We're very impressed by the collective smarts of the security community and we highly recommend reading the whole list and investigating any tools you are unfamiliar with. Click any tool name for more details on that particular application, including the chance to read (and write) reviews. Many site elements are explained by tool tips if you hover your mouse over them. Enjoy!
KeePass is a password manager. It stores many passwords which are unlocked by one master password. The idea is to only have to remember one high-quality password, and still be able to use unique passwords for various accounts. It has a feature to automatically fill in passwords in web forms.
Read 5 reviews.
Latest release: version 1.29 on April 3, 2015 (3 years, 3 months ago).
OpenVAS is a vulnerability scanner that was forked from the last free version of Nessus after that tool went proprietary in 2005. OpenVAS plugins are still written in the Nessus NASL language. The project seemed dead for a while, but development has restarted.
Read 36 reviews.
Latest release: version 8.0 on April 2, 2015 (3 years, 3 months ago).
EnCase is a suite of computer forensics software, commonly used by law enforcement. Its wide use has made it a de-facto standard in forensics. It is made to collect data from a computer in a forensically sound manner (employing checksums to help detect tampering).
Read 2 reviews.
Latest release: version 7.10.05 on March 18, 2015 (3 years, 4 months ago).
Nessus is one of the most popular and capable vulnerability scanners, particularly for UNIX systems. It was initially free and open source, but they closed the source code in 2005 and removed the free "Registered Feed" version in 2008. It now costs $2,190 per year, which still beats many of its competitors. A free “Nessus Home” version is also available, though it is limited and only licensed for home network use.
Nessus is constantly updated, with more than 70,000 plugins. Key features include remote and local (authenticated) security checks, a client/server architecture with a web-based interface, and an embedded scripting language for writing your own plugins or understanding the existing ones.
Read 20 reviews.
Latest release: version 6.3.3 on March 16, 2015 (3 years, 4 months ago).
Ettercap is a suite for man in the middle attacks on LAN. It features sniffing of live connections, content filtering on the fly and many other interesting tricks.
It supports active and passive dissection of many protocols (even ciphered ones) and includes many feature for network and host analysis.
Read 10 reviews.
Latest release: version 0.8.2-Ferri on March 14, 2015 (3 years, 4 months ago).
inSSIDer is a wireless network scanner for Windows, OS X, and Android. It was designed to overcome limitations of NetStumbler, namely not working well on 64-bit Windows and Windows Vista. inSSIDer can find open wireless access points, track signal strength over time, and save logs with GPS records.
Read 11 reviews.
Latest release: version 4.1.0 on Jan. 22, 2015 (3 years, 5 months ago).
Metasploit took the security world by storm when it was released in 2004. It is an advanced open-source platform for developing, testing, and using exploit code. The extensible model through which payloads, encoders, no-op generators, and exploits can be integrated has made it possible to use the Metasploit Framework as an outlet for cutting-edge exploitation research. It ships with hundreds of exploits, as you can see in their list of modules. This makes writing your own exploits easier, and it certainly beats scouring the darkest corners of the Internet for illicit shellcode of dubious quality. One free extra is Metasploitable, an intentionally insecure Linux virtual machine you can use for testing Metasploit and other exploitation tools without hitting live servers.
Metasploit was completely free, but the project was acquired by Rapid7 in 2009 and it soon sprouted commercial variants. The Framework itself is still free and open source, but they now also offer a free-but-limited Community edition, a more advanced Express edition ($5,000 per year per user), and a full-featured Pro edition. Other paid exploitation tools to consider are Core Impact (more expensive) and Canvas (less).
Nagios is a system and network monitoring application. It watches hosts and services that you specify, alerting you when things go bad and when they get better. Some of its many features include monitoring of network services (SMTP, POP3, HTTP, NNTP, ICMP, etc.), monitoring of host resources (processor load, disk usage, etc.), and contact notifications when service or host problems occur and get resolved (via email, pager, or user-defined method).
Read 8 reviews.
Latest release: version 4.0.8 on Aug. 12, 2014 (3 years, 11 months ago).
