The Ultimate Guide to the 21 Best Ethical Hacking Tools 2023 and Beyond

Ethical hacking is testing a computer system, network or web application to find security vulnerabilities that malicious hackers may exploit. As technology continues to evolve and become increasingly more complex, new tools are needed to protect systems effectively from potential threats. The purpose of this article is not only to provide details on ethical hacking but also to inform readers of the current state-of-the-art when it comes to cybersecurity measures and countermeasures. By understanding these tools, users can stay ahead of emerging trends in both offensive and defensive tactics used by hackers worldwide. This article outlines 21 top ethical hacking tools available for 2023 to ensure digital safety and integrity.

The Best Ethical Hacking Tools

What Is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking is a form of penetration testing which companies and organizations use to protect their systems from malicious attacks, data losses, or other cybersecurity threats. Ethical hackers use tools such as port scanners, vulnerability assessment scanners, password crackers, and web application frameworks like Metasploit Framework to scan for system weaknesses to detect any security flaws that criminals or other adversaries could exploit.

The best ethical hacking tools provide detailed information on discovered security vulnerabilities. These tools should also allow users to perform automated tests remotely and locally to quickly discover hidden issues. Additionally, these tools should offer an easy-to-use interface, so non-technical users can find important details about discovered issues without excessive technical knowledge. Access to ethical hacking tools will help organizations keep their networks secure while allowing them to confidently take advantage of new technologies.

Benefits of Ethical Hacking

By leveraging advanced tools and techniques, ethical hackers are able to identify security vulnerabilities and help organizations protect themselves against malicious attacks. As technology advances, ethical hacking has become increasingly important for organizations looking to secure their data from cybercriminals and other potential threats. For Android ethical hackers, Security Gladiators have a comprehensive list of Android hacking tools that you can utilize.


These cutting-edge tools enable them to assess system configurations better, detect malware infections, pinpoint vulnerable systems, analyze network traffic patterns, map out attack surfaces, and proactively identify security gaps. Moreover, these powerful tools allow security teams to respond quickly to any identified threats by deploying countermeasures immediately.

Tools for Ethical Hacking

When it comes to ethical hacking in 2023, there are several essential tools available to security experts. Below are the categories of ethical hacking tools:

Angry IP Scanner

A network scanner can detect live hosts and retrieve information about them, such as open ports, operating system type and version, web servers, etc.

Hacking Software

This is a software designed to test and exploit networks or applications for potential security flaws. Examples include Metasploit and Nmap.

Cross-site Scripting (XSS) Detection Tools

Tools used to find XSS vulnerabilities in websites by scanning source code for potentially dangerous input fields. Popular examples include Netsparker and Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner.

Operating System Hardening Tools

These tools are used to reduce the attack surface area of an operating system by disabling vulnerable services or features that attackers could exploit. Some common OS hardening tools include Microsoft Security Compliance Manager (SCM) and Lynis Enterprise Suite. Security personnel needs to have access to these kinds of powerful resources in order to protect their organizations against cyber threats in 2023 effectively.

Below are the 21 best ethical hacking tools 2023:

1. Invicti – Web Security Tool

Invicti is a web security tool developed to help network administrators and penetration testers identify, assess and manage web vulnerabilities like SQL injection and XSS.

The main features of Invicti include:

  • Automated scanning of web applications to identify vulnerabilities and potential security issues
  • Integration with vulnerability databases to stay up-to-date on the latest threats
  • Ability to customize scans based on specific needs and requirements
  • Support for a wide range of web technologies, including HTML, JavaScript, and CSS
  • User-friendly interface with clear and detailed reports of security issues and recommended remediation steps

The tool’s user-friendly interface helps users easily navigate the scans and view highlights of their findings in easy-to-read charts. The reports generated by Invicti are comprehensive enough to share with other departments or stakeholders to get an even better overall picture of the organization’s security posture.

