Penetration testing is an important process in identifying security vulnerabilities in a system. It’s also quite time-consuming to manually correct them. This is where automated penetration testing tools come in. These tools may assist with the speed of penetration testing and make the procedure more efficient. In this post, we will discuss the benefits of using automated penetration testing tools and list 7 of the best penetration testing tools currently available.
Can penetration testing be automated?
Penetration testing evaluates the security of an application or IT infrastructure by simulating attacks on it. This can be done manually or automatically, depending on what you want to achieve and how much time you have available for it. The goal is always to find weaknesses before they become serious problems that cost money in lost revenue due to downtime or stolen data.
Manual penetration testing:
Penetration testing is a time-consuming process. It involves an expert performing manual tests on your system to identify potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses which could be exploited by hackers or other attackers.
Automated penetration testing:
In contrast, automated penetration testing tools use scripts or programs to automate the process of exploiting vulnerabilities in systems.
Why use automated penetration testing tools?
So why would you want to use an automated tool rather than doing everything manually? The answer is that both methods have their place, and there are several benefits to using an automated tool.
Benefits of using automated penetration testing tools
- They can speed up the process of penetration testing – this is especially useful if you need to test a large number of systems
- They can help you identify vulnerabilities that might otherwise go undetected
- They can be used to test systems that are too large or complex for manual testing
- They can help you find vulnerabilities more quickly and efficiently
- They can automate the process of exploit development, making it easier and faster to find exploits
- They can help you develop a better understanding of how attacks work and how to defend against them
Can you only perform automated penetration tests?
No – while automated penetration testing tools can be very useful in speeding up the process of vulnerability identification, they cannot replace human expertise entirely. There will always be some tasks that require human judgement and experience, such as identifying the most significant vulnerabilities or deciding whether a particular vulnerability can be exploited.
It is also important to note that automated penetration testing tools cannot replace manual testing entirely – they are just one part of the process.
There are several other tasks involved in penetration testing, including:
- Developing new exploits
- Identifying and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities
- Collecting information about your target system (such as configuration files)
- Leaving back doors after initial exploitation
Manual tests will still need to be carried out for these. However, if you have already identified some potential security weaknesses using an automated tool then it may not take long before you find more with manual testing.
So while there is no such thing as “perfect” security software or systems design, using automated tools can help you get as close as possible.
7 best automated penetration testing tools
- Astra Pentest: This is a commercial automated penetration testing tool. It is designed to help identify vulnerabilities in systems quickly and easily. It can automatically generate a report of all your findings, which you can then use as part of your assessment process. This tool performs a comprehensive scan against thousands of known vulnerabilities and also gives remediation tips for each. It has the ability to report threats in real-time and provides a risk score to help you determine the security level.
- Nessus: Nessus is a well-known and widely used automated penetration testing tool. It uses thousands of plug-ins to identify vulnerabilities in systems and can be used for both scanning and exploitation. It is also able to generate reports of your findings, which can be used as part of your assessment process.
- Metasploit: Metasploit is another well-known automated penetration testing tool. It includes a variety of modules that can help you find and exploit vulnerabilities or generate payloads yourself.
- Burp Suite Professional: This is a commercial suite of tools designed for attacking web applications. It includes both manual and automated DAST testing tools, as well as other features like interception proxying and spidering.
- Nmap: Nmap is a free open source network exploration. It includes features for automating the process of identifying devices on a network, finding open ports, operating system versions and services running on those devices.
- Nikto: Nikto is a free open source server scanner. It can be used to find vulnerabilities in web applications quickly and easily.
- OWASP ZAP: This is a free open source web application penetration testing tool. It includes features for detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities in systems, as well as other features like intercepting proxy and spidering websites to find hidden files or directories.
These tools offer a variety of capabilities that can assist security professionals in assessing the security posture of their organization’s systems. While not all-inclusive, they provide a good starting point for organizations looking to improve their security posture with automation.
Automated penetration testing tools can help you identify security weaknesses in your systems quickly and easily. They can also save you time and money by eliminating the need for manual testing, which is often very labour intensive and expensive. These tools are not perfect – they cannot replace human expertise entirely – but they do offer many benefits to security professionals who want to improve their organization’s cyber defences without spending a lot of time or money doing so.