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10 Most Powerful Ethical Hacking Tools in 2024

20th May, 2024
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    10 Most Powerful Ethical Hacking Tools in 2024

    Not All Hackers Wear Hoodies

    While some of us would argue that the world has started to see ethical hackers in a more positive light over the last few years, the term still has a negative connotation. Many people still consider it a criminal activity, mainly due to the portrayal of hackers as either cybercriminals or thieves in pop culture and popular media. That’s a shame because ethical hacking is simply a practice carried out by large organizations, mainly the tech industry, to protect their data. It’s something they do to keep their organization and its resources safe. So, as you can see, ethical hackers are simply computer security specialists, and no, they’re not always wearing hoodies or masks. I’ll take you through the top software for hacking in this blog.

    Before we talk about the best hacking software available, it’s essential to know who an ethical hacker is. An ethical hacker is a computer expert who knows how to find vulnerabilities in a target system and exploit them. They also have in-depth networking knowledge and can easily invade the target system and sift through their data. Of course, the question then arises - how does this make them different from a typical hacker? One word – consent. The term consent ensures two critical things:

    a. The process is now a legal activity

    b. The hacker has no malicious intent

    Before they can hack into any system and start figuring out security issues in the code, every ethical hacker usually has to sign a legally binding document, which states that they have to work towards improving the organization’s security and nothing else. They would have typically built their capabilities by enrolling in a CEH training program. So, you see, an ethical hacker penetrates their company’s system to find vulnerabilities (if any) with its security and improve it. In that way, an ethical hacker is just a problem-solver, but perhaps with a more significant burden to carry than the rest of us.

    Top Tools for Ethical Hacking 

    While it’s not possible to talk about all the ethical hacking tools available in one go, I’ll take you through some of the most popular ones below.

    1. Nmap 

    Short for Network Mapper, no ethical hacker can do without this tool because of its powerful searching and scanning abilities. Ethical hackers use this tool for port scanning. The information gathered using this tool is vital for every ethical hacker in deciding how to attack the target system, i.e., the steps involved. Nmap enables them to discover services and hosts on any network, creating a network map. Using this tool, you can probe computer networks and detect operating systems. First developed for Linux or Unix, Nmap is now a cross-platform tool and works on Mac and Windows.

    2. Nessus 

    Second on the list is Nessus, the world’s most renowned vulnerability scanner. It was developed by Tenable. It helps you detect unpatched services, misconfiguration, weak passwords, and other system vulnerabilities. A free tool Nessus is recommended for non-enterprise usage. An ethical hacker can see critical bugs in any target system.

    3. Burp Suite

    Burp Suite is a Java-based framework that deals with Web Penetration Testing. It is an industry-standard suite of tools that information security professionals use. As an ethical hacker, Burp Suite enables you to find vulnerabilities in your target system and confirm if any attack vectors are affecting web applications. Burp Suite has a great web application crawler that maps content and functionality accurately. It also handles state changes, application logins, and volatile content.

    4. Metasploit

    Metasploit is an open-source penetration testing framework written in Ruby.  It is a public resource for confirming security vulnerabilities and developing code. This code allows any ethical hacker to break into their network to identify security risks and decide which vulnerabilities to address first—many beginners in the field of ethical hacking use this tool to sharpen their skills.

    5. Netsparker

    The advantage that Netsparker brings to the table is that it gives you the ability to imitate a hacker’s typical actions. You can use this tool to identify any web API threats (application programming interface), such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting. You don’t have to worry about vulnerabilities being disguised as a false positive – Netsparker identifies genuine vulnerabilities one after the other without manual verification. This software is also easy to access. It’s available as an online service and Windows software.

    6. Acunetix

    Between an SQL Injection (SQLi) and an XSS attack (cross-site scripting), which would you say is more dangerous? The former sends damaging SQL statements back to the victim user and compromises the safety of the database server behind the application. On the other hand, the latter attacks interactions between users and an application if it is vulnerable. Acunetix is a lifesaver in both scenarios. It’s a fully automated tool, capable of detecting and reporting almost 5,000 security threats, including every variant of SQLi and XSS! It supports both HTML5 and JavaScript and prioritizes vulnerabilities based on risk level.

    7. Aircrack-Ng

    Across the world, a layperson will equate good internet with a strong Wi-Fi connection. So, it’s no surprise that specific tools target Wi-Fi networks. The advantage that Aircrack-Ng offers ethical hackers is the arsenal of tools that they can use to check and evaluate a network. If they identify a vulnerable network, they can then test, monitor, strike, and crack it, like a proper operation! This Wi-Fi hacking software spares no platform- it supports Windows, OS X, Linux, 2Free BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and even Solaris!

