Top 25 Linux Security Tools to Boost Cyber Defense

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In today's increasingly turbulent world, having a strong arsenal of Linux security tools is essential for protecting your sensitive information and safeguarding your critical systems. This comprehensive guide introduces you to the top 25 tools in various categories, carefully selected to provide a well-rounded approach to security on Linux.

Among the categories, we cover network monitoring, forensics, reverse engineering, vulnerability assessment and management, malware analysis, endpoint security, and web application security tools. We have thoughtfully considered each category and aligned the tools with the unique challenges they address in the cyber security landscape. This ensures you have the most effective and reliable solutions, regardless of your focus area.

As you go through these tools, you'll find they offer a powerful combination of features, ease of use, and adaptability to suit your needs. We tested almost all of these tools on the new Kali Purple. So, without further ado, let's go through the top Linux security tools that will help you keep your systems safe.

Linux Security Tools To Boots Cyber Defense

Network Monitoring Tools

Network monitoring tools are useful for capturing, analyzing, and displaying network traffic in real time. They enable network administrators and security professionals to gain insights into network device behavior, troubleshoot issues, and detect potential security threats.

Wireshark

Wireshark

Wireshark is a widely used network protocol analyzer that captures and displays network traffic in real-time. This open-source tool is essential for network administrators and security professionals to monitor and analyze network activities, troubleshoot issues, and identify potential security threats. We’ve put together a handy cheat sheet.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Wireshark provides a user-friendly interface with advanced features like filtering, coloring rules, and customizable views that make it easy to understand and analyze network traffic.

Unique features:

  • Real-time network traffic capture and analysis
  • Customizable interface with filtering and coloring options
  • Extensive support for various protocols

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Nmap

Nmap For Network Mapper

Nmap, short for Network Mapper, is a powerful open-source network scanner used to discover hosts and services on a network. It is an essential tool for network administrators and security professionals, providing insights into the devices and services present on a network, their operating systems, and potential vulnerabilities. You can see the top commands here.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Nmap is highly versatile, offering a wide range of scanning options, including host discovery, port scanning, version detection, and scriptable interactions with target systems.

Unique features:

  • Comprehensive host discovery and port scanning capabilities
  • Versatile scanning options for different network security tasks
  • Scriptable interactions with target systems using the Nmap Scripting Engine (NSE)

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Snort

Snort
Snort with Elastic (ELK) from https://blog.snort.org

Snort is a popular open-source intrusion detection system (IDS) that monitors network traffic for suspicious activity. By analyzing network packets and applying predefined rules, Snort can detect potential security threats such as attacks, intrusions, or policy violations and provide alerts or take preventive actions.

Availability

Free, Paid Options

Why we like it

Snort supports a wide range of network protocols and can be extended with plugins to enhance its functionality.

Unique features:

  • Real-time traffic analysis and intrusion detection
  • Customizable rule sets for tailored security monitoring
  • Support for various network protocols
  • Extensible architecture with plugins for added functionality

Download it here: https://www.snort.org/downloads 

Forensics Tools

Digital forensics tools are crucial in investigating incidents, analyzing evidence, and uncovering malicious activities. They assist security professionals and investigators examine disk images, memory dumps, and other data sources to reveal hidden information and reconstruct events.

Autopsy

Autopsy

Autopsy is a powerful digital forensics platform that provides a graphical interface for The Sleuth Kit, offering additional digital forensics and analysis functionality. It is widely used by investigators, law enforcement, and security professionals to analyze disk images and other data sources to uncover hidden information and reconstruct events.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Autopsy’s modular design allows users to extend its capabilities with plugins and supports a wide range of file systems and image formats.

Unique features:

  • Graphical interface for The Sleuth Kit
  • Support for various file systems and image formats
  • Extensible architecture with plugins for added functionality
  • Timeline analysis, keyword search, and data carving features

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Volatility

Volatility

Volatility is a powerful open-source memory forensics tool that can analyze memory dumps to identify potential malware or other security threats. It is widely used by security researchers and incident responders to investigate volatile memory data from live systems or memory dumps, providing valuable insights into running processes, network connections, and other artifacts.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Volatility supports a wide range of platforms and memory dump formats, making it highly versatile for various investigations.

Unique features:

  • In-depth analysis of volatile memory data
  • Support for multiple platforms and memory dump formats
  • Extensible plugin-based architecture
  • Extraction of valuable artifacts like running processes, network connections, and user credentials

Foremost

Foremost

Foremost is an efficient file carving tool that can extract specific file types from disk images, live systems, and other data sources. It is widely used by digital forensics professionals and investigators to recover lost or deleted files, providing valuable insights into the data stored on a device.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Foremost supports a wide range of file types, including documents, images, and multimedia files, and can be customized to extract additional file types if needed.

