS system detection, and network probing. Due to the script’s ability to be extended, it offers sophisticated vulnerability detection and can adjust its scanning to network conditions like latency and congestion.

Nmap is developed to work for different types of operating systems such as Windows, Linux, or Unix.

Key Features:

  • It’s a flexible solution that supports dozens of advanced techniques for mapping out networks filled with IP filters, firewalls, and routers;
  • It is a highly capable solution that has the capacity to scan thousands of machines;
  • It’s available for free;
  • Supports most operating systems, such as Linux, Windows, Mac OS, Sun OS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, IRIX, HP-UX, NetBSD, Amiga, and others;


Acunetix is an automated tool used by ethical hackers to block hostile attackers from gaining unauthorized access. JavaScript, HTML5, and single-page applications can all be scanned by it as a security scanner. It can shield web applications from several network flaws.

Key Features:

  • It can scan more than 4000 types of vulnerabilities including SQL Injection, XSS, and others;
  • Available as an on-premises or cloud-based solution;
  • It’s capable of detecting WordPress theme, core, and plugin vulnerabilities;
  • It can integrate with issue trackers and resolve issues in SDLC;
  • HTML5 Support.


Formerly known as Netsparker, Invicti is a web-based application security scanner hacking tool capable of finding SQL injections, XSS, vulnerabilities in web applications, and others completely automated.

Key Features:

  • It requires minimal configurations;
  • It can scan over 1,000 web apps within just 24 hours;
  • Automatic detection of URL rewrite rules and custom 404 error pages;
  • With the aid of special Proof-Based Scanning Technologies, it finds vulnerabilities with Remarkable accuracy.

Burp Suite

Burp Suite is an essential component in the arsenal of any ethical hacker. Regarded as a reliable tool for assessing website security, it’s a proxy tool capable of intercepting requests and responses between a user’s browser and the targeted website, and it also provides visibility into the website’s functionality. This gives ethical hackers the ability to alter those requests to exploit security flaws on the website or access restricted sections.

The solution is available in three variants: a free version, a Pro version, and an Enterprise edition.

Key Features:

  • Fully automatic dynamic scanning with simple point-and-click;
  • Out-of-the-box scan configurations;
  • Role-based access control and single sign-on;
  • CI integration;
  • Over 250 extensions for customized testing workflows.


Nikto is a free open-source web scanner that checks and tests a number of web servers to find outdated software, potentially harmful CGIs or files, and other issues. By capturing the received cookies, it can carry out server-specific as well as generic checks and printing. It is a free, open-source application that detects default programs and files and looks for version-specific issues across 270 servers.

Key Features:

  • Capable of identifying over 6,000 CGIs or potentially dangerous files across web servers;
  • It can check servers and detect outdated versions or version-specific problems;
  • Full HTTP proxy support.


Wireshark is a network protocol analyzer that lets you see what’s happening on your network at a microscopic level. It is cross-platform compatible. You can export the results in a variety of file types, including XML, PostScript, CSV, and Plaintext. It offers the capability of applying coloring guidelines to packet lists to make analysis simpler and faster.

Key Features:

  • Live capture and offline analysis;
  • It can decompress gzip files on the fly;
  • Is able to decrypt protocols such as SSL/TLS, IPsec, and more;
  • It allows you to browse the captured network data by using GUI or TTY-mode TShark utility.


One of the most popular tools around is Kismet. Kismet is an open-source solution that works as a network detector, packet sniffer, and intrusion detection system for 802.11 wireless LANs. Any wireless card that supports the raw monitoring mode and can sniff 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n traffic will be compatible with Kismet. Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Mac OS X are all supported by the program. The client can function on Windows as well.

Key Features:

  • Can be used on different types of operating systems;
  • Supports raw-monitoring mode;
  • With the aid of data traffic, it passively recognizes networks, gathers packets, and finds non-beaconing and hidden networks.


Intruder is an automated scanner that searchers machines for weaknesses, explains the risks found, and helps with their remediation.

Key Features:

  • It integrates with Jira, Slack, and major cloud providers;
  • Prioritizes results based on context;
  • Identifies misconfigurations, missing patches, and common issues with web apps such as SQL injections or cross-site scripting.

John the Ripper

Another open-source tool, John the Ripper is one of the most popular password crackers for all time, and also one of the best tools available for testing password strengths in your OS or for auditing one remotely. The tool is able to auto-detect the type of encryption used in almost any password and will adjust its password test method accordingly.

By using brute force technology, John the Ripper can decipher passwords and algorithms such as DES, MD5, Blowfish, Kerberos AFS, Hash LM, and others.

Key Features:

  • Identifies different encryption types used and adjusts its testing algorithm accordingly;
  • Is able to perform dictionary attacks;
  • It offers a customizable cracker and several password crackers in one bundle.


Mimikatz is an open-source credential-dumping app capable of extracting accounts’ username and password information usually in the shape of a hash or a plain text password. Users can read and store authentication information, such as Kerberos tickets, which can then be used to perform lateral movement and access restricted data.

Mimikatz is a great post-exploitation tool that attempts to bundle together some of the most useful tasks attackers will likely want to perform. For a more in-depth dive on Mimikatz you can check out this article.

Key Features:

  • It can extract passwords and credentials;
  • It can bypass authentication mechanisms such as multi-factor authentication (MFA);
  • It can be used to perform lateral movements within a network to access restricted data;
  • It can be used to escalate privileges on a system.

How Can Heimdal® Help Your Company?

It is always better to prevent than to treat, and reports are showing that 80% of cyberattacks can be attributed to poor patching practices, that leave your company’s systems exposed to threat actors.

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Wrapping Up

In conclusion, ethical hacking tools play a crucial role in identifying vulnerabilities and strengthening the security of computer systems and networks. These tools enable security professionals to simulate real-world attacks and test the effectiveness of security measures.

However, it’s important to use these tools responsibly and ethically, with the permission of the system owner. In the wrong hands, these tools can be used for malicious purposes and cause significant harm. By using ethical hacking tools in a responsible and professional manner, security professionals can help organizations to identify and address potential security issues, ultimately making computer systems and networks more secure.

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What Is Ethical Hacking? An Introduction to the Concept

What is Mimikatz? What can it do and how to protect

What Is RBAC? Role-Based Access Control Definition, Benefits, Best Practices, and Examples

What Is A Packet Sniffer and How Does It Work?


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