Organizations need reliable solutions for maintaining online safety; Invicti offers just that – a comprehensive yet intuitive solution to secure applications from malicious actors. This powerful tool saves businesses time and resources devoted to manually inspecting their systems for weaknesses and risks. Additionally, its automation capabilities ensure accurate results every time without constant supervision or involvement from staff members.

2. Fortify Webinspect – Web Application Security

Web application security is important for businesses and organizations in the digital age. Fortify WebInspect provides a comprehensive set of tools to help protect web applications from malicious attacks and vulnerabilities.

This open-source tool allows users to scan their websites, backend database servers, and custom security scanners. It helps detect SQL injection threats, cross-site scripting errors, authentication issues, and more.
The backend database server stores and manages data used by a website or application

The features of Fortify Webinspect include the following:

  • Automated crawling of complex web applications for scanning
  • Automated crawling of web services
  • Advanced static code analysis
  • Automated dynamic analysis
  • Detection of a variety of vulnerabilities

The user interface of Fortify WebInspect makes it easy to understand how each part of the program works, making it accessible even for those with no technical background. In addition, this tool offers detailed reports that provide actionable insights into any potential risks or weak points within the system.

3. Cain & Abel – Password Cracking Tool

With the rise of cyber security threats, it has become increasingly important for organizations and individuals to have reliable tools that can help them audit their password security. One such tool is Cain & Abel – a popular password-cracking tool used by ethical hackers worldwide. It provides users with an extensive range of options when it comes to detecting vulnerabilities in passwords by audit password security and gaining unauthorized access to systems:

Password Recovery

This feature allows users to recover lost or forgotten passwords from various types of hash files. The program supports multiple algorithms like MD5, SHA1 and LM hashes, as well as Windows Password Hashes (LM/NTLM).

Remote Authentication

With this feature, users can gain remote access to any system they want without having physical access. This helps reduce the risk of data loss due to malicious actors on networks.

John the Ripper Integration

John the Ripper is a powerful open-source utility designed for cracking weak passwords. By integrating it into Cain & Abel, users can quickly and accurately crack complex passwords.

Cain & Abel stands out amongst its competitors because of its comprehensive features, which make it ideal for novice and experienced ethical hackers. Its intuitive user interface also makes it easy to use, even for those who may not be technically savvy but need a reliable tool for auditing their network’s password security.

4. Nmap – Network Mapping Tool

Nmap is a powerful and versatile utility network administrators use. The tool can be utilized to discover active hosts on a given network, detect open ports and services running on them, and identify the operating system used by any device connected to the network.

The main features of Nmap are:

  • Host Discovery: Identify active hosts on a network
  • Service Detection: Discover open ports and the services running on them
  • Version Detection: Determine the versions of services running on ports
  • OS Detection: Identify the Operating System of a host
  • Network Mapping: Create a visual topology of a network

Nmap can also scan for potential vulnerabilities in installed software or applications within each host, examine packet filters and firewalls set up on the target devices, analyze various types of traffic traversing through the local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs), and track service uptime availability and response time during periods of peak usage.

5. Nessus – Vulnerability Scanner

Nessus is a well-known vulnerability scanner that helps identify security flaws within computer systems and local networks of the access point. Hackers widely use it to perform penetration testing, which involves attacking the system with various techniques to locate weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Nessus can detect and scan for any existing malicious software and applications on a network and assess hosts for potential risks. Further, it provides detailed reports of all its findings, enabling users to take necessary actions easily.

Features of Nessus include the following:

  • Network scanning and vulnerability detection
  • Detection of weak passwords and system configuration errors
  • Operating system and application patch management
  • Compliance auditing
  • Support for multiple operating systems
  • Web application scanning

Nessus has been one of the most popular tools among ethical hackers due to its ability to identify hidden threats within an IT infrastructure. With this Nessus, hackers can determine if their target’s defenses have been breached and act accordingly. They use it to check whether certain components comply with industry standards and regulations. As such, Nessus remains a powerful asset in the arsenal of modern-day hackers.

