Best Network Security Software & Frameworks for Pen-testing & Vulnerability Assessment

Nothing is worse than having an intrusion in your network perimeter and knowing that someone has had access to your filesystems and personal information. One of the greatest fears of many network admin’s and engineers is their network and computer/servers being compromised by a malicious attacker.

There is No Better way of assessing your infrastructures security and possible vulnerabilities than running an array of network penetration testing tools against your network and patching up any holes or mis-configurations as you find them.

We recommend all engineers go through the necessary steps to patching up systems, firewalls and routers in order to keep intruders out. So we’ve gone through a list of the top network security tools and frameworks to use in your process of hardening your infrastructure. We also recommend actively monitoring your network to keep tabs on systems that could possibly be using more bandwidth than necessary – these are all signals of an intrusion.

Here are the Top Network Security Tools for Assessing Vulnerabilities & Exploits:

1. Nikto


Nikto is old, however it can still detect far more vulnerabilities than other web scanners out there. Because of this Nikto has a good reputation find pinpointing vulnerabilities in web apps and old web servers.

Nikto is also extremely fast and capable of detecting up to 6400 potentially dangerous files/CGI scripts and can check for 1200 web server related problems across a span of over 270 web server builds.

This scanner offers the ability to do much more than just identify web server vulnerabilities, it can detect host information, brute force authentication forms, guess subdomains, report unusual header information, schedule and pause scans. Using Nikto’s ‘Tuning’ feature, you can also specifically target certain types of vulnerabilities like SQL injection, file uploads, remote file retrieval etc.

Official Site:

Download Link:

2. OpenVAS


OpenVAS is a framework that has been built to incorporate lots of individual security tools and services to provide mass vulnerability scanning. One reason it is so popular is because it is community built and completely free. You can run OpenVAS via CLI or with a web GUI as shown above, it’s fast and also allows you to export detailed ‘Executive’ summary style reports.

OpenVAS can be broken down into four specific functional components. OpenVAS Scanner provides the ability to scan target hosts concurrently and via SSL. OpenVAS Manager essentially provides the ability to store results via SQL, manage the scanner and schedule scans. It also offers the ability to report results and essentially is the main OpenVAS application. Greenbone Security Assistant (GSA) provide a HTTP/Web interface for OpenVAS and OpenVAS CLI provides the command line interface.

OpenVAS receives a daily update feed of Network Vulnerability Tests (NVTs) and as of June 2016 had over 47,000 active vulnerability tests. OpenVAS has been designed to support scanning large subnets and although it’s not the fastest scanner, it incorporates so many tools and vulnerability identification kits from other GPL projects it can provide excellent insight into the status of security in large networks.

Official Site:

Download Link:

3. Acunetix


Acunetix is similar to OpenVAS, however can only be used via a GUI interface, and it’s also currently a product you have to pay for. Acunetix boasts a huge amount of checks for web applications and it is known more for web app penetration testing. Acunetix can detect 3000 web application vulnerabilities and supports multi-thread scanning for fast results.

Acunetix can intelligently audit code for common vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, and even conduct automatic brute force attacks to check for weak passwords. AcuSensor technology allows you to identify more vulnerabilities with less false positives and produces an overall more accurate web assessment of the target. Acunetix is also one of the only scanners with full HTML5 support and mobile website scanning support.

You also get a bundle of built in tools for performing manual checks, these include the HTTP Editor/Fuzzer and Sniffer, subdomain scanner and site crawler which all help gather information on the target.

Official Site:

Download Link: (14 Day Free Trial)

4. Nmap (Free & Open-Source)


Everyone knows NMAP!

It is a port scanner, and one of the best due to its advanced scanning features. Aside from simply scanning you can perform more advanced recon and learn to hack like a pro with its unique features like; decoying, firewall evasion, scripting, and list imports and exports.

One of Nmap’s best features is its ability to use NSE scripts to actually discover, fuzz and exploit hosts for vulnerabilities such as the 2014 shellshock flaw. The ability to integrate scripts into scans allows you to take advantage of a huge amount of preconfigured ‘auto enumerate’ scripts that can target specific ports and services like SNMP to gather more information.

Although this tool is primarily used in CLI format from bash or command prompt on Windows, Zenmap have developed a GUI version of the tool, allowing you to use most of Nmaps features from a GUI, and it contains some nice additional features such as smart search.

Official Site:

Download Link:

5. Burp Suite


Burp suite is one of the most popular penetration testing tools for professionals. It allows advanced scanning and vulnerability identification for manual penetration testers. Burps proxy feature allows you to point your web browser at the built in proxy server, which allows for direct tampering of the http data.

Burps built in scanner lets you detect simple web application issues fast, like if you submit data via GET method, or have active SQL injection flaws in your code.

Burp also has a great feature called Decoder. Often applications transmit and receive data that is encoded as developers believe it to secure code, however it does not. Decoder can take the transmitted encoded data, and decode it back to plain text.

Repeater is one of the best features of Burp suite. You can select a request from a target and send it to Repeater to further tamper and play-around with the request by changing the data that gets sent such as cookie information.

Official Site:

Download Link:


We hope you found this article useful, and can use it to help better protect your internet facing networks from cyber-attacks. As with all technologies, if you do not understand some concepts or how to use them properly and in a manner where you don’t bring your own network DOWN, you should hire professional network security auditor or cyber security professional from an online job boards.

As of recently, there have been several Cyber Security jobs websites that are tailored specifically for Pen-testers and ethical hackers.

Cyber Security professionals are in high demand due to their extensive skill sets of pen-testing and vulnerability assessment using the programs above and many others to gather intelligence and properly document ways to patch them.

As more ransomware attacks and corporate espionage attacks consistently happen, the more these types of jobs become the center of focus for many corporations.