The authors of TrueCrypt abandoned the project in May 2014. While many still use the software, there are several forks and alternatives that are striving to take its lofty place.
TrueCrypt is an excellent open source disk encryption system for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. Users can encrypt entire filesystems, which are then on-the-fly encrypted/decrypted as needed without user intervention beyond initially entering their passphrase. A clever hidden volume feature allows you to hide a second layer of particularly sensitive content with plausible deniability about whether it even exists. Then if you are forced to give up your passphrase, you give them the first-level secret. That only allows them access to the innocuous material you have there, without proving that a second level key even exists.
Read 5 reviews.
Latest release: version 7.2 on May 28, 2014 (4 years, 1 month ago).
BeEF is a browser exploitation framework. This tool will demonstrate the collecting of zombie browsers and browser vulnerabilities in real-time. It provides a command and control interface which facilitates the targeting of individual or groups of zombie browsers. It is designed to make the creation of new exploit modules easy.
Read 4 reviews.
Latest release: version 0.4.5.0 on April 25, 2014 (4 years, 2 months ago).
UNIX users often smugly assert that the best free security tools support their platform first, and Windows ports are often an afterthought. They are usually right, but Cain & Abel is a glaring exception. This Windows-only password recovery tool handles an enormous variety of tasks. It can recover passwords by sniffing the network, cracking encrypted passwords using dictionary, brute-force and cryptanalysis attacks, recording VoIP conversations, decoding scrambled passwords, revealing password boxes, uncovering cached passwords and analyzing routing protocols. It is also well documented.
Read 17 reviews.
Latest release: version 4.9.56 on April 7, 2014 (4 years, 3 months ago).
Sguil (pronounced sgweel) is built by network security analysts for network security analysts. Sguil's main component is an intuitive GUI that provides access to realtime events, session data, and raw packet captures. Sguil facilitates the practice of Network Security Monitoring and event driven analysis.
Read 1 review.
Latest release: version 0.9.0 on March 28, 2014 (4 years, 3 months ago).
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) is an easy-to-use tool designed for the IT professional that helps small and medium-sized businesses determine their security state in accordance with Microsoft security recommendations and offers specific remediation guidance. Built on the Windows Update Agent and Microsoft Update infrastructure, MBSA ensures consistency with other Microsoft management products including Microsoft Update (MU), Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Systems Management Server (SMS) and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM). Apparently MBSA on average scans over 3 million computers each week.
Read 3 reviews.
Latest release: version 2.3 on Nov. 12, 2013 (4 years, 8 months ago).
OllyDbg is a 32-bit assembler level analyzing debugger for Microsoft Windows. Emphasis on binary code analysis makes it particularly useful in cases where source is unavailable. OllyDbg features an intuitive user interface, advanced code analysis capable of recognizing procedures, loops, API calls, switches, tables, constants and strings, an ability to attach to a running program, and good multi-thread support. OllyDbg is free to download and use but no source code is provided.
Read 2 reviews.
Latest release: version 2.01 on Sept. 27, 2013 (4 years, 9 months ago).
Knoppix consists of a representative collection of GNU/Linux software, automatic hardware detection, and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices and other peripherals. Knoppix can be used as a productive Linux system for the desktop, educational CD, rescue system, or as many Nmap survey takers attest, a portable security tool. For a security-specific Linux distribution see BackTrack.
Review this tool.
Latest release: version 7.2.0 on June 24, 2013 (5 years ago).
Ophcrack is a free rainbow-table based cracker for Windows passwords (though the tool itself runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac). Features include LM and NTLM hash cracking, a GUI, the ability to load hashes from encrypted SAM recovered from a Windows partition, and a Live CD version. Some tables are provided as a free download but larger ones have to be bought from Objectif Sécurité.
Read 10 reviews.
Latest release: version 3.6.0 on June 4, 2013 (5 years, 1 month ago).
