8 Greatest Penetration Testing Instruments for 2024

As know-how continues to advance, making certain the safety of laptop techniques, networks and functions turns into more and more essential. One of many methods by which safety professionals can assess the safety posture of a whole digital ecosystem is by finishing up penetration testing, or pen testing for brief.

SEE: Brute Force and Dictionary Attacks: A Guide for IT Leaders (TechRepublic Premium)

Penetration testing is a basic follow for assessing and strengthening the safety posture of a corporation’s digital belongings and is performed with penetration testing instruments. Given the proliferation of those instruments, I’ve provide you with an inventory of the highest penetration testing instruments obtainable with their options, advantages and downsides.

Penetration testing software program comparability desk

Here’s a function comparability of our shortlisted pen testing instruments and the way they stack up in opposition to one another.

Compliance checksVariety of exams coatedOpen-source / web-basedReporting and documentationBeginning worth
AstraSure8,000+InternetSure$1,999 per yr, one goal
AcunetixNo7,000+InternetSureContact for quote. 
IntruderSureNot specifiedInternetSure$157 monthly, one utility
MetasploitSure1,500+EachNoContact for quote. 
Core ImpactSureNot specifiedInternetSure$9,450 per consumer, consumer per yr.
Kali LinuxSureNot specifiedOpen-sourceSureFully free
WiresharkNoNot specifiedOpen-sourceSureFully free
SQL MapNoNot specifiedOpen-sourceSureFully free

Astra: Greatest for various infrastructure

The Astra logo.
Picture: Astra

Astra is a penetration testing device resolution with a number of automated testing options that mix guide with automated penetration testing options for functions, networks, API and blockchains. With over 8,000 exams supported, this device will help safety professionals examine vulnerabilities inside a system. Astra covers several types of penetration testing, together with internet app pentest, cloud safety pentest and cellular app pentest.

SEE: Best Secure Access Service Edge Platforms in 2024 (TechRepublic)

As a complete penetration testing resolution, Astra covers many exams that may assist organizations meet compliance requirements. A few of the compliance requirements that Astra can verify embrace SOC2, GDPR and ISO 27001. The Astra device additionally integrates with GitLab, Jira and Slack and infuses safety right into a steady integration/steady deployment (CI/CD) pipeline.

Why I picked Astra

I picked Astra for its Enterprise Internet App subscription that’s capable of accommodate several types of infrastructure. Specifically, it may be used on internet, cellular, cloud and community infrastructures — providing the power to have a number of targets throughout varied asset varieties. That is on prime of Astra’s 8,000+ obtainable exams and its big selection of integrations with different common software program.


Astra’s pricing is categorized into internet app, cellular app and AWS cloud safety, every with totally different pricing.

  • Internet app: Scanner – $1,999/yr, Pentest – $5,999/yr and Enterprise – $9,999/yr.
  • Cell: Pentest – $2,499/yr and Enterprise – $3,999/yr.
  • AWS cloud safety: Beneath this are the Primary and Elite plans, and each require customers to talk to the gross sales group for a quote.


  • Covers 8,000+ exams scanning.
  • Covers all exams required for ISO 27001, HIPAA, SOC2 and GDPR.
  • Integration with GitLab, GitHub, Slack and Jira.
  • PWA/SPAs apps scanning assist.
  • Help by means of Slack and Microsoft Groups.

Astra's pentest dashboard.
Astra’s pentest dashboard. Picture: Astra


  • Slack workspaces.
  • Jira.
  • GitHub.
  • GitLab.
  • Azure.
  • CircleCI.


  • Helps publicly verifiable pentest certificates, which could be shared with customers.
  • Presents one of many widest testing coverages (over 8,000).
  • Exams are automated with AI/ML.
  • Help by way of Slack or Microsoft Groups.


  • What is meant to be a free trial is charged at $1 per day.
  • Help by way of Slack and MS Groups is barely obtainable on the Enterprise plan.

Acunetix: Greatest for pentest automation

The Acuntetix logo.
Picture: Acuntetix

Acunetix by Invicti is a strong pen testing device for internet functions. The answer is filled with scanning utilities that may assist penetration check groups shortly get an perception into over 7,000 internet utility vulnerabilities and supply an in depth report masking the scope of vulnerability.

A few of the notable vulnerabilities Acunetix can detect embrace XSS, SQL injections, uncovered databases, out-of-band vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.

SEE: Top 8 Advanced Threat Protection Tools and Software for 2024 (TechRepublic)

Acunetix comes with a dashboard that may kind vulnerabilities into courses, corresponding to essential, excessive, medium and low. The device is written in C++ and might run on Microsoft Home windows, Linux, macOS and the cloud.

