Cybersecurity

Published on March 26th, 2020 | by Bibhuranjan

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6 Essential Tools For Pen-testing Websites

There is a lot of demand for professional pen testers from almost any organization with an online presence. In fact, pen-testing expertise and services are asked by all sorts off organizations, from online giants like Google and Facebook to local city administrations or educational institutions. With this high demand for pen-testing also comes an equally high demand for resources and knowledge in the field.

What is web pen-testing

In simple terms, web pen-testing means trying to hack into a website or a web server. But things are not always that simple. Web pen-testing means analyzing, testing, and searching for vulnerabilities of an online resource over the Internet. It is a simulated remote hacking or cyber-attack targeting a system, web server, website, mobile app to find exploitable vulnerabilities.

Pen-testing is also called ethical hacking (a more popular term) because a security researcher performing such a test is using the same tools and techniques that hackers use. Only that he won’t exploit the vulnerabilities found, but will report them back to the targeted companies. And usually, a web pen-test is performed with the consent of the targeted business or organization. Very seldom is done in the wild.

If you are starting your journey into pen-testings, these are the tools you will need to level the playing field and perform professional-level tests.

1.Kali Linux

This is the operating system of choice for many ethical hackers and security researchers because Kali Linux comes preloaded with many hacking tools. 600 tools to be exact.

Some of the tools pre-installed in Kali Linux are Armitrage, Nmap and Aircrack. But not all of them are useful for web pen-testers. Some, such as Wireshark can be used only for pen-testing Wifi networks, making it useless for somebody looking to find vulnerabilities on a website.

You might also consider it a plug-and-play hacking tool.

Indeed, to use it, you don’t even need to install it on your PC or laptop. You can easily install and run it from a flash drive that has a minimum 3GB of free disk space.

Think of Kali Linux as your platform for pen-testing. It’s the OS you should choose.

2.Metasploit

The Metasploit project, or simply called Metasploit is not a web application hacking tool per se. It is a remote exploit tool used to hack into remote systems. It is used to test a web server’s vulnerability to common exploits.

Using Metasploit, you won’t hack into a website, but you will use it to find vulnerabilities and exploit the server on which the site is run.

3.Netsparker

A newer tool, Netsparker is an automated scanner that helps you scan sites and web services for vulnerabilities and flaws.

This tool automatically searches for known vulnerabilites on a website without causing any damage. The team behind Netsparker mentions on their websites that all tests are performed to only read data, not to modify it or delete it.

For example, when performing an SQL injection test through Netsparker, the test will only send read commands, not delete tables or other data-damaging instructions.

Being an automated tool, Netsparker is an excellent tool for any security researcher. Especially if you are at the start of your career because you can use its automated function to find flaws. And once you find them, you can learn and improve your hacking skills by trying to replicate them manually.

4. Cloud computing

Why would somebody need cloud computing from companies like AWS or DigitalOcean for pen-testing when all tests can be performed from a laptop?

There’s only one answer to this: increase efficiency.

Here’s how.

Once you start pen-testing, a lot of time will be spent on automated scans with tools such as Netsparker and Nmap (which you’ll see next).

These scans take a lot of time to perform. Time that you will have to sit idle and wait for them to finish. But instead of waiting, you can multi-task by moving all your scans into the cloud and run them 24-7, even while you sleep.

All cloud computing companies offer cheap servers that you can use to install Kali Linux for web pen-testing.

5.Residential proxies

Used by professional pen-testers, residential proxies, like those from BestProxyProviders, aren’t used in the wild, for the sake of using them. They are used together with cloud computing. Residential proxies have IPs from regular Internet connections, such as the one you have at home or on your mobile. And when used, the target website won’t see your IP address, but the residential IP of the proxy.

Also, they are used for avoiding blocks. Most web servers have a rate-limiting feature enabled, so when you flood the web server with multiple requests, the rate-limiting kicks-in — blocking requests from your IP address.

If you use proxies, you avoid potential blocks and rate-limits from web servers because you will rotate your requests through multiple IPs. So, the target website doesn’t know these are your requests and can’t block your IP or your access to it.

6.Nmap

This ideal tool is the default choice of ethical hackers for pot scanning. Initially, Nmap (or Network Mapper) was developed as a tool to discover devices (hosts, servers, services) on a network. But you can use it for web pen-testing and employ it for port scanning.

Port scanning can be performed remotely, and you don’t need to give it any extra input once it started. In fact, with the help of scripts, you can automate scanning and run it from your cloud server. So you don’t have to use your PC’s resources for scanning.

Another great feature of Nmap is its ability to perform version and operating system detection. This means that when you target a web server, you will also find out, under certain conditions the operating system and version of that server. So, you can better craft your attack further.

Is web pen-testing for you?

There are multiple online resources that you can use to learn web pen-testing. And the tools needed are free. So, you can easily give it a go, and with patience and perseverance, you will grasp the basics of ethical hacking. But, it’s not a perfect career. The competition is stiff, and sometimes the payout can be inexistent, or too small to make it worth it.

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About the Author

Bibhuranjan

Editorial Officer, technofaq.org I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.



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