Hackers are everywhere these days, not just in the movies but in real life too, doing their best to wreak havoc for fun or profit or who knows what other reasons. So it is now all the more important to find the vulnerabilities in your computer networks and servers so you can patch them before the hackers find their way in. To that end there are a number of great security scanning tools, software and even hardware tools which every serious technician should get to grips with to become competent pentesters (it also looks good on your CV!).
Some vulnerability scanners are pretty much click & run and will do their thing then report back to you with their findings. Others are much more complex and you can develop your own custom exploits with them allowing you to really attack a system even if it is not a standard setup.
While many hackers are what is known as ‘script kiddies’ who just run the pentesting scripts created by others, there is certainly no shortage of very skilled hackers that are more than capable of developing their own custom attacks and so you should make every effort to learn the tools which they use and learn how to defend against them.
Any sysadmin who has looked at logs for more than a minute (and what sysadmin hasn’t wiled away many an hour trawling through the logs on numerous occasions?) will be familiar with the endless stream of automated attempts at logging in to a server, whether by ssh, ftp, a web based admin panel or others. You can watch in real time as the hackers tool goes through all the usual patterns trying to find a way in and hopefully they fail because you have adequately secured your systems and/or they are looking for things which don’t exist on your system. They don’t just try guess passwords or scan ports of course, many are looking for sql injections or other weaknesses in popular web applications as they provide a very easy way in when left unpatched as they so often are.
Metasploit is one of the best known and most popular tools for pentesting as it provides a mature and highly advanced platform for exploits which caters to all levels of hacker.
IBM also offers security software in the form of QRadar Vulnerability Manager which they say “proactively discovers network device and application security vulnerabilities, adds context and supports the prioritization of remediation and mitigation activities.” and is as expensive as it sounds. (as you’d expect from IBM).
On the hardware side there are some nice “toys” for security techs to play with such as those made by Pwnie Express – the Pwn Pad for example is a tablet customized for pen testers. It features an Android frontend and a Kali backend and is packed with hacking tools ready to run with the swipe of a finger. Of course you could just install Kali Linux (formerly Backtrack) on your own devices but it wont have the same catchy name as the Pwn Pad.
For a list of scanning apps you can check out this page which has plenty to assuage the desires of the most ardent hacker.
To learn how to use the many pentesting tools out there you can do a course such as Certified Ethical Hacker or those offered by various security companies such as Offensive Security (who also make Kali Linux). Doing suitable training will naturally help you get up to speed far faster so you will be better prepared to deal with the cyber threats to your business.