The Best Kali Linux Tools and How to Use Them

Kali Linux is the most frequently used operating system by ethical hackers and malicious hackers for almost every aspect of cybersecurity. Kali includes almost every hacking tool imaginable, which means learn to use it’s a journey, not a simple skill that can be learned by watching a 10 minute tutorial.

Based on DebianName Linux distribution, Kali includes hacking tools that can be used to perform and defend against brute force attacks, wireless attacks, IP address spoofing attacks, reverse engineering attacks, password cracking, dictionary attacksphishing attacks, SQL Injection and more.

Other Kali tools are more aligned with ethical hackers using penetration testing tools, collecting network security information, vulnerability assessment, security testing and security audit. As a general platform, it also enables cybersecurity professionals to adopt an offensive rather than defensive security posture by actively detecting vulnerabilities.

What tools are included in Kali Linux?

The best question to ask is: what are the cybersecurity tools? not included in Kali Linux? While some cybersecurity toolkits focus on a small number of top-notch tools, Kali Linux is much more comprehensive. While some cybersecurity platforms integrate several different utilities, Kali Linux can be considered a complete cybersecurity superstore, offering many different tool suites.

The Kali distribution includes hundreds of tools in a dozen different categories. Some of the larger collections include the following:

  • Information gathering. This category includes tools used for everything from identifying all devices on a network – enumerating – to binding a network interface controller media access control address with an IP address to identify open ports on targeted servers. Kali Linux information gathering tools include scanners, such as NmapName and Wiresharkas well as information planning platforms that integrate the main tools, often with graphical interfaces for more complete functionality.
  • Wireless attacks. This category includes a wide range of utilities for performing cybersecurity drills – or hacking attacks – against wireless systems, including those connected by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The best Kali wireless utility is Aircrack-nga software suite including a network detector, wireless packet sniffer, and credential hijacking tools used to attack wireless networks authentication protocols, such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Protected Wi-Fi access.
  • Web apps. This category covers a lot of ground, and like everything in Kali, tools exist for almost any penetration test or red team drill involving web applications. Whereas OWASP is a rich cybersecurity platform for network attacks and defenses included with Kali, Zed OWASP Attack Proxy is just one of many utilities available to attack web applications.
  • Password attacks. This category includes standalone password cracking tools, such as Hydra, Ncrack, Hashcat and John the Ripper. It also includes utilities that help increase the effectiveness of any password cracker, such as Crunch, a program for generating word lists; Ophcrack, a program that uses rainbow tables to crack Windows passwords; and more.

This abundance of options makes Kali Linux a challenge for beginners looking for a tutorial to startbut it also makes it an indispensable resource for experienced people tester pen or hacker. Consider the information gathering category, which by some accounts includes well over 60 individual tools.

Whereas network protocol analyzers, such as Nmap or Wireshark, are perhaps the most well-known information gathering tools, they are not the only ones. Some of the lesser known ones are the best for specific purposes. For example, Maltego is an open-source utility for collecting information about targets using public websites, such as Shodanthe Wayback Machine Internet Archive, WHOIS searches and more.

InfoSploit is another specialized information-gathering tool used to scan web servers for web application vulnerabilities in content management platforms, such as WordPress and Joomla. Even more specialized is the WPScan tool, which probes WordPress sites and can detect installed plugin versions that may be vulnerable to attack.

Also included with Kali is the Metasploit framework, a more comprehensive cybersecurity platform that can be used for everything from port scanning and password sniffing, to identifying active network services and finding potentially vulnerable Microsoft SQL Server implementations . But, if you want to identify SQL servers on a particular website, including the ability to detect exploitable SQL injection flaws — then sqlmap is the utility for you.

Integration is one of the biggest benefits of using these tools on Kali Linux. Ethical hackers under a penetration testing engagement can use the Metasploit framework, through which they gain access to any of the individual Kali Linux tools built into Metasploit. Another benefit of Kali tool integration is that many security tools are designed as Unix processes that can be launched from the command line. Integrating these individual utilities into more comprehensive platforms means that users can get the same powerful results from command-line tools built into the platforms.

Gain skills using Kali Linux tools

Part of the process of learning how to use Kali Linux for cybersecurity tasks is understanding how Kali works to integrate all of the individual cybersecurity tools that a pen tester or ethical hacker might need. As stated above, collecting information is not limited to the most common packet detection tools, such as Wireshark or Nmap. And the use of these tools, especially when integrated with other platforms such as Metasploit, relies on the process of route reduction to obtain the information needed to complete the mission.

This is how Kali works best – building on the user’s experience with network security. Many general Kali tools are useful for wireless hacking, but many tools are designed specifically for action on Wi-Fi networks. For example, the Aircrack-ng suite includes password cracking tools against WEP and other wireless authentication protocols, as well as for capturing packets, creating packet payloads for attacks, and more.

But, for cases where Wi-Fi Protected Setup is used, the Reaver tool helps by performing brute force attacks against the WPS router. And, if Reaver by itself isn’t enough, Pixiewps is a tool that leverages Reaver to target a different WPS vulnerability.

Similarly, the Burp set of tools for pen testing focuses on testing web applications, with tools such as Spider, a web spider/crawler utility used to map endpoints on remote servers. Repeater is a utility to repeat the submission of a user request with manual modifications used to check if the remote server verifies submissions and to discover vulnerabilities in web applications.

Kali Linux is not only full of hundreds of different cybersecurity tools; it is a platform of platforms, operating as a suite of suites with collections of specific tool types that make it the ultimate social engineering toolkit.

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