Unique features:

  • Fast and efficient file carving
  • Support for a wide range of file types
  • Customizable file type signatures for additional file extraction

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Reverse Engineering Tools

Reverse engineering tools enable security researchers, malware analysts, and software developers to analyze and disassemble binary code to understand its functionality and discover potential vulnerabilities. These tools are incredibly useful for dissecting compiled programs, reverse engineering malware, and exploring software vulnerabilities.

Radare2

Radare2

Radare2 is a comprehensive command-line reverse engineering framework that can analyze and disassemble binary code. It is widely adopted by security researchers, malware analysts, and reverse engineers for tasks such as binary analysis, debugging, and patching.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Radare2 offers a rich set of features and supports a wide range of architectures, file formats, and operating systems, making it suitable for various reverse engineering tasks.

Unique features:

  • Versatile command-line reverse engineering framework
  • Support for various architectures, file formats, and operating systems
  • Customizable and scriptable analysis workflow
  • Integrated debugger and patching capabilities

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Ghidra

Ghidra

Ghidra is a powerful reverse engineering tool developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) that can be used to analyze and disassemble binary code. It provides an intuitive graphical interface and rich features, making it an excellent choice for security researchers, malware analysts, and reverse engineers.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Ghidra offers advanced features such as decompilation, scripting, and patching capabilities, making it suitable for various reverse engineering tasks.

Unique features:

  • Intuitive graphical interface for reverse engineering tasks
  • Advanced decompilation and disassembly capabilities
  • Extensible plugin architecture for additional functionality
  • Support for various architectures, file formats, and operating systems

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Binary Ninja

Binary Ninja

Binary Ninja is a commercial reverse engineering tool with a user-friendly interface for analyzing binary code. Its powerful analysis engine and extensive feature set make it an excellent choice for security researchers, malware analysts, and reverse engineers seeking a more approachable alternative to command-line tools.

Availability

Paid, Free trial

Why we like it

Binary Ninja’s powerful analysis engine can automatically identify functions, loops, and other code structures, making understanding and navigating complex binaries easier.

Unique features:

  • User-friendly interface for reverse engineering tasks
  • Powerful analysis engine with automatic code structure identification
  • Scripting and plugin support for customization

Download it here: https://binary.ninja/ 

Vulnerability Assessment and Management Tools

Tools in this category help organizations identify, prioritize, and address potential security vulnerabilities in their systems and networks. They perform automated scans, detect security flaws, and generate detailed reports on vulnerabilities and their potential impacts.

GVM (formerly OpenVAS)

GVM (OpenVAS)

Greenbone Vulnerability Manager, formerly OpenVAS, is an open-source vulnerability scanner that can identify potential security vulnerabilities on a network. It is widely used by security professionals and system administrators to assess the security posture of their networks and prioritize remediation efforts.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

GVM offers a comprehensive vulnerability scanning solution with an extensive database of security checks, making it highly effective in identifying potential vulnerabilities.

Unique features:

  • Comprehensive vulnerability scanning solution
  • Extensive database of security checks
  • Web-based interface for scan management and reporting
  • Integration with other security tools and platforms

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Nessus

Nessus

Nessus is a widely used, feature-rich commercial vulnerability scanner that can identify and prioritize potential security vulnerabilities. It is trusted by security professionals and system administrators worldwide to assess their networks' security posture and help prioritize remediation efforts. It’s also featured in our article, The Best Vulnerability Scanners for Kali Linux.

Availability

Paid

Why we like it

Nessus offers an extensive database of security checks and is known for its accuracy in identifying vulnerabilities.

Unique features:

  • Accurate and comprehensive vulnerability scanning solution
  • Extensive database of security checks
  • Intuitive web-based interface for scan management and reporting
  • Integration with other security tools and platforms

Metasploit

Metasploit

Metasploit is a widely used framework for developing and executing exploits against vulnerable systems. It provides an extensive library of exploits, payloads, and auxiliary modules, making it a powerful tool for security professionals, penetration testers, and researchers to assess and validate the security of their networks and applications. You can find our cheat sheet here.

Availability

Free (Open-source), Paid (Metasploit Pro)

Why we like it

Metasploit's extensive library of exploits and payloads enables users to quickly and effectively test the security of their systems.

Unique features:

  • Extensive library of exploits, payloads, and auxiliary modules
  • Modular architecture for easy customization and integration
  • Command-line and web-based interfaces for various user preferences

Malware Analysis Tools

Malware analysis tools are vital for detecting, examining, and understanding the behavior of malicious software. They enable security researchers and analysts to dissect malware, study its functionality, and develop countermeasures to protect against it.

Virus Total

Virus Total

VirusTotal is a popular online malware analysis service that allows users to upload files and URLs for scanning against multiple antivirus engines and other security tools. It aggregates the results to provide comprehensive insights into potential threats, making it a valuable resource for security researchers, malware analysts, and incident responders.

