Top 10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source (Pros and Cons)

Top 10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source (Pros and Cons). In this post, we will provide a list of best Penetration Testing Tools with their features, pros and cons.

By all means penetration testers or pen testers often encounter ‘white hat’ or ethical hackers and adversaries who have impeccable authority to attack the network. During these real world conditions, they test the IT systems for any vulnerabilities.

Evidently they do so to prevent its exploitation by cybercriminals. These security audits involve several techniques or tools that replicate the classic steps of the attacks. Furthermore it includes gathering information, phishing, or escalating privileges.

For this, beginners and even professionals select open source solutions over premium ones. Henceforth we have developed a list of open source penetration testing tools worthy enough to fulfil your specific penetration testing needs.

Let’s start with our topic Top 10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source (Pros and Cons).

Why Do You Need A Penetration Testing Tool?

Why is Penetration Testing essential?

  • Manages Risks – Firstly it defends against vulnerabilities and wards off threats that can potentially become an attack event. First of all penetration tester addresses this step before cybercriminals get familiar with the application and start exploiting it.
  • Saves Cost – Secondly the cost incurred in recovery and remediation after a breach is always less than in actual penetration testing.
  • Mitigates Application And Network Downtime – Thirdly this problem can lead to loss of productivity and availability. And since, today, time is equivalent to money, any failure can result in inactivity and cost your company millions of dollars.
  • Safeguards Your Organization’s Reputation – A single security incident can significantly impact your customer’s trust. Additionally it also affects the morale of your employees, which should be publicly reported or addressed in most cases. Therefore, it is significant to have a penetration testing tool integrated into your organization.

10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source

Overall an open source Penetration testing tool should constitute a scanning feature to crawl on your web facing apps and servers and run unknown attacks against them. The list of top 10 testing tools is below:


First on our list is OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP). An integrated open source tool for penetration testing. You can use it for identifying vulnerabilities in Web apps and Websites. Primarily it is an effortless and flexible tool regardless of your proficiency level. In nutshell anyone can use it, ranging from a newbie to a professional in the field.

Features of OWASP ZAP

  • Its intercepting proxy helps you to analyse, modify and inject traffic into the message content.
  • Automated Scanner allows the security tester to enter the web application URL that requires the treatment.
  • Also it’s Brute force web application identifies the security vulnerabilities.
  • Port Scanning gives you information about the opened ports.
  • Allows us to enter unexpected inputs or valid inputs to see whether the application is breaking.


  • Have a highly active OWASP team.
  • Supports several programming and script languages.
  • Possess an incredible documentation and is easy to learn.
  • Delivers graphical and command line interfaces.
  • Comprehensive and comes with a range of features, including passive and active scans, spider, APIs, marketplace, request editor, plugins, etc.


  • Requires additional plugins to have access to other features.
  • Complex installation process.

2. W3af

W3af is another open source web application used for security scanning. Also known as a web application attack or audit framework. Moreover it offers vulnerability scanners and exploiting tools for web applications. During penetration testing, it delivers information about security vulnerabilities divided into two main parts, core and plugins.

Features of W3af

  • Ability to add custom headers to the request.
  • Handles cookies.
  • Uploads file using multipart.
  • Gives response to HTTP cache.

Pros of W3af

  • Best tool for beginners as it is easy to learn and use.
  • Can automate numerous tasks.
  • Helps in generating valuable reports.
  • Offers thorough documentation.

Cons of W3af

  • Has a complex GUI (Graphical User Interface).

3. Nikto2

Basically the next chosen tool is Nikto2.  Simply put another open source web server scanner for performing comprehensive tests against web servers for several items. Includes over 6700 dangerous files and programs, 1250 outdated servers, and 270 version specific servers. Altogether it also scans items like index files and HTTP server options.

Features of Nikto2

  • Supports SSL.
  • Looks for outdated server components.
  • Saves reports in plain texts, XML, HTML, NBE, or CSV.
  • Scans several ports on a server.
  • Reports ‘unusual’ headers.
  • Guess subdomain.
  • Gets updates via command line.

Pros of Nikto2

  • Relatively effortless in covering the most common needs.
  • Supports both input and output files.
  • Tests Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS).

Cons of Nikto2

  • Its definite nature confuses the beginners.
  • Unknown community or support.
  • Do not have GUI.

4. WPScan

Interestingly WPScan is a well known security tool for WordPress users. Its quick scan reveals the typical flaws of WordPress installations. Above all also efficient in performing brute force attacks.

Features of WPScan

  • Discovers usernames.
  • Identifies vulnerabilities.
  • Enhances version enumeration.
  • Discovers Timbthumb files.

Pros of WPScan

  • Has a great documentation.

Cons of WPScan

  • Does not have a GUI.
  • Limited API quotas in the free plan.
  • If you do not use Kali Linux, you have to encounter a lot of prerequisites.

