A security-focused operating system is a hacker’s best companion as it helps them to discover the weaknesses in computer systems or computer networks. Whether you are pursuing a career in Information Security or working as a security professional or you are interested in this specific field of knowledge, you must be known of a decent Linux distro that suits your purpose.
Here is a list of some top Linux distro for ethical hacking and penetration testing that will surely help you to pick one that best fits your need.
It is developed by Offensive Security as the rewrite of BackTrack and tops our list as one of the best operating systems for hacking purposes. This Debian-based OS comes with 500+ preinstalled pen testing tools and applications that make your security toolbox richer to start along. These flexible tools are frequently updated and are offered for different platforms like ARM and VMware. Kali Linux is also feasible for a forensic job as it comes with a live boot capability that provides a perfect environment for vulnerability detection.
Kali is probably the best Penetration testing distribution there is.
apt-get install kali-linux-all
to install all the tools that come packed with kali
It is also a Debian-based OS that is developed by Frozenbox’s team. Parrot security is a cloud-friendly operating system designed for ethical hacking, pen testing, computer forensics, cryptography, etc. Compared to others, Parrot Security OS is a lightweight OS that is highly efficient to work with. Parrot Security OS is a mixture of Frozenbox OS and Kali Linux. Moreover, this highly customizable hacking operating system also comes with a strong community support.
Parrot Security OS comes with more tools than Kali but I found it was not that user-friendly, but it does come with a good VPN built into it to stay anonymous.
BackBox Linux is an Ubuntu-based operating system that is used for security assessment and penetration testing. BackBox Linux has a wide range of security analysis tools that can be used for web application analysis, network analysis, etc. It is fast and easy to use Linux distro that is famous among hacker’s community which comes with a complete desktop environment. The software applications provided by the OS are regularly updated with the most stable versions.
Samurai Web Testing Framework is essentially a live Linux environment that comes pre-configured to work as a web penetration testing platform. It contains multiple free and open source hacking tools for detecting web vulnerabilities. It is often known as the best operating system for Web Penetration Testing.
Pentoo is a pen testing focused operating system based on Gentoo Linux. It can be used on top of an existing Gentoo Linux installation. Pentoo is an XFCE-based distro which comes with persistence support that enables you to save all the changes you make before running off a USB stick. It comes with a wide variety of tools that fall under categories like Exploit, Cracker, Database, and Scanner, etc.
The open source Linux distribution “DEFT” stands for Digital Evidence and Forensic Toolkit. DEFT is based on Ubuntu and built around the DART (Digital Advanced Response Toolkit) software. It is preconfigured with many popular forensic tools and documents that can be used by ethical hackers, penetration testers, IT security specialists, and other individuals.
Security focused distro “Caine” is an Ubuntu-based operating system that is available as a live disk. It stands for Computer Aided Investigation Environment. This Linux distro comes with a wide range of tools to help you in computer forensics. Caine comes with various numbers of database, memory, forensics, and network analysis applications.
Fedora-based Linux distro “Network Security Toolkit” runs on 32 and 64-bit platforms. This bootable live CD was created to give you a right to use the best open source network security applications for pen testing purposes. This easy-to-use hacking distro easily converts the x86 systems into an ethical hacking machine that is helpful in intrusion detection, network traffic sniffing, network packet generation, network/host scanning, etc.
BlackArch Linux is an absolute Linux distribution for security researchers and ethical hackers. It is derived from Arch Linux, and one can also install the BlackArch Linux components on top of it. It provides more than 1400 tools that are thoroughly tested before adding to the codebase. Moreover, it is constantly growing reputation is making it popular among operating systems for hacking purposes.
I played around with this a bit apart with the large amount of tools they provide I did not like the way it looks and the user interface looks ugly. You might have a different opinion than me, all you can do is download it and play around with it yourself and see if you like it or not.
Bugtraq is famous for its electronic mailing list that is purely dedicated to computer security. It is available in Debian, Ubuntu, and OpenSUSE. The Bugtraq developer team consists of experienced hackers and developers that offer a great service for ethical pen testers. It comes with a number of penetration testing tools including mobile forensic tools, malware testing tools and other software developed by the Bugtraq-Community.
However, there are many other distributions as well that are used by many professional, but these are the mainly used distributions that are highly recommended and preferred by experienced professionals from the field. Moreover, the selection of Linux distribution depends on the purpose for what purpose it is being used.