Six hacking apps to test your network

The global cybersecurity situation is not going through its best period and threatens the entire technology industry. The cyber cold war that experts talk about continues at the top, while companies, administrations and critical infrastructures are increasingly pressured by that authentic digital pandemic what Ransomware has become. The section on client machines and consumption is not much better.

If the SolarWinds case is far from clear and from what we know so far it will end up becoming the most serious security breach so far this century, the Colonial Pipeline incident is another that makes the hair stand on end. How guys (presumably from Russia) can put America’s vital infrastructure on the ropes is another wake-up call to the need to invest more and better in cybersecurity.

And at the user level what to tell you. Besides of Ransomware that has become the main global threat affecting any operating system, platform or device, there is no shortage of campaigns for phishing that use identity theft and, in general, any means of introducing malware in increasingly numerous, sophisticated, dangerous and massive attacks that seek financial gain, data theft and control of equipment.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated all scenarios as employees and students have had to relocate to generally less protected home environments than business or administrative ones. A challenge to stay safe from viruses, Trojans and specimens of all conditions and for all platforms, without forgetting the increase in misinformation, fake news and, in general, the manipulation of information that some analysts consider to be another computer security problem.

Hacking apps

Although there are measures to combat the most widespread threats such as phishing or ransomware, suitable as general protection for all types of users, there is another cybersecurity strategy that more advanced users and system administrators use and that proactively opts for stay ahead of events, testing network security just like an attacker would.

Using these tools is not easy. It requires time, caution in its use and some knowledge of how a computer network works. However, its advantages are notable as they allow us to identify which areas are the “weak spots” of the network and correct them before they are the “bad guys” that discover and exploit them. Beyond large commercial developments, which we cannot even access or pay for because they are reserved for large companies, agencies and governments, these tools are commonly used in hacking (by good and ‘bad’) to vulnerable network analysis.

We remind you of some of the most used hacking applications, all free to use and some open source. Here we must make the due considerations: Use them at your own risk, for educational purposes only and to test your own network, not others for which you are not authorized.


A de facto standard that has been with us for more than twenty years and that the oldest in the place will remember as Ethereal. It is used equally in companies, educational system or homes as a sniffer, packet grabber, designed for the analysis and resolution of network problems, software and development of communications protocols.

It allows to visualize the activity of the users in the network and captured “strange” traffic related for example to a Trojan. It works over Ethernet, IEEE 802.11 or PPP networks and the captured data can be queried through a graphical user interface or a command line terminal. Wireshark is free and open source, available for Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, and others.


It is another of the reference hacking applications. Even older than Wireshark and just as interesting, this Network Mapper is one of the essential applications for system administrators. It is used to perform penetration test, it identifies the open ports or the services that are being executed, it offers the response of computers to a ping, and in general, it allows to audit the security of a network and the possible vulnerabilities.

Its popularity is such that we saw it working in several movies such as The Matrix Reloaded or Battle Royale. Free and open source, Nmap works on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.


Originally open source, it later became proprietary software, but remains free for home users with a seven-day trial. It self-advertises as the vulnerability scanner most popular on the Internet, used by more than 27,000 organizations worldwide. Nessus searches for open ports and attempts attacks with various known exploits.

For auditing purposes on your own home network, you must deactivate the “unsafe test” option so as not to corrupt the system. It works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and can run on a home computer, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment.


One of the most complete applications to detect man-in-the-middle attacks on your home network or on any LAN. It is an infiltration technique widely used by cybercriminals, as we saw in large attacks such as Logjam, the critical vulnerability that affects the TLS protocol, and that allows connections to be degraded to a 512-bit encryption export grade in order to decrypt communications.

Ettercap works on all major operating systems and you can download it from their website.

Cain & Abel

It is a tool of password recovery for Windows operating systems. It allows you to recover various types of passwords using dictionary, brute force, cryptanalysis attacks, recording VoIP conversations, or recovering wireless network keys.

Beyond its ability to recover passwords it was developed to be useful to network administrators, security consultants or professionals and can be used to evaluate the security of our network. Development is discontinued, but it still works and can be downloaded from various sites on the Internet.


It’s a web server scanner which analyzes more than 6,700 potentially dangerous files or programs and 1,250 web servers. It also checks for server configuration items such as the presence of multiple index files, HTTP server options, and will attempt to identify installed web servers and software. Scan items and plug-ins are updated frequently and can be updated automatically.

Useful considering that hackers have put web servers on their retina as a method of entry into the network, taking advantage of insecure WordPress implementations or outdated Apache servers. Nikto2 is free and open source and can be downloaded from its repository on GitHub.

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