Penetration Testing Tools

Penetration Testing Tools Overview

What are Penetration Testing Tools?

Penetration Testing (Pen Testing) Tools provide means to conduct authorized, ethical (white-hat) hacking of applications in production. These simulated attacks by testers help organizations locate vulnerabilities that may be exploited by hackers and determine the possible risk associated with said vulnerabilities. The tools then report the exploited vulnerabilities to the organization for remediation. They are usually used either as part of a comprehensive security assessment, or part of the QA process in application or system development.

Penetration testing tools are closely related to the Application Security Testing space. Application Security Testing is a key element of ensuring that web applications remain secure. Various tools and managed services exist to provide continuous testing, besides application security platforms that include app testing as part of their functionality. Penetration testing can extend beyond applications by testing networks, services, or social engineering vulnerabilities.

Penetration testing is a broad field, with a wide range of tool types and penetration methods. Some of the most common testing types supported by these tools include:

  • White box tests

  • Blind tests

  • Double-blind tests

  • External tests

  • Internal tests

There are several key benefits of penetration testing tools. Primarily, they automate much of the testing process, allowing for more efficient and comprehensive security testing. This reduces the risk of malicious breaches on the organization’s networks, services, or applications. Penetration testing tools also provide testers the assurances and data to remain compliant with various regulatory requirements.

Penetration Testing vs. Vulnerability Management Tools

Penetration testing is often confused with vulnerability scanning or management. They are closely related, but with important distinctions. Vulnerability management focuses on identifying and reporting on vulnerabilities within various systems. They can continuously scan networks and systems. However, they only focus on identifying vulnerabilities, rather than following through on triggering the identified exploit.

Penetration testing complements these vulnerability management tools. Penetration testing fully exploits the found vulnerabilities to better understand the extent and impact of a given vulnerability. Penetration testing is usually not a continuous function, but can provide more thorough intelligence to security administrators. Penetration testing tools are usually used together with other vulnerability management tools.

Penetration Testing Tools Comparison

When comparing different penetration testing tools, consider these factors:

  • Testing Flexibility: What range of features and capabilities can each tool be configured to use? For instance, does each tools specialize in network testing, application security, or even people hacking? Many leading tools will offer some capabilities to serve each use case, but will vary in their comprehensiveness.

  • Standalone Penetration Testing vs. Application Security Solution: Does the organization need a specific tool just for penetration testing, or is a broader application security solution more appropriate? Solutions will also come with code analysis tools and integrate with development cycles, but will also require more management and higher up front costs.

Start a penetration testing tool comparison here

Penetration Testing Products

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Veracode is an application security platform that performs five types of analysis; static analysis, dynamic analysis, software composition analysis, interactive application security testing, and penetration testing. Veracode offers on-demand expertise and aims to help companies fix…


Wireshark is an open source network troubleshooting tool.

PortSwigger Burp Suite

The Burp Suite, from UK-based alcohol-themed software company PortSwigger Web Security, is an application security and testing solution.


Metasploit is open source network security software described by Rapid7 as the world’s most used penetration testing framework, designed to help security teams do more than just verify vulnerabilities, manage security assessments, and improve security awareness.


HackerOne is a hacker-powered security platform, helping organizations find and fix critical vulnerabilities before they can be exploited, from the company of the same name in San Francisco. The service is used for vulnerability location, pen testing, bug bounty, and vulnerability…

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is an open source, advanced penetration testing platform supported by Offensive Security headquartered in New York.

