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 94 next page →

(20) ★★★★★ Wireshark (#1, 1)

Wireshark (known as Ethereal until a trademark dispute in Summer 2006) is a fantastic open source multi-platform network protocol analyzer. It allows you to examine data from a live network or from a capture file on disk. You can interactively browse the capture data, delving down into just the level of packet detail you need. Wireshark has several powerful features, including a rich display filter language and the ability to view the reconstructed stream of a TCP session. It also supports hundreds of protocols and media types. A tcpdump-like console version named tshark is included. One word of caution is that Wireshark has suffered from dozens of remotely exploitable security holes, so stay up-to-date and be wary of running it on untrusted or hostile networks (such as security conferences). Read 31 reviews.

Latest release: version 1.12.7 on Aug. 12, 2015 (6 years, 10 months ago).

(10) ★★★★½ Aircrack (#4, 17)

Aircrack is a suite of tools for 802.11a/b/g WEP and WPA cracking. It implements the best known cracking algorithms to recover wireless keys once enough encrypted packets have been gathered. . The suite comprises over a dozen discrete tools, including airodump (an 802.11 packet capture program), aireplay (an 802.11 packet injection program), aircrack (static WEP and WPA-PSK cracking), and airdecap (decrypts WEP/WPA capture files). Read 15 reviews.

Latest release: version 1.1 on April 24, 2010 (12 years, 2 months ago).

(6) ★★★½ Cain and Abel (#6, 3)

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 (8 years, 2 months ago).

(17) ★★★★ BackTrack (#7, 25)

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 22 reviews.

Latest release: version 5 R3 on Aug. 13, 2012 (9 years, 10 months ago).

(10) ★★★★½ Netcat (#8, 4)

This simple utility reads and writes data across TCP or UDP network connections. It is designed to be a reliable back-end tool to use directly or easily drive by other programs and scripts. At the same time, it is a feature-rich network debugging and exploration tool, since it can create almost any kind of connection you would need, including port binding to accept incoming connections.

The original Netcat was released by Hobbit in 1995, but it hasn't been maintained despite its popularity. It can sometimes even be hard to find a copy of the v1.10 source code. The flexibility and usefulness of this tool prompted the Nmap Project to produce Ncat, a modern reimplementation which supports SSL, IPv6, SOCKS and http proxies, connection brokering, and more. Other takes on this classic tool include the amazingly versatile Socat, OpenBSD's nc, Cryptcat, Netcat6, pnetcat, SBD, and so-called GNU Netcat. Read 13 reviews.

Latest release: version 1.10 on March 20, 1996 (26 years, 3 months ago).

(2) ★★★★½ tcpdump (#9, 1)

Tcpdump is the network sniffer we all used before (Wireshark) came on the scene, and many of us continue to use it frequently. It may not have the bells and whistles (such as a pretty GUI and parsing logic for hundreds of application protocols) that Wireshark has, but it does the job well and with less security risk. It also requires fewer system resources. While Tcpdump doesn't receive new features often, it is actively maintained to fix bugs and portability problems. It is great for tracking down network problems or monitoring activity. There is a separate Windows port named WinDump. tcpdump is the source of the Libpcap/WinPcap packet capture library, which is used by Nmap and many other tools. Read 3 reviews.

Latest release: version 4.7.4 on April 22, 2015 (7 years, 2 months ago).

(2) ★★★★★ Kismet (#11, 4)

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 2 reviews.

Latest release: version Kismet-2013-03-R1b on April 8, 2013 (9 years, 2 months ago).

(2) ★★★★★ OpenSSH/PuTTY/SSH (#12, 2)

SSH (Secure Shell) is the now ubiquitous program for logging into or executing commands on a remote machine. It provides secure encrypted communications between two untrusted hosts over an insecure network, replacing the hideously insecure telnet/rlogin/rsh alternatives. Most UNIX users run the open source OpenSSH server and client. Windows users often prefer the free PuTTY client, which is also available for many mobile devices, and WinSCP. Other Windows users prefer the nice terminal-based port of OpenSSH that comes with Cygwin. There are dozens of other free and proprietary clients to consider as well. Read 2 reviews.

(10) ★★★★½ Nikto (#14, 2)

Nikto is an Open Source (GPL) web server scanner which performs comprehensive tests against web servers for multiple items, including over 6400 potentially dangerous files/CGIs, checks for outdated versions of over 1200 servers, and version specific problems on over 270 servers. It also checks for server configuration items such as the presence of multiple index files, HTTP server options, and will attempt to identify installed web servers and software. Scan items and plugins are frequently updated and can be automatically updated. Read 15 reviews.

Latest release: version 2.1.4 on Feb. 20, 2011 (11 years, 4 months ago).

(3) ★★★★★ Hping (#15, 9)

This handy little utility assembles and sends custom ICMP, UDP, or TCP packets and then displays any replies. It was inspired by the ping command, but offers far more control over the probes sent. It also has a handy traceroute mode and supports IP fragmentation. Hping is particularly useful when trying to traceroute/ping/probe hosts behind a firewall that blocks attempts using the standard utilities. This often allows you to map out firewall rule sets. It is also great for learning more about TCP/IP and experimenting with IP protocols. Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated since 2005. The Nmap Project created and maintains Nping, a similar program with more modern features such as IPv6 support, and a unique echo mode. Read 4 reviews.

Latest release: version hping3-20051105 on Nov. 5, 2005 (16 years, 8 months ago).

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