SecTools.Org: Top 125 Network Security Tools

For more than a decade, the Nmap Project has been cataloguing the network security community's favorite tools. In 2011 this site became much more dynamic, offering ratings, reviews, searching, sorting, and a new tool suggestion form. This site allows open source and commercial tools on any platform, except those tools that we maintain (such as the Nmap Security Scanner, Ncat network connector, and Nping packet manipulator).

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!

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Tools 1–10 of 31 next page →

(9) ★★★★½ Metasploit (#2, 3)

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).

The Metasploit Framework now includes an official Java-based GUI and also Raphael Mudge's excellent Armitage. The Community, Express, and Pro editions have web-based GUIs. Read 15 reviews.

Latest release: version 4.11 on Dec. 18, 2014 (7 years, 11 months ago).

(14) ★★★ Nessus (#3, 2)

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 (7 years, 8 months ago).

(2) ★★★★★ Snort (#5, 2)

This network intrusion detection and prevention system excels at traffic analysis and packet logging on IP networks. Through protocol analysis, content searching, and various pre-processors, Snort detects thousands of worms, vulnerability exploit attempts, port scans, and other suspicious behavior. Snort uses a flexible rule-based language to describe traffic that it should collect or pass, and a modular detection engine. Also check out the free Basic Analysis and Security Engine (BASE), a web interface for analyzing Snort alerts.

While Snort itself is free and open source, parent company SourceFire offers their VRT-certified rules for $499 per sensor per year and a complementary product line of software and appliances with more enterprise-level features. Sourcefire also offers a free 30-day delayed feed. Read 2 reviews.

Latest release: version 2.9.7.5 on July 23, 2015 (7 years, 4 months ago).

(3) ★★★★★ John the Ripper (#10, unchanged)

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 7 reviews.

Latest release: version 1.8.0 on May 30, 2013 (9 years, 6 months ago).

(19) ★★★★½ Burp Suite (#13, 63)

Burp Suite is an integrated platform for attacking web applications. It contains a variety of tools with numerous interfaces between them designed to facilitate and speed up the process of attacking an application. All of the tools share the same framework for handling and displaying HTTP messages, persistence, authentication, proxies, logging, alerting and extensibility. There is a limited free version and also Burp Suite Professional ($299 per user per year). Read 22 reviews.

Latest release: version 1.4.01 on June 3, 2011 (11 years, 6 months ago).

(7) ★★★★½ Core Impact (#29, 15)

Core Impact isn't cheap (be prepared to spend at least $30,000), but it is widely considered to be the most powerful exploitation tool available. It sports a large, regularly updated database of professional exploits, and can do neat tricks like exploiting one machine and then establishing an encrypted tunnel through that machine to reach and exploit other boxes. Other good options include Metasploit and Canvas. Read 11 reviews.

Latest release: version 12 on Aug. 8, 2011 (11 years, 3 months ago).

no rating IDA Pro (#33, 12)

Disassembly is a big part of security research. It will help you dissect that Microsoft patch to discover the silently fixed bugs they don't tell you about, or more closely examine a server binary to determine why your exploit isn't working. Many debuggers are available, but IDA Pro has become the de-facto standard for the analysis of hostile code and vulnerability research. This interactive, programmable, extensible, multi-processor disassembler has a graphical interface on Windows and console interfaces on Linux and Mac OS X. Review this tool.

Latest release: version 6.8 on April 13, 2015 (7 years, 7 months ago).

(1) ★★★★ Maltego (#34, new!)

Maltego is a forensics and data mining application. It is capable of querying various public data sources and graphically depicting the relationships between entities such as people, companies, web sites, and documents. Maltego is an open source intelligence too, but isn't open source software. Read 1 review.

Latest release: version 3.0.3 on Jan. 17, 2011 (11 years, 10 months ago).

(14) ★★½ Nexpose (#36, new!)

Rapid7 Nexpose is a vulnerability scanner which aims to support the entire vulnerability management lifecycle, including discovery, detection, verification, risk classification, impact analysis, reporting and mitigation. It integrates with Rapid7's Metasploit for vulnerability exploitation. It is sold as standalone software, an appliance, virtual machine, or as a managed service or private cloud deployment. User interaction is through a web browser. There is a free but limited community edition as well as commercial versions which start at $2,000 per user per year. Read 16 reviews.

(6) ★★★½ GFI LanGuard (#40, 20)

GFI LanGuard is a network security and vulnerability scanner designed to help with patch management, network and software audits, and vulnerability assessments. The price is based on the number of IP addresses you wish to scan. A free trial version (up to 5 IP addresses) is available. Read 6 reviews.

Latest release: version 2011 on May 19, 2001 (21 years, 6 months ago).

Tools 1–10 of 31 next page →

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