Although Vulnerability Assessment (VA) and Penetration Testing (PT) are both processes used to identify weaknesses in systems, networks, or web apps, they do have differences.
First, a Vulnerability Assessment (VA) scans, identifies, and reports known weaknesses. It provides a report with the classification and priority of those discovered vulnerabilities. A Penetration Test (PA), on the other hand, aims to exploit vulnerabilities to determine the level of entry. It evaluates the degree of defense.
A VA is like walking up to a door, classifying it, and analyzing its possible weaknesses. A PT is like bringing chisels, lockpicks, or screwdrivers to work on those weaknesses. VA is usually automated, while a PT is performed by a security professional.
Here is our list of the best VAPT tools:
- Netsparker Security Scanner A robust vulnerability scanner and management solution tailored for enterprises. It can find and exploit weaknesses such as SQL injection and XSS. Download a free demo.
- Acunetix Scanner A web app vulnerability scanner designed for SMBs, but can also scale for larger enterprises. It can identify SQL injection, XSS, or more. Get a free demo.
- Intruder An automated online web vulnerability assessment tool, that identifies a wide range of threats. Download a 30-day free trial.
- Metasploit A robust framework with pre-packaged exploits code. It is supported by the Metasploit project with information on a massive number of vulnerabilities and their exploits.
- Nessus An open-source online vulnerability and configuration scanner for IT infrastructure.
- Burp Suite Pro A powerful bundle of tools for web app security, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing.
- Aircrack -ng A set of wireless network security assessment tools, to monitor, scan, crack passwords, and attack.
- SQLMap An open-source penetration tool that specializes in exploiting SQL injection flaws.
- W3af A web application, attack, and audit framework. It identifies more than 200 web app vulnerabilities.
- Nikto A powerful vulnerability scanner for web apps, servers, and content management systems.
- Worthy Mentions Other tools that can help in the VAPT process: Nexpose, OpenVAS, Nmap, Wireshark, BeEF, and John the Ripper.
What is a VAPT Tool?
A VAPT tool performs a VA to identify vulnerabilities and a PT to leverage from those vulnerabilities to gain access. For example, a VA might help identify weak cryptography, but the PA will attempt to decode it.
The VAPT tools scan and identify vulnerabilities, generate a PA report, and in some cases execute code, or payloads. VAPT tools help achieve compliance like PCI-DSS, GDPR, and ISO27001.
The Best Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) Tools
1. Netsparker Security Scanner
Netsparker is an advanced VAPT solution. It automatically scans vulnerabilities in web applications, websites, and API. Netsparker uses proprietary Proof-Based Scanning to exploit an identified vulnerability and extract sample data. This process reduces (and sometimes eliminates) false positives.
- Accurate vulnerability scanner.
- Identify and test SQL injection, XSS, and more.
- Automatically evaluates dangerous vulnerabilities and proves a sample exploit.
- In-depth vulnerability reporting.
- Built-in tools: HTTP request builder, encoding/decoding, ViewState viewer, retesting individual vulnerabilities
- Built-in workflow and vulnerability management along with support for issue tracking systems and CI/CD.
Register to Netsparker to download a free demo
2. Acunetix Scanner
Acunetix uses the proprietary DeepScan to analyze and map the entire website. It also uses AcuSensor Technology to retrieve a list of all the files in the app’s directory. Finally, Acunetix scans vulnerabilities with the Automated Scan Stage tool.
- Assess more than 4,500 vulnerability types.
- Pentest SQL injection and DOM XSS Threats.
- Integrate tests into a company's SecDevOps.
- Generate security reports which are compliant with ISO/IEC 27001, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS standards.
Price and trial. Standard edition ($4,500) and Premium edition ($7,000) for multiple year contracts. Subscribe to Acunetix to download a free demo!
3. Intruder Automated Penetration Testing
Intruder Automated Penetration Testing is a cloud-based scanner that identifies vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure. It performs proactive security audits based on databases that contain the latest threats and vulnerabilities.
Intruder can assess the security of web assets by performing SQL injection or XSS. Additionally, it can also detect weaknesses such as remote code execution flaws and poor configuration, such as weak encryption and open ports.
- Managed service: Intruder’s Verified service includes manual evaluation by pen testers.
- Wide integrations: Cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP), Slack, Jira, MS Teams, and Zapier,
- Automate vulnerability management via Intruders Rest API
Price and trial. The price for a Standard license starts at $108.00/month. Subscribe to Intruder to download a 30-day free trial.
Metasploit is a powerful open-source penetration testing framework. It has become a defacto standard for exploit development and even contains a module for zero-day reports.
Metasploit does not scan for vulnerabilities, it only allows you to choose among exploits and drop payloads to any target. Fortunately, Metasploit integrates with reconnaissance tools such as Nmap (Network mapper), SNMP scanning, and more.
Metasploit provides the following modules:
- Auxiliary functions
- Post-exploitation code
Nessus is an external vulnerability and configuration assessment tool. It scans IT infrastructure, including network devices, computer systems, databases, and hypervisors— and evaluates their vulnerabilities. Nessus detects misconfigurations, weak passwords, and even zero-days.
