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Is there any software or hardware that will perform penetration tests without a paid subscription? i.e. Free to use like Kali-linux etc. I would like to learn how to perform penetration tests. If there are any websites or guides that you suggest I would appreciate it.

I would like to carry out penetration tests on wireless routers and servers such as Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux devices.

Is it possible to pentest from an Android, iOS, Linux, Blackberry device?

Thank you.

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What is a penetration test?

A penetration test, or a pentest, differs from vulnerability scanning, and from vulnerability assessments.

What's a vulnerability scan?

A vulnerability scan uses automated scanning to perform breadth-first identification of vulnerabilities. This is to say that the scanning attempts to identify vulnerabilities through misconfigurations, such as leaving the Tomcat manager interface available, web applications that have XSS or SQL injection vulnerabilities, and various network and web application issues. A number of products exist for this on the market. Some are free, some are not.

This is often the first part of an enterprise information security program to identify, quantify, and classify risks. It does not go any deeper than identification of potential vulnerabilities. It is up to a human to confirm if the issues are real or not.

What is a vulnerability assessment?

A vuln assessment is often manually done by a human. This is breadth-first testing. Like the scanning done above, it does not go any deeper than identification of vulnerabilities. The difference is that a human is looking for problems rather than a scanner. This is a benefit as well as a con. The benefit is that a human is able to determine complex application logic flows and look for issues that a scanning tool cannot look for, either because it doesn't have the right signatures, or because of safety, such as a service unable to handle a scanning tool. It is not a penetration test.

What is a penetration test then?

A penetration test is a depth-first test. It includes vulnerability assessments, but goes deeper. The pentester, the human performing the engagement, not only identifies issues, but exploits them to go as deep as possible. For example, this would be not only confirming that SQL injection is present, but exploiting it to steal data, execute malicious server commands, or to modify data.

Because of this intensive process that requires human skill, only parts of the engagement can be automated. A human is very much required to perform the engagement.

So can I get hardware or software to do a pentest?

No. Tools exist for automating scanning, but not for automating penetration testing in its entirety. Kali Linux and similar distros provide tools that are necessary (eg masscan or nmap) and tools that are useful (eg metasploit), but the underlying human element is necessary to make sense of the tool output, explore the applications and networks, and exploit the vulnerabilities.

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