Hacking Your Way to Better Security with Open Source Tools


In the world of cyber security, one of the most important things you can do is test your defences. This is where penetration testing comes in. In this blog post, we will discuss how to use open source tools to perform a penetration test on your software. We will also go over some basic security concepts that will help you understand what is happening during the test. By following these tips, you can improve your security posture and protect your business from malicious actors.

Important security concepts

Before you begin software penetration testing, you must first grasp the fundamentals of cybersecurity.


The most important concept is that of risk. To minimise your risk you must first identify and analyse the risks that exist in your software. Once you’ve identified the risks, you may begin taking measures to reduce them. Security isn’t a one-time deal; it’s a continuous endeavour that must be kept up to date and improved.


Another important concept is that of vulnerability. A flaw in your system or application that might be exploited by a malevolent actor is known as a vulnerability. It is important to identify these vulnerabilities and fix them as soon as possible. This can be done with the help of penetration testing tools and techniques.


Finally, educate yourself on the threats that exist. A threat is an entity that could exploit a vulnerability and cause harm to your organisation. It is critical to be aware of the latest threats and take precautions to safeguard yourself from them.

Next, we’ll see the phases of a penetration test and how open source tools can help you in each phase.

Phases of software penetration testing

There are typically five phases in a penetration test:

Planning and reconnaissance – This is where you gather information about the target system and identify the vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

Scanning and enumeration – In this phase, you scan the target system for open ports and services and try to identify the devices on the network.

Attacking – This is where you exploit the vulnerabilities that were discovered earlier.

Post-exploitation – This is where you take control of the system and extract data from it as well as leave ways to access them again such as changing passwords, changing/disabling security settings, installing malware and other backdoors.

Reporting – In this phase, you document the findings of the penetration test and provide recommendations to improve security.

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s take a look at some of the most popular open source penetration testing tools.

Different approaches to software penetration testing

There are three main approaches to penetration testing:

Black-box pen testing – In this approach, the tester has no information about the target system other than what is publicly available. This approach is more difficult but can be more effective in identifying vulnerabilities. Perform this for testing against real-world hackers.

White-box pen testing – In this approach, the tester has access to all of the information about the target system including the source code. This approach is easier but can be less effective in identifying vulnerabilities. Perform this for testing against past and current employees who could be malicious actors.

Grey-box pen testing – Here, the tester has some information about the target system but not all of it. This approach is more effective than white-box testing but not as much as black-box testing.

Why use open source tools?

Open source tools can be easily trusted as their code and resources are publicly shared. This also implies that they are open to everyone and may be customised to their liking.

They are also constantly updated with the latest features and security updates and have good community support online.

5 Open source software penetration testing tools

There are many different open source penetration testing tools available, and it can be difficult to decide which one to use. Here are some of our favourites:

1. Metasploit Framework

This popular tool contains a vast library of exploits and payloads and allows you to easily create custom modules. Use this for attacking and post-exploitation.

2. Nmap

Nmap allows you to scan networks for vulnerabilities. It is powerful and versatile when used for reconnaissance and scanning.

3. Wireshark

This is a network sniffer that allows you to capture and analyse packets. It can be used for sniffing passwords, identifying vulnerabilities and more. Use this for reconnaissance, scanning, and attacking.

4. Burp Suite Scanner

Burp Suite is a powerful web application penetration testing tool. It allows you to intercept and modify traffic between the browser and the server and also scans URLs for flaws. Use this for all the phases of penetration testing except for leaving backdoors.

5. John the Ripper

This is a popular password cracking tool. It can be used to crack passwords or hashes from many different sources. Use this for attacking passwords.


Open source software penetration testing tools are a valuable resource for improving security. They can be used in each phase of the penetration testing process to identify vulnerabilities and exploit them. There are many different tools available. Open source tools are free and reliable so they serve as a good starting point.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.