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 81 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).

(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, 6 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, 3 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).

(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, 1 month ago).

(5) ★★★★★ Ettercap (#16, 5)

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 8 reviews.

Latest release: version 0.8.2-Ferri on March 14, 2015 (7 years, 3 months ago).

(2) ★★★★★ Sysinternals (#17, 7)

Sysinternals provides many small windows utilities that are quite useful for low-level windows hacking. Some are free of cost and/or include source code, while others are proprietary. Survey respondents were most enamored with:

Many of the Sysinternals tools originally came with source code and there were even Linux versions. Microsoft acquired Sysinternals in July 2006, promising that “Customers will be able to continue building on Sysinternals' advanced utilities, technical information and source code”. Less than four months later, Microsoft removed most of that source code. Read 2 reviews.

Latest release: Feb. 4, 2011 (11 years, 5 months ago).

(30) ★★★★ OpenVAS (#19, new!)

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 35 reviews.

Latest release: version 8.0 on April 2, 2015 (7 years, 3 months ago).

(8) ★★★★½ THC Hydra (#22, 7)

When you need to brute force crack a remote authentication service, Hydra is often the tool of choice. It can perform rapid dictionary attacks against more than 50 protocols, including telnet, ftp, http, https, smb, several databases, and much more. Like THC Amap this release is from the fine folks at THC. Other online crackers are Medusa and Ncrack. The Nmap Security Scanner also contains many online brute force password cracking modules. Read 25 reviews.

Latest release: version 8.2 on June 16, 2016 (6 years ago).

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