6. Nikto – Web Scanner

Nikto is a comprehensive web scanner that can identify security risks associated with web servers. It is one of the best ethical hacking tool. It scans web servers for known vulnerabilities and misconfigurations, such as SQL injection vulnerabilities or testing wireless networks. Nikto also provides detailed information on the scanned server, including response headers from the web server and details of any CGI application found running on the system. The results are presented in an easy-to-understand format, allowing administrators to quickly detect potential security issues that need addressing.

The tool can scan web servers for vulnerabilities and potential security risks

Key features of Nikto include:

  • Comprehensive Test Coverage
  • Scanning Options
  • Comprehensive Output
  • Automated Scanning
  • Multiple Platforms

Nikto has options for inserting authentication credentials into requests sent during scans so that more sensitive areas of websites can still be tested without leaving behind a trace of activity. As such, Nikto is an invaluable asset when seeking to ensure your website’s safety against malicious actors.

7. Kismet – Wireless Network Detector

Kismet offers an even more comprehensive option. It is a wireless network detector and packet sniffer program designed to uncover hidden networks and collect information about the surrounding environment. Using Kismet allows users to detect IP addresses and other important network data transmitted by devices such as laptops, phones, access points, non-beaconing networks, or those without SSIDs broadcasted. This enables an ethical hacker to gain insight into potential vulnerabilities in a system software that can be exploited through malicious attacks or cybercrimes.

Key features of Kismet are:

  • Detects networks by passively collecting packets
  • Detects wireless intrusion attempt
  • Can detect both open and encrypted networks
  • Can detect hidden SSIDs
Attempting to hack system software is illegal and can result in serious consequences

Combining Nikto’s capabilities with Kismet’s advanced features proves invaluable when attempting to hack into complex systems with extensive security protocols. With its ability to quickly analyze large amounts of data accurately, it stands out amongst other forms of detection software as one of the best ethical hacking tools in 2023.

8. Netstumbler – Wireless Network Detector

NetStumbler is a wireless network detector that uses radio signals to identify access points and uncover any potential security loopholes or network issues. By using raw monitoring mode, NetStumbler can capture packets of data sent by the host discovery feature in Microsoft operating systems. This allows users to monitor their networks for unsecured connections, detect rogue devices, and pinpoint sources of interference on their networks.

Microsoft operating system

The following list provides an overview of the features available with NetStumbler:

  • Automated detection of 802.11b/g/n wireless access points
  • Easy identification of WPA2 encryption types used within detected networks
  • Ability to detect hidden SSIDs broadcasting using low transmission power levels
  • Supports both Windows and Linux operating systems
  • Accurate graphical representation of signal strengths over time

NetStumbler is a valuable tool for anyone looking to assess their existing Wi-Fi setup or troubleshoot connectivity problems on their home or business networks. Its user-friendly interface makes it ideal for novice users, while its powerful capabilities ensure even experts can get the most out of this software package.

9. Acunetix – Web Vulnerability Scanner

Recent advancements in security technology have made it increasingly important for businesses to regularly test their web applications and network infrastructure for vulnerabilities. Acunetix is a powerful web vulnerability scanner that allows users to scan their networks, websites, and running web applications for potential threats.

This free tool offers comprehensive port-scanning capabilities, allowing users to gain visibility into the system’s dynamic behavior. Additionally, its automated crawler can detect open ports on servers and find any changes made since the last scan. Furthermore, with its wide range of integrated tools, Acunetix offers an all-in-one solution for quickly discovering and remediating security issues.

Features of Acunetix

  • Automated Scanning
  • Crawling Engine
  • Comprehensive Reporting
  • Detection of Security Misconfigurations
  • Exploit Generation

Acunetix’s reliable detection engine is capable of identifying multiple vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. It also supports cloud-based scans so organizations can easily deploy internal or external scanners without worrying about server requirements or installation processes.

10. Netsparker – Web Application Scanner

Netsparker is an advancement in ethical hacking tools that provides security and compliance solutions. The tool enables users to audit cloud infrastructures quickly and accurately by scanning for thousands of web application vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), etc.