Availability

Free (Web)

Why we like it

VirusTotal offers a quick and easy way to analyze suspicious files and URLs without setting up a dedicated malware analysis environment. Its use of multiple antivirus engines and security tools ensures a high detection rate and helps users identify false positives.

Unique features:

  • Online malware analysis service with multiple antivirus engines and security tools
  • High detection rate and identification of false positives
  • Web-based interface, Yara custom rules, and API support for easy accessibility and integration
  • Community-driven platform for sharing and obtaining threat intelligence

REMnux

REMnux

REMnux is a Linux distribution specifically designed for malware analysis and reverse engineering. It comes pre-loaded with a wide range of tools and utilities, making it easy for security researchers, malware analysts, and incident responders to dissect and analyze suspicious files and network traffic.

Availability

Free (Open-source), Paid support

Why we like it

REMnux provides a streamlined environment tailored for malware analysis tasks, with a curated collection of tools that simplify dissecting and understanding malicious software.

Unique features:

  • Tailored environment for malware analysis and reverse engineering
  • Curated collection of pre-installed tools and utilities
  • Easy deployment as a virtual machine
  • Safe environment for analyzing potentially harmful files

YARA

YARA

YARA is a versatile pattern-matching tool that identifies and classifies malware based on specific attributes. It allows security researchers and malware analysts to create custom rules that describe the unique characteristics of a particular malware family, making it an effective tool for detecting and categorizing malicious software.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

YARA’s simplicity and efficiency make it an essential tool for security researchers and malware analysts looking to comprehensively understand the threats they encounter.

Unique features:

  • Versatile pattern-matching tool for malware identification
  • Custom rules for describing unique malware characteristics
  • Effective in detecting and categorizing malicious software
  • Integration with other security tools and platforms

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Endpoint Security Tools

Endpoint security tools focus on monitoring, analyzing, and securing individual devices (endpoints) within a network. These are used by organizations to protect their systems from unauthorized access, malware, and other security threats.

OSSEC

OSSEC
OSSEC from https://ossec.net

OSSEC is an open-source host-based intrusion detection system that monitors and analyzes activity on an endpoint. It provides comprehensive log analysis, file integrity checking, policy monitoring, and rootkit detection capabilities, making it a valuable tool for system administrators and security professionals looking to secure their systems.

Availability

Free (Open-source), Paid (OSSEC+)

Why we like it

Its scalability and support for various platforms make it suitable for diverse environments, while its active response feature allows for automated remediation of detected threats.

Unique features:

  • Comprehensive log analysis and file integrity checking
  • Policy monitoring and rootkit detection capabilities
  • Scalable and suitable for diverse environments
  • Active response feature for automated remediation

ClamAV

ClamAV

ClamAV is an open-source antivirus software that can scan for and detect malware on an endpoint. It offers a multi-threaded scanner daemon, command-line utilities for on-demand file scanning, and automatic database updates to ensure that it stays current with the latest malware threats.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

ClamAV provides a lightweight and reliable solution for detecting malware on endpoints, making it an essential tool for system administrators and security professionals.

Unique features:

  • Multi-threaded scanner daemon for efficient scanning
  • Command-line utilities for on-demand file scanning
  • Automatic database updates for up-to-date malware detection
  • Support for various file formats and archives

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux)

SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux)

SELinux is a security module that can be used to enforce mandatory access control policies on a Linux system. Developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), it provides an additional layer of protection against unauthorized access and system compromises, making it an important tool for system administrators and security professionals.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Its flexibility and fine-grained controls make it adaptable to various security requirements, while its integration with popular Linux distributions ensures seamless implementation.

Unique features:

  • Enforces mandatory access control policies on Linux systems
  • Developed by the National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Flexible and fine-grained access controls

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Web Application Security Tools

Web application security tools are designed to discover and address vulnerabilities in web applications. They assist developers and security professionals test web applications for issues such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and other web-based vulnerabilities.

Nikto

Nikto

Nikto is an open-source web application vulnerability scanner that can identify potential security issues in web servers and applications. It checks for misconfigurations, outdated software, and other common vulnerabilities, making it a valuable tool for web developers, penetration testers, and security professionals.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Nikto provides a comprehensive solution for scanning web applications and servers for potential security issues, making it an essential tool for anyone looking to identify and remediate vulnerabilities in their web infrastructure.

Unique features:

  • Comprehensive web application vulnerability scanning
  • Checks for misconfigurations, outdated software, and other common issues
  • Regular updates to stay current with the latest vulnerability information
  • Support for various web server technologies

Pre-installed on Kali Linux.