Although Nessus is a vulnerability assessment tool, it can integrate with PT tools Hydra THC. Nessus finds weak passwords and Hydra THC performs dictionary attacks or brute force to crack those passwords. Additionally, you can also perform Nessus scans from within Metasploit.
Price: Nessus Essentials is a free limited version. Nessus Professional is a full-featured paid subscription starting at $2790.00/year.
6. Burp Suite Pro
Burp Suite is a bundle of tools designed for web app vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. Its combination of tools from the scanner, proxy, intruder, decoder, etc., makes Burp Suite a robust VAPT tool.
The most popular tool is the Burp Vulnerability Scanner, which automatically crawls web resources and audits a varying degree of vulnerabilities. Burp Intruder is also handy for carrying out automated web app attacks including SQL injections and XSS.
- Scan for injections, cache poisoning, serialized objects, and more.
- Use Proxy to modify HTTP headers.
- Scan for OOB vulnerabilities.
- Generate clickjacking attacks.
Price and download: The Burp Suite Pro, starts at $399/user/year. Subscribe to download a fully-featured trial.
7. Aircrack -ng
Aircrack -ng is a powerful VAPT for wireless networks. It is a suite of tools with a wireless packet sniffer, WPA/WPA2-PSK key cracker, packet injection, and attacks like replays, fake APs, and de-authentication. Aircrack-ng is supported by a wide range of wireless NICs and can capture packets from different WiFi standards.
- Airodump-ng for racket capture of raw 802.11 frames
- Airmon-ng to enable/disable monitor mode.
- Airbase-ng a tool for attacking clients (not APs)
- Aireplay-ng to generate traffic, which can be useful for cracking keys.
- Airtun-ng to create virtual tunnel interfaces
Aircrack-ng is free to download.
SQLMap is a popular open-source penetration tool used for identifying and exploiting dangerous SQL injection flaws. It comes with full capabilities tailored to taking control of databases. SQLMap can fingerprint databases, fetch DB data, access file systems, execute commands with Out-of-Band vulnerabilities, and more. SQL offers a fine-grain level of control to perform SQL injections.
- Support of a wide range of database management systems.
- Six different SQL injection modes.
- Directly connect to a database with default credentials.
- Powerful enumeration to extract data from databases.
- Password cracking via dictionary or automatic recognition of hashes.
SQLMap is free to download.
W3af (Web application attack and audit framework) is an open-source vulnerability testing framework. W3af is similar to Metasploit but for web applications. It effectively identifies more than 200 web app vulnerabilities including SQL injections, XSS, weak credentials, PHP misconfigurations, and more.
W3af works via a set of plugins. These plugins are categorized as Audit, Auth, Bruteforce, Crawl, Evasion, Grep, Infrastructure, Mangle, and Output.
- Web application scanning.
- Crawl plugin for site mapping with web spiders.
- Audit SQL injections and Cross-Site, and more.
- Brute-force plugins like file authentication and file brute force.
W3af is open-source and free.
Nikto is an open-source web application vulnerability scanner. It performs specific vulnerability assessments on servers and discovers dangerous files, outdated software, and other specific problems.
Nikto can scan a web server against +6700 risky files or programs, +1250 outdated web server versions, and +270 server versions with specific problems. It also fingerprints web servers and software, detects server misconfigurations, and HTTP server options.
- Vulnerability on websites using SSL (HTTPS).
- Check syntax errors in databases and key files.
- Create customizable reports for PT in txt, XML, HTML, or CSV.
- Export report data to Metasploit.
Niko is free and open source.
11. Worthy Mentions
Below are six worthy mentions that can help in the VAPT process.
- Nexpose A robust vulnerability assessment tool. Some of the highlights of Nexpose are its risk score, remediation reports, and integration with Metasploit.
- OpenVAS An open-source vulnerability assessment and management software. OpenVAS was designed for Linux systems and includes more than 50,000 vulnerability tests.
- Nmap Network Mapper is one of the most popular scanning tools. Nmap can be used for manual VAPT, first because it lets you map the network and find their open ports.
- Wireshark A network protocol analyzer. Wireshark captures packets going through an interface and provides detailed information about those packets.
- BeEF Browser Exploitation Framework Project is designed to exploit web browsers with vulnerabilities and use them to launch attacks.
- John the Ripper An open-source tool that cracks passwords. It can perform dictionary attacks, brute force, or use rainbow tables to attempt to gain access.
The tools in this post help perform Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT). Tools like Netsparker, Acunetix, and Intruder can assess vulnerabilities and provide a robust Pen Test report. Netsparker goes beyond by automatically evaluating dangerous vulnerabilities and proving a sample exploit.
Metasploit, W3af, Nessus, Burp Suite Pro, and Nikto are fantastic sets of tools that can help with VA and PT at the same time. SQLMap and Aircrack-ng are niche VAPT tools specific to databases and wireless.