John the Ripper is a fast password cracker for UNIX/Linux and Mac OS X.. Its primary purpose is to detect weak Unix passwords, though it supports hashes for many other platforms as well. There is an official free version, a community-enhanced version (with many contributed patches but not as much quality assurance), and an inexpensive pro version. You will probably want to start with some wordlists, which you can find here, here, or here.
Read 13 reviews.
Latest release: version 1.8.0 on May 30, 2013 (5 years, 1 month ago).
HijackThis inspects a computer’s browser and operating system settings to generate a log file of its current state. It can selectively remove unwanted settings and files. Its main focus is on web browser hijacking. It is a freeware utility originally written by Merijn Bellekom but now distributed by Trend Micro.
Read 2 reviews.
Latest release: version 2.0.5 on May 18, 2013 (5 years, 1 month ago).
Featuring link layer, IP, and TCP modes, EtherApe displays network activity graphically with a color coded protocols display. Hosts and links change in size with traffic. It supports Ethernet, WLAN, FDDI, Token Ring, ISDN, PPP and SLIP devices. It can filter traffic to be shown, and can read traffic from a file as well as live from the network.
Read 1 review.
Latest release: version 0.9.13 on May 5, 2013 (5 years, 2 months ago).
Kismet is a console (ncurses) based 802.11 layer-2 wireless network detector, sniffer, and intrusion detection system. It identifies networks by passively sniffing (as opposed to more active tools such as NetStumbler), and can even decloak hidden (non-beaconing) networks if they are in use. It can automatically detect network IP blocks by sniffing TCP, UDP, ARP, and DHCP packets, log traffic in Wireshark/tcpdump compatible format, and even plot detected networks and estimated ranges on downloaded maps. As you might expect, this tool is commonly used for wardriving. Oh, and also warwalking, warflying, and warskating, etc.
Read 1 review.
Latest release: version Kismet-2013-03-R1b on April 8, 2013 (5 years, 3 months ago).
Argus is a fixed-model Real Time Flow Monitor designed to track and report on the status and performance of all network transactions seen in a data network traffic stream. Argus provides a common data format for reporting flow metrics such as connectivity, capacity, demand, loss, delay, and jitter on a per transaction basis. The record format that Argus uses is flexible and extensible, supporting generic flow identifiers and metrics, as well as application/protocol specific information.
There is also another open source network monitoring program named Argus.
Read 2 reviews.
Latest release: version 3.7 on Feb. 1, 2013 (5 years, 5 months ago).
skipfish is an active web application security reconnaissance tool. It prepares an interactive sitemap for the targeted site by carrying out a recursive crawl and dictionary-based probes. The resulting map is then annotated with the output from a number of active (but hopefully non-disruptive) security checks. The final report generated by the tool is meant to serve as a foundation for professional web application security assessments.
Read 2 reviews.
Latest release: version 2.10b on Dec. 4, 2012 (5 years, 7 months ago).
The Sleuth Kit (previously known as TSK) is a collection of UNIX-based command line file and volume system forensic analysis tools. The file system tools allow you to examine file systems of a suspect computer in a non-intrusive fashion. Because the tools do not rely on the operating system to process the file systems, deleted and hidden content is shown. A graphical interface to the tools called Autopsy is available.
Read 2 reviews.
Latest release: version 4.0.1 on Nov. 13, 2012 (5 years, 8 months ago).
This excellent bootable live CD Linux distribution comes from the merger of Whax and Auditor. It boasts a huge variety of Security and Forensics tools and provides a rich development environment. User modularity is emphasized so the distribution can be easily customized by the user to include personal scripts, additional tools, customized kernels, etc. BackTrack is succeeded by Kali Linux.
Read 21 reviews.
Latest release: version 5 R3 on Aug. 13, 2012 (5 years, 11 months ago).
SAINT is a commercial vulnerability assessment tool. Like Nessus, it used to be free and open source but is now a commercial product. Unlike Nexpose, and QualysGuard, SAINT runs on Linux and Mac OS X. In fact, SAINT is one of the few scanner vendors that don't support (run on) Windows at all.
Read 6 reviews.
Latest release: version 7.13 on May 18, 2012 (6 years, 1 month ago).