Netsparker’s autonomous approach to vulnerability management minimizes false positives, reduces the time needed for manual tests and eliminates mundane tasks associated with running multiple scans over long periods. This allows organizations to detect website flaws before cybercriminals exploit them or search engines index them, which can seriously damage reputation and finances.

In addition, the scanner has a wide range of features, such as

  • Automated patching capabilities
  • Integration into popular DevOps platforms like GitHub
  • Automatically scans websites for vulnerabilities
  • Automatically audits links, forms, and other user input
  • Generates detailed reports of the scan results
  • Automatically retests fixed issues
  • Automatically generates proof of exploit to verify vulnerabilities

11. Intruder – Automated Vulnerability Scanner

The Intruder is an ethical hacking tool that provides automated vulnerability scanning capabilities for computer networks. It allows ethical hackers to quickly and accurately identify weaknesses in their systems with minimal effort, providing actionable insights into the security posture of a network. The Intruder has a command line interface, making it easy to use and configure by experienced users and beginners.

Additionally, its ability to scan entire subnets can help organizations save time looking for possible targets across multiple networks. Some of its key features include:

  • Automated scans of any target within minutes
  • Comprehensive reporting containing detailed information about discovered issues
  • Ability to review current configuration settings against industry best practices
  • Intuitive web-based dashboard displaying real-time data analysis


By leveraging Intruder’s automated vulnerability scanning capabilities, ethical hackers can proactively assess potential risks before they become exploited by malicious actors. This helps them stay one step ahead when ensuring the safety of their computer networks.

12. Metasploit – Exploit Framework

The MetaSploit is one of the most popular and widely used ethical hacking software tools, offering a comprehensive exploit framework for hackers worldwide. This versatile tool provides various features that allow ethical hackers to identify vulnerabilities in their system’s security architecture while providing users with powerful exploitation capabilities.

The Metasploit Project was first released as open-source software, allowing it to quickly become a favored choice among ethical hackers who need a reliable and efficient hacking tool. The framework is designed to be intuitively operated by any user, allowing them to access its wide range of exploits easily – all tailored towards different applications or systems. It can even be used for non-technical operations such as social engineering attacks, making it invaluable for many projects.

Features of Metasploit are:

  • Automated exploitation of known vulnerabilities
  • Ability to detect and exploit vulnerabilities in remote systems
  • Supports various payloads for various exploit types
  • Ability to control and monitor compromised systems remotely
  • Ability to create custom payloads

This personalizable platform offers scalability options from small-scale penetration tests performed on single machines to more complicated ones involving multiple networks. As cyberattacks evolve over time, Metasploit will remain key for ethical hackers seeking effective ways to secure their systems against malicious actors.

13. Aircrack-Ng – Wireless Security Tool

This wireless security tool was developed to monitor networks and analyze packets through ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) Network Path Analysis. In addition to these two popular programs, various other computer programs are designed specifically for ethical hacking.

Features of Aircrack-Ng include:

  • Detects and cracks WEP and WPA-PSK keys
  • Supports various operating systems such as Linux, Windows and Mac OS X
  • Supports all wireless network adapters that support raw monitoring mode
  • Automatically saves key in a plain-text file
  • It can be used to perform Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

Centralized program management helps users keep track of their activities more easily, allowing them to better monitor and protect vulnerable systems from malicious attacks. With an increasing reliance on technology due to the rapid digitalization of business processes across industries, organizations must have access to robust ethical hacking tools like Aircrack-Ng, which can help prevent cybercrime risks efficiently.

14. Wireshark – Network Protocol Analyzer

Wireshark is a powerful network protocol analyzer that can be part of an ethical hacker’s toolkit. It can capture and analyze data packets traveling over networks, allowing users to gain insights into the security posture of a computer system or even entire distributed cracking networks.

Wireshark enables hackers to detect potential vulnerabilities, such as misconfigurations, brute force attacks, and malicious activities.