5. BeEF

Adversaries use browser exploitation for web based apps. Hence why BeEF is a Browser Exploitation Framework capable of making classic tasks look seamless. Its user friendly GUI and practical client side attack help you to target different contexts and achieving several tasks like stealing credentials.

Features of BeEF

  • Provides API extension
  • Keystroke logging.
  • Integrates Metasploit.
  • Provides PhoneGap modules.
  • Customizes browser exploitation commands.
  • Hooks through QR codes

Pros of BeEF

  • Advanced features, like fake password manager logins and even redirects to iFrames.
  • Can bypass a victim’s firewall.
  • Offers a comprehensive network module like host discovery.
  • Highly convenient tool for demonstration.
  • Provides prebuilt web pages for several traps.
  • Its interface visualizes everything from the victim’s browser to the attacker’s log.

Cons of BeEF

  • Its basic phishing module does not work with cybersecurity employees.

6. SQLmap

Number six on our list of Top 10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source is SQLmap. Another open source penetration testing tool that automates detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws. As well as it also takes over database servers. Equally, it constitutes a powerful detection engine, niche features for penetration process, and a wide range of switches that lasts from database fingerprinting.

Features of SQLmap

  • Supports MySQL, Oracle, Forbid, etc.
  • Recognizes password hash formats automatically.
  • Supports users’ database process through Metasploit Metapreter Getsystem.

Pros of SQLMap

  • Capable of detecting several SQL injections.
  • Offers advanced features for search and enumeration.
  • Supports a wide range of database systems.

Cons of SQLMap

  • It does not have GUI. Instead, it has a command line interface and third party integrations.

7. SET

Consequently Social Engineer Toolkit, or SET, is an open source tool for performing online social engineering attacks. Ideal for situations like spear phishing and website attack vectors. Those are the scenarios that you can solve using this tool. As has been noted it works in an integrated manner and enables you to execute client side attacks and seamless harvesting of credentials.

Features of SET

  • Multi platform.
  • Provides access to the immediate Penetration Testing Platform.
  • Supports integration with third party modules.
  • Provides multiple tweaks from the configuration menu.

Pros of SET

  • The command lines have a nice format.
  • Easy and powerful.
  • Comprehensive tool.

Cons of SET

  • Since its development is on the basis of human mistakes, it is probably the weakest link.

8. Ettercap

Comparatively Ettercap is a free and open source tool used for launching Man In The Middle attacks. Also used for analysing networks and auditing security. Moreover, it can run on operating systems like Linux, macOS x, and Windows

Features of Ettercap

  • It provides the most relevant details for analysing network protocol and performing known attacks.
  • With the help of sniffing packets, one can not only find but also exploit weaknesses in the network.

Pros of Ettercap

  • An ideal tool for hackers.
  • Have both GUI and command lines.
  • Puts security systems like EDR to the test whenever necessary.

Cons of Ettercap

  • You have to be inside the network to run the attack.
  • Relatively hard to learn and use.
  • The interface is not so polished.

9. Hashcat

Hashcat is a popular password cracker tool used by both sysadmins and penetration testers. Hence quite popular among cybercriminals and spies. Advanced password recovery features let you seamlessly crack WIFI passwords or password protected documents.

Features of Hashcat

  • Supports multiple operating systems.
  • Multi platform.
  • The world’s fastest password cracker.
  • Multi hashed.

Pros of Hashcat

  • Not just limited to brute force attacks.

Cons of Hashcat

  • Does not have any GUI but has a third party integration.
  • You need to have the advanced technical knowledge to use this app.

10. Wfuzz

Last penetration tool on our list of Top 10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source is Wfuzz. With the help of Wfuzz, you can run brute force attacks on multiple elements, including directories, forms, or scripts. In short, it helps in discovering common vulnerabilities in web applications via their fuzzing method.

Features of Wfuzz

  • Capability of multiple injection points with multiple dictionaries.
  • Allows combining payloads with iterators, HEAD scans, and brute force HTTP methods (POST).
  • POST parameters for various injections like SQL, LDAP, and XSS.

Pros of Wfuzz

  • It accepts wordlists.
  • Provides documentation.
  • Enables customized configuration.

Cons of Wfuzz

  • Requires more CPU and RAM.
  • Significantly slow.

Thank you for reading Top 10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source. We shall conclude now. 

Top 10 Best Penetration Testing Tools Open Source Conclusion

In the final analysis these open source penetration tools are to be used for penetration testing. All you need to do is choose the most appropriate one based on the requirements. For this, beginners and even professionals usually select open source solutions over premium ones. In summary this is why we have developed a list for you of open source penetration testing tools worthy enough to fulfil your specific penetration testing needs.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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