Why I picked Acunetix

For companies particularly on the lookout for automated pentesting, I like Acunetix. It gives scheduled or recurring utility scans, contains over 7,000 vulnerability exams and generates helpful insights earlier than a scan is half-way by means of. I think about it to be an awesome resolution for organizations that desire a no-nonsense pentest device that saves them time, with out sacrificing total safety.


Contact Acunetix for a quote.


  • Vulnerability categorization into an order of severity.
  • Over 7,000 internet app vulnerabilities are supported.
  • Covers the OWASP High 10 customary for builders and internet utility safety.
  • Scan scheduling performance.
  • Compatibility with issue-tracking instruments like Jira and GitLab.

Acunetix scan result classification dashboard.
Acunetix scan consequence classification dashboard. Picture: Acnetix


  • Jira.
  • Azure DevOps.
  • GitHub.
  • GitLab.
  • Bugzilla.
  • Mantis.


  • Detected vulnerabilities are labeled in keeping with their severity degree.
  • Helps reporting and documentation.
  • Over 7,000 vulnerability exams are a broad protection.
  • Customers can schedule one-time or recurring scans.
  • Helps concurrent scanning of a number of environments.


  • No pricing particulars for customers.
  • Absence of a free trial.

Core Affect: Greatest for collaboration

The Fortra logo.
Picture: Fortra

Core Affect, now part of Fortra, ranks as one of many oldest penetration testing instruments which have developed alongside the present calls for of a testing surroundings. The software program can facilitate the method of assault replication throughout endpoints, community infrastructures, internet and functions to disclose exploited vulnerabilities and supply solutions for remediation.

Core Affect reduces the necessity for guide configuration throughout set up and testing. Customers can simply outline check scope and set testing parameters, and Core Affect does the remaining. As well as, this device can generate an assault map, giving customers a real-time report of assault actions throughout testing.

Why I picked Core Affect

I chosen Core Affect for its robust deal with group testing. It permits plenty of safety testers to work together with every in the identical session. This permits testing groups to simply share findings and knowledge, in addition to smoother delegation of testing duties. With Core Affect’s emphasis on shared workspaces, testing turns into extra environment friendly and holistic consequently.


Core Affect has three pricing plans:

  • Primary: Begins at $9,450/consumer per yr.
  • Professional: Begins at $12,600/consumer per yr.
  • Enterprise: Request a quote.


  • Automated Speedy Penetration Exams (RPTs).
  • Multi-vector testing functionality that features community, consumer and internet.
  • Vulnerability validation of third-party scanner outcomes.
  • Centralizes pen testing, from data gathering to reporting.
  • Pen testing covers community safety, internet utility, IoT safety and cloud safety.

Core Impact workspace dashboard.
Core Affect workspace dashboard. Picture: Core Affect


  • Metasploit.
  • Cobalt Strike.
  • PowerShell.
  • Empire.
  • PlexTrac.


  • Makes use of automation wizards to find, check and report.
  • Free trial obtainable.
  • Presents broader cybersecurity companies.
  • New customers can study concerning the device by way of a demo.


  • Pricing may be very costly.
  • Free trial doesn’t state how lengthy the trial interval lasts.

Kali Linux: Greatest for technical customers

The Kali Linux logo.
Picture: Kali Linux

Kali Linux is an open-source pen testing resolution that runs on the Debian-based Linux distribution. The device has superior multi-platform options that may assist testing on cellular, desktop, Docker, subsystems, digital machines and naked metallic.

As an open-source device, professionals can simply customise it to match their testing conditions. There may be detailed documentation on utilizing Kali’s metapackages to generate software program variations for particular testing functions. Kali additionally saves customers the time wanted to arrange instruments manually by including an automatic configuration system that optimizes the device in keeping with totally different use instances.

Why I picked Kali Linux

Kali Linux is my choose for technical and skilled pentesters on the lookout for a strong testing resolution. It was designed with skilled penetration testers in thoughts, providing a extremely customizable structure that lets pen testers construct their very own model of the software program tailor-made to their wants.

I significantly respect how Kali Linux is upfront in saying that it’s made for veteran pentesters and skilled Linux customers, not on a regular basis customers. This permits their device to be nearly as good as it may be for his or her chosen user-base, versus attempting to accommodate all customers, which can reduce total high quality.


It’s obtainable fully freed from cost.


  • Metapackages can be utilized for particular duties.
  • Presents Dwell USB Boot for straightforward booting from a USB machine.
  • Helps over 600 penetration testing utilities.
  • Open-source growth mannequin could be accessed on GitHub.

