The way business organizations depend on decentralized connections along with the current rapidity of digital transformation has opened a lot of doors for cyber attackers. The cyber threat landscape has worsened over the last couple of years and 2022 is all set to pose critical security challenges. Understanding and implementing penetration testing is a matter of extreme urgency given the circumstances, hence, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some effective web pentest tools.
Choosing the right tools and the most capable pentesting company makes the rest of the job way easier for organizations. We will discuss what pentesting is, how good web pentest tools can make a difference, and help you choose the right one for your business.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration Testing is an offensive security exercise where security engineers simulate a controlled hack of your systems, find vulnerabilities, exploit them, and tell you how to fix them. At the end of a penetration test, you receive a pentest report that documents all the vulnerabilities your systems have along with the risk attached to each of them. The report also contains guidelines to reproduce and remediate the vulnerabilities.
How is a Pentest different from a Vulnerability Assessment?
You must have noticed that vulnerability assessment and penetration testing are coupled in the same phrase: VAPT. Sure, both VA and PT are examples of security testing procedures but there is no reason to think they are the same thing.
Vulnerability assessment is an automated process where a system is scanned for known vulnerabilities and the found vulnerabilities are assigned risk scores according to the common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS). It is usually a very quick procedure.
Penetration testing takes it up a notch and exploits certain vulnerabilities to learn more about them. It involves automated as well as manual processes. Vulnerability assessment is a part of the penetration testing process.
Why do you need Penetration Testing?
- To get a comprehensive understanding of the security posture.
- Gain tangible insight into the risk posed by each vulnerability.
- Get thorough and efficient guidance to remediation of the issues.
- Connect vulnerability remediation with business outcomes.
- Test your current security measures against a potent threat.
- Comply with relevant security standards.
Penetration testing gives an organization the opportunity to understand its own security posture – how it would fare against an actual attack. It is a necessary procedure for certain industries where a pentest certificate is essential for compliance. In order for you to conduct a penetration test successfully, it is very important to form an idea about different types of web pentest tools.
Different types of tools used by pentesters
The process of Pentesting is generally divided into five steps. The Pentest starts with planning, followed by scan, infiltration, escalation, and analysis. Each of these steps requires certain kinds of tools. We will look into different types of tools a Pentester needs to be equipped with.
You can use a port scanner to send a packet to specific ports to uncover security vulnerabilities. Ports are virtual points where network connections start or end and each port is associated with a different process. Port scanners are used to identify open ports in a network that are treated as vulnerabilities.
A vulnerability scanner is an automated tool that you use to create an inventory of all IT assets and then test them for known vulnerabilities. A security professional can use the report generated by a vulnerability scanner to identify security loopholes and categorize them by severity.
Network sniffers can monitor network traffic and information. It can be used by blackhats to ‘sniff’ traffic to steal passwords or other information. Network administrators can use it to find vulnerabilities and ensure a secure environment.
An intercepting proxy sits between the client-side browser and the internet. It allows you to monitor and alter responses and requests by intercepting the connection. It is a very important tool for web-application vulnerability assessment.
Just as the name suggests, a password cracker is used to crack passwords. There are several different passwords cracking techniques like brute force, dictionary attacks, combined dictionary attacks, Rainbow table attacks, etc. These techniques are used by both attackers and pen-testers.
The Top Web Pentest Tools in the Market
By now you have formed a general idea about the different kinds of tools generally used by Penetration Testers. Now let us learn about the best web pentest tools. The tools we list down here are all loaded with great capabilities, however, you have to choose the right ones according to your needs. If you have doubts, you can always talk to the experts.
1. Astra’s Pentest
Astra Security has been driven by the urge to simplify web application security for users. Astra’s Pentest has taken this philosophy home. This web pentest tool comes with great advantages. For instance, you can integrate CI/CD tools with Astra’s pentest suite, so whenever there is a code update, it launches an automated scan.
Moreover, you can integrate it with say, Jira or Slack, which means you can assign pentest and remediation-related tasks to your team members without them having access to the suite. Of course, the pentest suite itself allows you to connect with developers and security experts. It is like having an in-house security team, without actually having one.
Here’s what puts Astra on top of the list of the best web pentest tools
- Comprehensive Penetration Testing with video POCs and in-call remediation guidance.
- 3000+ tests to uncover all vulnerabilities along with free re-scans.
- Interactive dashboard to visualize the vulnerability analysis.
- Round the clock chat support.
- Login recorder to make scanner authentication simpler for users.
- Globally acknowledged certification.
Some of these features might overlap with offerings from other web pentest tools, that is where Astra’s relationship management, support, and goodwill come into play. They have secured companies like Ford, Gillette, and GoDaddy. You cannot miss them while looking for the best Penetration Testing Tools.