    8. John the Ripper

    If you know anything about the gruesome Jack the Ripper murders, you know that you have enough reason to fear this tool. This is a tool that explicitly targets and hacks passwords. It is free and can mainly spot weak UNIX passwords. It comes with a bundle of password crackers and can be used on Windows, DOS, and Open VMS. You can also use this tool to create a tracker tailored to your needs. If you want to target encrypted passwords and security, this is your tool.

    9. Ettercap

    Ettercap is an open-source network security tool commonly used for protocol analysis and security auditing.  It targets insecure ARPs (address resolution protocols) and poisons such ARP caches. It can filter content, sniff packets (both MAC and IP-based), analyze networks and hosts, decrypt passwords, etc. Ettercap can decode several types of passwords, including HTTP, FTP, POP, and SSL.

    If you’re an aspiring ethical hacker and want to understand the numerous intricacies of the above tools, a cybersecurity certification is usually the way to go. Our trusted and oft-abused search engine pal, Google, can help you find the best cybersecurity certifications you can enroll for from home comfort.

    Can You Legally Use Hacking Tools?

    The short answer – is yes. You can use hacking tools legally, but under the following conditions:

    1. You’re a white hat hacker

    As previously mentioned, what separates ethical hackers from criminals is that the former uses their skills and these tools to identify security threats and vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. You cannot exploit any organization’s security flaws for personal gain or fun (even if you’re wearing a white hat/beanie).

    2. You have written permission.

    If you have express written permission from the organization (whose computer network you’re intercepting), it is legal for you to use the hacking tools mentioned above. This means that the company probably employs you as an ethical hacker, and they’re aware of what you’re doing.  However, if they are not, you’re a cybercriminal engaging in criminal activity.

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    How Do You Use Hacking Tools?

    • You can use any hacking tool you want by using the steps outlined below:
    • Download and install the desired hacking tool you want.
    • Launch the software once it has been successfully installed.
    • Finish setting up the particular software on your system.
    • Please acquaint yourself with the tool's UI and functionalities; get comfortable with it, basically.
    • Take the software for a test drive using a preconfigured external browser.
    • Get started, i.e., use the software to intercept/analyze a website.

    Wondering what Social Engineering is? Read more about recent attacks, steps, and prevention involved in social engineering in the linked blog.

    Wear the White Hat

    Now that you know what makes an ethical hacker and the different tools you may end up using, we hope you’re more evident on whether you’d consider making ethical hacking your career. If you’re looking to build a career in this domain, check out our Certified Ethical Hacker Training course. You will access five days of Live Online instructor-led training by our Master Trainer. You’ll also receive in-depth knowledge on ethical hacking from certified EC-Council instructors.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1Which one is the best hacking tool?

    There are several useful hacking tools you can use. Nmap, Nessus, and Burp Suite are some of the more popular ones.

    2Is it legal to have hacking software?

    You can legally use hacking software only if you’re a white-hat hacker, i.e., you have consent from the organization whose websites you plan on intercepting.

    3Is ethical hacking hard to learn?

    Yes, but several ethical hacker training programs or courses on cybersecurity can help you get started.  

    4What are the steps to learn hacking legally?

    You can learn hacking legally through an ethical hacking course, wherein you’ll learn how to work with various hacker tools. There are also several websites where you can learn to hack legally.  

    5How much time does it take to become a hacker?

    This depends on several factors, such as how you plan to acquire skills. For example, learning on your own will take you much longer than if you were to enroll in a cybersecurity course.


    Vitesh Sharma

    Blog Author

    Vitesh Sharma, a distinguished Cyber Security expert with a wealth of experience exceeding 6 years in the Telecom & Networking Industry. Armed with a CCIE and CISA certification, Vitesh possesses expertise in MPLS, Wi-Fi Planning & Designing, High Availability, QoS, IPv6, and IP KPIs. With a robust background in evaluating and optimizing MPLS security for telecom giants, Vitesh has been instrumental in driving large service provider engagements, emphasizing planning, designing, assessment, and optimization. His experience spans prestigious organizations like Barclays, Protiviti, EY, PwC India, Tata Consultancy Services, and more. With a unique blend of technical prowess and management acumen, Vitesh remains at the forefront of ensuring secure and efficient networking solutions, solidifying his position as a notable figure in the cybersecurity landscape.

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