The features of Wireshark include:

  • Monitor any operating system running on various devices connected to the same network
  • Capture traffic from live connections with numerous protocols supported by Wireshark
  • Utilize filters for quickly locating relevant information within captured packets and decrypted SSL/TLS sessions

These capabilities make it easy for ethical hackers to evaluate weaknesses in their own systems or those of another organization during penetration tests or other security assessments defined in an ethical hacking course. With its features and versatility, Wireshark is invaluable for identifying vulnerabilities and detecting threats in 2023.

15. OpenVAS – Vulnerability Scanner

OpenVAS is a vulnerability scanner used by ethical hackers. It allows for basic network scans and detects critical vulnerabilities on various systems, including Mac OS. OpenVAS can be set up easily and quickly to scan the entire network or only specific hosts, helping security professionals identify any potential risks in their environment.

Below are the main features of OpenVAS:

  • Advanced Scanning Capabilities
  • Ease of Use
  • Centralized program management
  • Ability to create custom reports
  • Vulnerability Database

The installation process is simple and allows users to customize settings based on particular needs or requirements. In addition, OpenVAS provides advanced features like asset tagging and vulnerability prioritization—both useful when identifying high-risk items. The software also offers continuous monitoring services to notify administrators whenever new threats are identified within their networks. With these tools, organizations can take proactive steps towards keeping their data secure while gaining valuable insights into their system’s performance over time.

16. SQLMap – SQL Injection Tool

SQLMap is a versatile open-source tool for detecting, exploiting, and gaining access to backdoors on vulnerable SQL injection systems. The tool automatically identifies data sources behind an application’s front-end interface and then directly interrogates databases through their respective query languages.

SQLMap provides detailed information about the target system, including tables and columns hosted within the database and any user accounts that may be present. Additionally, it has features that can exploit vulnerabilities, such as:

  • Database Enumeration
  • Listing all host databases
  • Retrieving table names
  • Fetching column names of selected tables
  • Exploitation Techniques
  • Extracting contents of arbitrary files from file-system
  • Running operating system commands via injected code
  • Accessing the server’s local network with port scanning capabilities
  • Post-Exploitation Tactics
  • Capturing screenshots of web pages visited during the exploitation process;
  • Downloading complete web pages or parts of them
  • Brute forcing passwords using dictionary attacks or MD5 hashes cracking

SQLMap is one of the most powerful security assessment tools available today, offering extensive penetration testing capabilities for discovering potential threats hidden within targeted computer environments which makes it an essential component when selecting from among the best ethical hacking tools.

17. Ettercap – Network Security Tool

Ettercap is a comprehensive suite of network security analysis and penetration testing tools. This open-source tool provides an easy way to detect hosts on the same subnet, intercept traffic between systems, scan for vulnerabilities, launch man-in-the-middle attacks, analyze packet data and much more. It can protect networks from malicious activities such as unauthorized access or eavesdropping.

Ettercap also enables users to monitor wireless networks and identify weak points in their security infrastructure. In addition to its capabilities as a powerful network analyzer, Ettercap is often used by ethical hackers because it allows them to quickly assess system vulnerabilities and potential attack vectors without having extensive knowledge of networking protocols or complex manual configuration processes. Furthermore, its intuitive graphical user interface makes it easy to use even for those without hacking experience.

The main features of Ettercap include the following:

  • Full-featured sniffer for Man-in-the-Middle attacks
  • Supports active and passive dissection of many protocols
  • Flexible sniffing of live connections
  • Allows injection of arbitrary data into a connection
  • Supports filtering and manipulation of data using the Lua scripting engine

18. Maltego – Intelligence Gathering Tool

Maltego is a powerful open-source intelligence-gathering tool that has been gaining popularity since its initial release. This tool combines data from disparate sources to provide an expansive overview of relationships between entities, allowing users to quickly and accurately identify potential threats or opportunities. It utilizes the power of machine learning algorithms to locate hidden connections across multiple domains, including the internet, dark web, social networks, databases and other services.

The main features of Maltego include:

  • Automated Intelligence Gathering
  • Network Mapping
  • Data Mining
  • Visual Analysis
  • Reporting

Providing visibility into previously unseen associations among objects allows for more efficient threat analysis and penetration testing of systems. Maltego’s user interface provides intuitive navigation with drag-and-drop functionality, which helps simplify complex tasks such as domain takeovers or large-scale phishing campaigns.