NMAP is short for Network Mapper. It is an open-source tool that helps you map a network by scanning ports, discovering operating systems, and creating an inventory of devices and the services running on them.
It sends differently structured packets for different transport layer protocols which return with IP addresses and other information. You can use this information for
- Host discovery
- OS fingerprinting
- service discovery
- security auditing.
You can use the tool for a large network with thousands of devices and ports.
So, how does NMAP actually help in security audits?
Well, when security auditors use NMAP to create an inventory of devices and to discover operating systems and applications running on a host network, they can also scan and find out their vulnerabilities to specific security threats.
For instance, if a certain version of an application is declared vulnerable, the network administrator can scan the network to find whether it’s running that version of the application and patch it up if needed.
WireShark is another famous open-source tool that you can use for protocol analysis. It allows you to monitor network activities at a microscopic level. It is a growing platform with thousands of developers contributing from across the world.
With WireShark you can perform
- Live capture and offline analysis
- Inspection of hundreds of different protocols
- Browse captured data via GUI
- Decrypt protocols
- Read live data from Ethernet, and a number of other mediums
- Export output to XML, PostScript, CSV, or plain text
WireShark is the industry standard for protocol analysis in many different sectors. If you know what you are doing, it is a great tool to use.
Metasploit is a Ruby-based open-source framework, used by both ethical hackers and malicious actors to probe systematic vulnerabilities on networks and servers. The Metasploit framework also contains portions of fuzzing, anti-forensic, and evasion tools.
It is easy to install and can work on a wide range of platforms regardless of the languages they run on. The popularity and the wide availability of Metasploit among professional hackers make it an important tool for Penetration Testers as well.
Metasploit currently includes nearly 1677 exploits along with almost 500 payloads that include
- Command shell payloads
- Dynamic payloads
- Meterpreter payloads
- Static payloads
The framework also includes listeners, encoders, post-exploitation code, and whatnot.
In the right pair of hands, Metasploit can be a really powerful tool for Pentesting.
5. Burp Suite
Burp Suite is a set of penetration testing tools by Portswigger Web Security. It is used by ethical hackers, pen-testers, and security engineers. It is like a one-stop-shop for bug bounty hunters and security researchers. Let us take a look at a few tools included in Burp Suite.
- Spider: It is a web crawler. You can use it to map the target application. It lets you create an inventory of all the endpoints, monitor their functionalities, and look for vulnerabilities.
- Proxy: As explained earlier, a proxy sits between the browser and the internet to monitor, and modify the requests and responses in transit.
- Intruder: It runs a set of values through an input point and lets you analyze the output for success, failure and content length.
These aside the suite includes Repeater, Sequencer, Decoder, Extender, and some other add-on tools.
Burp Suite has both a free community edition and a commercial edition.
Nessus is a vulnerability scanner by Tenable. It has been used by security professionals for vulnerability assessment since 1998. Their aim is to make vulnerability assessments simple and remediations quick. You can deploy it on a variety of platforms.
Here are some key features
- It helps you test for 65k common vulnerabilities and exposures.
- Helps you perform fast vulnerability triage.
- Continuously adds new plugins to protect from new threats.
- Integrates easily to the rest of the Tenable product portfolio.
Now that you have had exposure to the best Penetration Testing Tools, let us circle back to the top of our list.
Why Astra Pentest is an easy first choice
Simplicity, speed, and convenience put Astra right at the top of the list of web pentest tools. If you consider the intuitive dashboard, integrations, ease of use, and the success this company has had over the last couple of years, you realize, that it does not get any better. And yet, the researchers and engineers at Astra are on a relentless quest to make it better. Take the latest login recorder extension, for example, it makes authentication for scan behind login pages completely hassle-free for users.
From creating a game plan for the pentest, to remediating the issues, the security engineers at Astra ensure you get what’s best for your business. They have an outstanding track record when it comes to working with your developers and helping them solve the detected issues. The publicly verifiable certificate that you get helps your organization build trust.
Making the right call at the right time is what puts you ahead of your peers and this fact holds when it comes to security testing. It is impossible for you to know when a critical vulnerability will blow up in the face of your business operations. It is better to prepare and prevent than to react to a disaster. It starts with choosing the right web pentest tools and ends with you achieving a ‘safe to do business’ certificate.
How much time does it take to complete a Pentest?
It may take 4-10 days to complete a penetration test depending upon the scope of the test. The rescans after fixing the vulnerabilities may take half the time taken by the initial test.
How much does a pentest for web applications cost?
The cost of penetration testing for web applications is between $99 and $399 per month depending on the scope of the test and the number of scans.
Do I get free rescans after the vulnerabilities are fixed?
Yes, you get up to three rescans based on the plan you are on. You can avail of these rescan within 30 days of the initial scan completion.