Kali Linux dashboard.
Kali Linux dashboard. Picture: Kali Linux


  • AWS.
  • Azure.
  • Digital Ocean.
  • Linode.


  • Helps a big selection of variations.
  • Accessible free of charge.
  • Programs and documentation can be found for brand spanking new customers.
  • Multi-language assist.


  • Principally ultimate for superior Linux customers.

Wireshark: Greatest for Unix OS

The Wireshark logo.
Picture: Wireshark

The Wireshark device can analyze and check a corporation’s community protocol for threats. The device is a multi-platform penetration testing utility with helpful options corresponding to dwell seize, offline and VoIP evaluation.

As an open-source device, Wireshark offers plenty of assist for its customers by means of documentation, webinars and video tutorials. The device additionally offers decryption options for arrays of protocols corresponding to Kerberos, SSL/TLS and WEP.

Why I picked Wireshark

I selected Wireshark for being a superb choose with regards to Unix OS customers. As a very free and open supply device, Wireshark permits customers to check community protocols and see what’s taking place in each broad and fantastic element. Whereas it may be technically intimidating, I just like the in-depth documentation it offers to customers involved in utilizing Wireshark for his or her particular testing wants.


It’s obtainable free of charge.


  • Accessible for UNIX and Home windows.
  • Seize dwell packet knowledge from a community interface.
  • Show filters for sorting by means of and analyzing site visitors streams.
  • Helps offline and VoIP evaluation.

Wireshark capture packets dashboard.
Wireshark seize packets dashboard. Picture: Wireshark


  • AirPcap.
  • YR20 community seize {hardware}.
  • Inside Merchandise.
  • C5 SIGMA.


  • It’s obtainable free of charge and is open supply.
  • There may be an export objects operate for exporting check outcomes.
  • It may be used for decryption throughout a variety of protocols.
  • High quality documentation for brand spanking new customers.


  • Setup may be too technical for brand spanking new customers.
  • Restricted automated functionalities.

SQLMap: Greatest for detecting SQL injection assaults

The SQLMap logo.
Picture: SQLMap

For open-source lovers, SQLMap is a wonderful penetration testing device for detecting and exploiting SQL injections in functions. Penetration testers make the most of the device to hack databases and perceive the depth of vulnerabilities.

As well as, SQLMap has a testing engine that may run a number of SQL injection assaults concurrently, lowering the time spent operating the check. Some notable servers supported on the platform are Microsoft Entry, IBM DB2, SQLite and MySQL.

It’s also a cross-platform device, supporting macOS, Linux and Home windows working techniques.

Why I picked SQLMap

For companies trying to defend in opposition to SQL injection assaults, I strongly advocate having SQLMap in your record. It’s a top quality pentest device that’s designed to detect SQL injections robotically in all forms of functions. It covers a variety of injection assaults and methods and has intensive assist for quite a few database administration techniques. SQLMap is free and has a superb quantity of documentation obtainable on-line.


Accessible free of charge.


  • Helps a number of SQL injection methods.
  • Computerized recognition of password hash codecs.
  • Help for cracking passwords utilizing a dictionary-based assault.
  • Can execute arbitrary instructions and retrieve their customary output.

SQL Map Demo.
SQL Map Demo. Picture: SQLMap


  • Burp Suite.
  • Metasploit.
  • Nmap.


  • Covers a broad vary of SQL injection methods.
  • Appropriate with a number of database administration techniques like MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Entry, IBM DB2 and extra.
  • Accessible free of charge.
  • Has good documentation.


  • Solely appropriate for command-line customers.

Penetration testing options provide a number of options and use instances relying on the target of the consumer. Beneath are the important thing options of penetration testing options.

Vulnerability scanning

Penetration testing typically entails vulnerability scans that seek for weaknesses and loopholes in software program functions, networks and techniques. These scans can detect potential vulnerabilities, corresponding to outdated software program variations, misconfigurations and identified safety flaws.

Community mapping and reconnaissance

Community mapping and reconnaissance consult with the method of gathering data and creating a visible illustration of a community’s infrastructure and its linked units. Earlier than launching an assault, hackers sometimes collect details about their goal. Equally, penetration testing instruments help with reconnaissance actions by mapping networks, figuring out energetic hosts and amassing details about the goal infrastructure. This function aids safety professionals in understanding the group’s digital footprint and potential entry factors for attackers.

Site visitors evaluation and sniffing

Some penetration testing instruments can analyze community site visitors and seize packets. This functionality permits safety professionals to watch and examine community communication, establish potential vulnerabilities and detect any suspicious or malicious actions. By analyzing community site visitors, organizations can achieve worthwhile insights into the safety posture of their techniques.