OWASP ZAP

OWASP ZAP

OWASP ZAP is an open-source web application security scanner developed by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). It provides an easy-to-use interface for performing automated and manual vulnerability scans and tools for intercepting and modifying web traffic, making it a powerful tool for web developers, penetration testers, and security professionals.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

OWASP ZAP offers an extensive range of features, active community involvement, and integration with other security tools, making it a valuable addition to any web security toolkit.

Unique features:

  • Automated and manual vulnerability scanning
  • Tools for intercepting and modifying web traffic
  • Integration with other security tools and platforms

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Wapiti

Wapiti

Wapiti is an open-source web application vulnerability scanner that can identify and remediate security issues in web applications. It performs "black-box" scanning by analyzing the application's web pages for potential vulnerabilities, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and file inclusion, making it a useful tool for web developers, penetration testers, and security professionals.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Wapiti offers support for various attack types, ease of use, and the ability to generate reports making it a valuable tool for web security assessments and audits.

Unique features:

  • "Black-box" web application vulnerability scanning
  • Identifies SQL injection, XSS, file inclusion, and other common vulnerabilities
  • Support for various attack types
  • Generates reports in multiple formats

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Other Security Tools

This category includes additional security tools that don't fit neatly into the previous categories but remain essential for maintaining a secure environment and should be considered by Blue Team members. These tools cover various functions like encryption, file integrity checking and access control.

OpenSSL

OpenSSL

OpenSSL is an open-source toolkit that can be used to implement SSL/TLS protocols and encryption. It provides robust tools for creating and managing certificates, key pairs, and cryptographic functions. It is an essential tool for system administrators, developers, and security professionals looking to secure network communications.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

OpenSSL’s extensive feature set, active development, and support for various cryptographic algorithms make it a trusted choice for securing data and communications.

Unique features:

  • Implements SSL/TLS protocols and encryption
  • Tools for creating and managing certificates and key pairs
  • Supports various cryptographic algorithms
  • Active development and regular updates

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

GPG (GNU Privacy Guard)

GNU Privacy Guard

GPG is an open-source encryption tool that can be used to secure data and communications. Based on the OpenPGP standard, it allows users to encrypt, decrypt, and sign data, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of information. GPG is widely used for email encryption, file protection, and secure software distribution, making it a valuable tool for individuals and organizations looking to safeguard their digital assets.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

GPG’s support for various encryption algorithms, key management capabilities, and integration with popular email clients and tools make it versatile for protecting sensitive data and communications.

Unique features:

  • Based on the OpenPGP standard
  • Encrypt, decrypt, and sign data
  • Support for various encryption algorithms
  • Key management capabilities and integration with popular email clients and tools
  • Key management capabilities and integration with popular email clients and tools

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

AIDE (Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment)

Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment

AIDE is a file integrity checker that detects unauthorized system file changes. It creates a database of file attributes, such as permissions, ownership, and hashes, and compares them against a baseline to identify discrepancies. AIDE is commonly used to monitor critical system files and directories for signs of compromise or tampering, making it an essential tool for system administrators and security professionals.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

AIDE provides a straightforward and efficient solution for monitoring the integrity of system files and directories.

Unique features:

  • File integrity checker for detecting unauthorized changes to system files
  • Creates a database of file attributes for comparison against a baseline
  • Flexible configuration options
  • Support for various hashing algorithms

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Lynis

Lynis

Lynis is an open-source security auditing tool that can assess the security posture of a Linux, macOS, or Unix-based system. It performs an in-depth system scan to identify potential vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and outdated software, providing a comprehensive report with actionable recommendations to improve system security. Lynis is widely used by system administrators, security professionals, and auditors to maintain a secure and compliant environment.

Availability

Free (Open-source)

Why we like it

Lynis’ extensive range of checks, customizable scan profiles, and detailed reporting make it a valuable tool for maintaining a secure and compliant environment.

Unique features:

  • In-depth security auditing of Linux, macOS, and Unix-based systems
  • Identifies potential vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and outdated software
  • Provides actionable recommendations to improve system security
  • Customizable scan profiles and detailed reporting

Pre-installed on Kali Purple.

Conclusion

The ecosystem of Linux security tools is vast and diverse, offering many options to help you secure your systems and data. While it's impossible to cover every outstanding tool in a single article, we've provided an overview of several top tools in different categories, forming a solid foundation for your security toolkit.

Remember, the security landscape is always evolving and changing, and staying informed about the latest tools and techniques is essential. Keep learning, stay vigilant, and be proactive in your quest for improved security in the digital age. One great way to do this would be to take these courses to skill up on defensive security:

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  • Andrew DeVito

    Andrew is a Content Writer at StationX. He comes from a multi-discipline professional background with over 20 years of combined experience in healthcare compliance, financial cyber security regulations, wireless and mobile security, and threat modeling. He is dedicated to translating complex technical concepts into an easily understandable language to help you successfully navigate the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

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