Titania Nipper

Nipper discovers vulnerabilities in firewalls, switches and routers, automatically prioritizing risks to an organization. Its virtual modelling is designed to reduce false positives and identify exact fixes to help users stay secure and compliant.Audits: Firewalls | Switches | Routers…

Mandiant Security Validation (formerly Verodin)

Mandiant Security Validation (formerly Verodin), now from FireEye (acquired May 2019), provides organizations with the evidence needed to measure, manage and improve their cybersecurity effectiveness. This capability enables enterprises to quantifiably validate if their controls…

Mobile Security Framework (MobSF)

Mobile Security Framework (MobSF) is an automated, all-in-one mobile application (Android/iOS/Windows) pen-testing, malware analysis and security assessment framework capable of performing static and dynamic analysis. MobSF support mobile app binaries (APK, IPA & APPX) along with…


Hashcat is a password recovery tool that can also be used in security testing (e.g. password cracking, exposing flaws).


SimplyEmail is an open source email recon tool used for security and penetration testing.

Beagle Security

Beagle Security is a web-based solution that helps to discover website security issues at the right time and address them in the right way, from the Indian company of the same name.


sqlmap is an open source penetration testing tool that automates the process of detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws and taking over of database servers. It comes with a detection engine and features for the ultimate penetration tester and a range of switches lasting from…


The BreachLock Cloud Platform, from BreachLock in New York, provides continuous penetration testing and vulnerability scanning with actionable results for public cloud, applications, or networks.


Scantrics is a tool, powered by Primary Guard, that is used by security professionals to test the integrity of web assets and applications. Scantrics helps identify the risk factors associated with key vulnerabilities which may impact the confidentiality, integrity, and availability…


Intruder, from Intruder Systems in London, is a cloud-based vulnerability scanner that finds cyber security weaknesses in digital infrastructure, to avoid costly data breaches.


FuzzDB is an open source database introduced by Mozilla developers, supplying attack patterns, predictable resource names, regex patterns for identifying interesting server responses, and documentation resources. It’s most often used testing the security of web applications.

Spirent SecurityLabs

The vendor states Spirent SecurityLabs’ services are structured to produce high-impact results with minimal impact on the client organization. Their team of security professionals offer comprehensive scanning, penetration testing and monitoring services for networks, applications…

Defensics Fuzz Testing

Defensics fuzz testing is presented by Synopsys as a comprehensive, automated black box solution that enables organizations to effectively and efficiently discover and remediate security weaknesses in software. By taking a systematic and intelligent approach to negative testing, they…


Microsoft supports the open source Counterfit command line tool. Made open source in 2021, the tool can be used in any environment (it is environment agnostic) or deployed from the cloud (e.g. Azure), and it is used to test the vulnerability of machine learning and AI systems. It…

SecPoint Penetrator Vulnerability Scanner

SecPoint Penetrator is a vulnerability scanning virtual or hardware appliance that simulates how a hacker could penetrate a given system and reveal vulnerabilities, used for penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.

AttackIQ Security Optimization Platform

AttackIQ from the company of the same name headquartered in San Diego, is a cybersecurity platform that aims to give customers a consistent, trusted, and safe way to test and validate security controls at scale and in production. While competitors test in sandboxes, AttackIQ tests…

Core Impact

Core Impact from HelpSystems is a penetration testing platform designed to enable security teams to conduct advanced tests with ease. With guided automation and certified exploits, users can safely test an environment using the same techniques as today’s adversaries.

Exploit Database

Exploit Database is an archive of known security vulnerabilities and exploits, supported by Offensive Security headquartered in New York.

Praetorian Diana

Austin-based cybersecurity company Praetorian is the developer of Diana, a bug bounty and application security testing platform, with limited availability (2020) in anticipation of full release in the near future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing is ethically hacking an organization’s systems and networks to expose vulnerabilities for remediation.

Who performs penetration testing?

The most common penetration testing tool users are dedicated testers and testing services, network specialists, and security admins.

What’s the difference between penetration testing and vulnerability testing?

Vulnerability testing can be continuous and just identifies vulnerabilities, while penetration testing is used at specific points and fully explores identified exploits to better understand the scope of vulnerabilities.

When should you do penetration testing?

Penetration testing is most commonly conducted as part of a larger security assessment, or as part of late-stage development cycles.