There are a lot of reasons to choose a security-centric Linux distribution to test your network and system as in ethical hacking or penetration testing or security analysis. Are you looking? Luckily for you, there are a lot of them available for use. So let’s dive in and look at the best security centric Linux distributions.
Kali Linux is the first name when it comes to penetration testing and hacking and it is being developed by Offensive Security. It is based on Debian and is available in 32-bit 64-bit editions. You can run Kali Linux from a live disc/USB or you could install on your hard disk. It comes with pre-installed with a ton of penetration testing tools. Kali Linux previously was known as BackTrack Linux.
BlackArch Linux is an arch-based penetration testing tool so if you prefer Arch, this is the choice you must make. In fact, you can set up BlackArch on your existing Arch installation. You can also run BlackArch via a Live USB. It offers forensic and anti-forensic tools for security and penetration testing alongside its very own repository for a lot more tools.
Another top choice Linux distro for security analysis and penetration testing. Backbox is based on Ubuntu. Backbox is designed to be fast, easy to use and simple as it comes with the XFCE desktop environment. It also has its own software repository for system analysis and ethical hacking tools. Backbox also has an awesome community behind it.
Security Onion is another Ubuntu based security-centric distro. It specializes in intrusion detection, network security monitoring and log management. It comes with Snort, Suricata, Bro, OSSEC, Sguil, Squert, ELSA, Xplico, NetworkMiner, and many other security tools. With Security Onion, you can have visibility into your network traffic and context around alerts and abnormal events.
Pentoo is a security-focused Gentoo based Linux distro. It is basically Gentoo with a lot of penetration testing tools (pentoo) added. It is available as a Live CD in 32-bit and 64-bit but variants with persistence support on USB. If you prefer Gentoo, then Pentoo will feel right at home.
CAINE stands for Computer Aided Investigative Environment. It is also based on Ubuntu and is developed specifically focusing on Digital Forensics. Caine offers a complete forensic environment that is organized to integrate existing software tools as software modules with an easy to use GUE. Caine is available as a Live disc and can also be installed.
Parrot security is a security based Linux distro designed with cloud pentesting and IoT security in mind. Parrot Security OS is based on Debian and focuses on Penetration Testing, Digital Forensics, Programming and Privacy protection.
ArchStrike is a Linux hacker distro based on Arch. It provides security professionals and hackers with powerful open-sourced tools for penetration testing and security auditing operations. It allows for privacy and anonymity over the internet. It also comes with the ArchStrike repository which contains over a thousand tools for security purposes. ArchStrike used to be known as ArchAssault.
DEFT stands for Digital Evidence and Forensics Toolkit. As the name gives, this Linux distro is made with digital forensics in mind. It is available as a live CD and runs without tampering with your installed system. DEFT comes pre-installed with DART (Digital Advanced Response Toolkit) which is a forensics system for Windows. DART is available via WINE emulation.
There are a lot of other security-centric Linux distributions around, and this post looks at just a few of the very popular ones. Kali Linux is probably the most popular but you surely can’t go wrong with any of the others. When it comes to security, it is better to stay safe than sorry. Every other day there is news of a new exploit, hack or malware on the loose. There also hackers out there looking to steal your private data or financial details. Do you have any experience with any of these distros? Or did I leave out a worthy mention? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Mohd Sohail is a web developer and a Linux sysAdmin. He also loves to write how-to articles, applications reviews and loves to use new Linux distributions.