Its wide range of specialized modules allows access to public records, leaked credentials and exploit repositories – making it possible to detect malicious activity before it can cause lasting damage. This makes Maltego an indispensable tool for security professionals looking to stay ahead of evolving cyber threats and maintain the integrity of their networks.

19. Burp Suite – Web Application Security Tool

Burp Suite is a powerful tool for those looking to stay ahead of these threats by testing web applications for security flaws that can be exploited. Burp Suite offers a comprehensive range of features designed for ethical hackers, allowing them to scan networks, intercept requests and responses between their browser and application servers, detect vulnerabilities, and even help with manual exploitation tasks as needed.

Key features of Burp Suite include:

  • Intercepting proxy to modify requests and responses
  • Automated vulnerability scanning
  • Support for customizable scanning policies
  • Extensibility through the use of plugins
  • Detailed reporting and logging capabilities

With its easy-to-use interface, customizable options, and advanced capabilities such as automation support and reporting tools, Burp Suite provides an essential resource for any organization facing cybersecurity challenges.

20. John the Ripper – Password Cracking Tool

John the Ripper is another indispensable ethical hacking utility. This open-source password cracker has been around SINCE 1996 and continues to be improved upon by its community of users. An essential weapon in any hacker’s arsenal; here are some reasons why:

  • It can run on multiple platforms, such as macOS, Linux, BSD and Windows
  • Its cracking modes include dictionary attacks with user-defined rules, brute force attacks and rainbow tables
  • Password hash formats that can be broken include DES/BSDI crypt(), MD5, SHA-1 and Blowfish
  • Users have access to pre-built packages for quick installation without having to compile from source code
  • The program supports GPU acceleration through OpenCL or CUDA to increase cracking speed

John the Ripper is an effective way to penetrate passwords quickly and efficiently when attempting to gain unauthorized access to systems. Through this software’s many capabilities, hackers can take advantage of weaknesses found in various authentication mechanisms. Its easy setup process and customizable options provide versatile solutions for solving complex cryptographic challenges. John the Ripper allows attackers to test their systems against potential vulnerabilities before launching an attack on targets.

21. Angry IP Scanner – Network Scanning Tool

Angry IP Scanner is a powerful open-source network scanning tool for Windows, MacOS and Linux. This program’s basic functionality includes port scans and ping sweeps across an entire subnet or range of IP addresses. It can also retrieve information about hosts, such as hostname, MAC address and operating system type.

Moreover, Angry IP Scanner lets users quickly detect active services running on each identified device to obtain a comprehensive overview of the given LAN or WAN environment. This ability makes it particularly useful for security professionals who must probe networks for malicious activity or unsecured ports that could be exploited.

More advanced features include

  • Reverse DNS lookups
  • Customizable scan frequency settings
  • Integration with popular remote access tools like SSH and VNC
  • Support for proxies and authentication mechanisms.
The versatility of Angry IP Scanner makes it one of the most popular network scanners amongst ethical hackers today – providing them with an effective means of reconnaissance prior to launching attacks against vulnerable systems within a given target environment.


Network vulnerabilities can leave systems open to cyber attacks

Organizations can protect their networks and data from potential threats by selecting 21 ethical hacking tools from this list and implementing them accordingly. This will go a long way in ensuring that confidential information remains secure and private, allowing companies to remain competitive in an increasingly digitalized world. With ethical hacking courses available and these tools at their disposal, businesses have the power to be proactive about protecting their network infrastructure by identifying vulnerabilities before they are exploited. Many ethical hacking tools are available, but it is impossible to talk about them all at once.

Damien Mather Damien is a cybersecurity professional and online privacy advocate with a bachelor of Computer Science. He has been in the industry for 20+ years and has seen the space evolve far bigger than he ever thought. When he is not buried in his research or going through code, he is probably out Surfing or Camping and enjoying the great outdoors. 
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