Reporting and documentation

Efficient communication of vulnerabilities and really helpful mitigation methods is important within the penetration testing course of. Penetration testing instruments provide reporting and documentation options to generate complete experiences detailing recognized vulnerabilities, steps taken throughout testing and suggestions for remediation. These experiences assist within the prioritization and implementation of safety measures and compliance verification processes.

Customization options

Completely different organizations have distinctive safety necessities. These instruments typically provide customization choices and extensibility options, permitting safety professionals to tailor the testing course of to their particular wants. Customization empowers organizations to deal with their most important belongings and assess vulnerabilities which might be particular to their surroundings.

How do I select the most effective penetration testing software program for my enterprise?

Given the avalanche of pen testing instruments obtainable to safety professionals, choosing the proper pen testing software program is commonly a problem. Listed below are key issues that will help you select the most effective penetration testing software program on your particular enterprise wants.

Determine your pen testing objectives

Earlier than getting began with the choice course of, clearly outline your aims for conducting penetration testing. Decide what you purpose to attain by means of the testing course of, corresponding to figuring out vulnerabilities in your techniques, assessing the effectiveness of your safety controls, or assembly regulatory compliance necessities. Understanding your objectives will enable you slim down the software program choices that align together with your particular necessities. As could be seen from our comparability desk, a few of the instruments are higher than others for various eventualities.

Take into account testing methodologies

Penetration testing could be performed utilizing totally different methodologies, corresponding to black field, white field, or grey field testing. Consider the software program’s functionality to assist the specified testing methodology. Some instruments could focus on particular forms of testing, so remember to verify that the software program aligns together with your most popular strategy. Flexibility in supporting varied testing methodologies could be helpful in case you require totally different approaches for various techniques or eventualities.

Take into account ease of use and consumer interface

It is best to take into account the user-friendliness of the software program and the intuitiveness of its consumer interface. Penetration testing entails complicated processes, so it’s vital to decide on a device that’s simple to navigate and perceive. A well-designed consumer interface and clear documentation can considerably improve your expertise with the software program and enhance productiveness. Whereas a few of the penetration testing instruments I shortlisted provide each GUI and command-line interfaces, some solely assist the command-line interface. Though each interfaces result in the identical consequence, superior customers could also be extra comfy with the command-line interface than common customers.

Take into account compatibility and integration choices

Assess the compatibility of the software program together with your current IT infrastructure. Make sure that the device can seamlessly combine together with your techniques, networks, and functions with out inflicting disruptions. Compatibility issues embrace the working techniques, databases, and programming languages supported by the software program. Moreover, confirm whether or not the device can combine with different safety options you presently use, corresponding to vulnerability administration platforms or safety data and occasion administration techniques.

Verify for safety and compliance

Given the delicate nature of penetration testing make sure that the software program itself adheres to business finest practices. Assess the software program’s potential to deal with confidential data securely and keep the privateness of your testing actions. Moreover, take into account whether or not the device helps compliance necessities particular to your business or location.

Greatest practices for penetration testing

Definition of scope and finances

Generally you assume it’s ultimate to check your whole system surroundings; nonetheless, defining the price of testing your whole software program ecosystem could persuade you in any other case. Each group has excessive and low vulnerability factors. Excessive-risk factors are the areas that malicious actors can simply exploit. They will embrace utility code base, configuration information and working techniques. Understanding the scope of the check beforehand is a wonderful approach to assist the group plan a penetration testing finances.

Monetary and buyer knowledge needs to be included

Many organizations deal with excessive volumes of economic and buyer data of their database. This set of knowledge is essential to any group and should be protected in any respect prices in opposition to breaches. There needs to be complete penetration testing on these knowledge sources and the software program instruments that always connect with them.

Take into account testing remotely accessible sources

Your group’s penetration testing plans mustn’t exclude your distant sources and staff. Organizations that assist distant roles typically present distant entry to worthwhile sources, which could be an entry level for hackers as a consequence of poor safety monitoring. Distant sources with restricted safety monitoring techniques needs to be coated within the penetration testing.


To curate our record of the most effective penetration testing instruments, I performed intensive analysis by extracting data from official web sites, product documentation, case research, and consumer suggestions from dependable third-party evaluation websites. The standards that knowledgeable our alternative embrace the important thing options and functionalities coated by the pen testing resolution, the group across the software program, the consumer base/recognition of the software program, ease of use and the standard of documentation supplied by the software program. All these elements knowledgeable our choice course of for this evaluation.

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