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Top 10 Best Operating Systems (OS) for Ethical Hacking in 2024

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5th Jun, 2023
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Top 10 Best Operating Systems (OS) for Ethical Hacking in 2024

Ethical hacking is the authorised practice of identifying vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks to strengthen their security. To effectively conduct ethical hacking, it is crucial to have the best hacking OS tailored for this purpose.

A sound operating system is essential for ethical hacking due to its specialised tools, utilities, and frameworks that facilitate efficient and effective penetration testing. The best operating system for hacking will offer a comprehensive set of features that enable ethical hackers to enhance system security.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hacking, commonly known as white hat hacking or penetration testing, involves the authorised and legitimate practice of identifying weaknesses in computer systems, networks, and software applications. It employs techniques similar to those used by malicious hackers, but its purpose is to enhance cybersecurity.

Ethical hackers simulate real cyber-attacks to uncover potential vulnerabilities and security flaws, providing recommendations to fortify system defences.

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Why Do You Need a Specialised Operating System for Ethical Hacking?

Ethical hackers require the best OS for hacking to perform their tasks effectively and efficiently. Operating systems designed for ethical hacking are ideal for this purpose. They provide a wide array of tools, specifications, and frameworks for ethical hacking operations like vulnerability assessment, penetration testing etc.

These operating systems offer features such as network scanning, packet analysis, password cracking, exploit development, and forensic analysis, which are essential for identifying and addressing security weaknesses.

As an enthusiast in this field, you need to know about the hacking operating system suited to your needs and consider taking up an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Computer Science from LJMU.

Top 10 Operating Systems for Ethical Hacking

Software developers opt for the best hacking operating system for ethical hacking due to their pre-configured comprehensive toolsets, utilities, and frameworks.

They have been listed below:

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is widely recognised as the top Linux-based operating system for ethical hacking and penetration testing. It is meticulously crafted to deliver an extensive array of essential tools and utilities required for comprehensive security assessments. These encompass various critical tasks, such as network scanning, vulnerability assessment, password cracking, and forensic analysis.

Parrot Security OS

Parrot Security OS is another favoured operating system for ethical hacking and penetration testing. It offers a complete suite of features and tools for conducting thorough security assessments. With its user-friendly interface, extensive documentation, and strong community support, it caters to the needs of both novice and experienced hackers.

BlackArch Linux

As one of the best Linux for hacking, BlackArch Linux is a specialised operating system that delivers a vast collection of penetration testing and security auditing tools. It is a lightweight and versatile hacking environment built upon Arch Linux. Software developers prefer BlackArch Linux for its comprehensive tools and flexibility to accommodate various hacking tasks.

BackBox

BackBox is an operating system based on Linux, purposefully created to cater to security assessments and penetration testing needs. It is acknowledged for its straightforwardness and interface that is easy to navigate. BackBox offers various network analysis tools, web application testing, and vulnerability assessment.

DEFT Linux

Considered one of the best Linux operating systems for hacking, DEFT Linux is a Linux distribution developed for digital forensics and incident response. While its primary focus lies in forensic analysis, it also incorporates several tools for ethical hacking and penetration testing. Software developers often rely on DEFT Linux for its forensic capabilities and aid in gathering evidence during security assessments.

Samurai Web Testing Framework

Samurai Web Testing Framework is a live Linux environment for web application penetration testing. This hacking OS encompasses open-source tools dedicated to web application security. It provides software developers a comprehensive platform to assess and secure web applications.

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Pentoo Linux

Pentoo Linux, built on the Gentoo platform, is a well-known distribution extensively used for security assessments and penetration testing. It presents notable advantages in terms of adaptability and versatility, empowering software developers to personalise the operating system to suit their unique needs. Pentoo Linux is highly regarded for its vast collection of hacking tools and notably stands out for its cutting-edge network and wireless penetration testing capabilities.

Network Security Toolkit (NST)

NST is another operating system held in high regard by ethical hackers. As a Linux-based OS, it offers a variety of tools for security analysis, network monitoring, and traffic sniffing. This hacking OS offers a user-friendly web interface that helps simplify network security tasks for effortless management and configuration.

Cyborg Hawk Linux

Cyborg Hawk Linux is a Ubuntu-based operating system developed explicitly for ethical hacking, penetration testing, and digital forensics. It offers extensive tools and utilities for various security assessment tasks. Cyborg Hawk Linux is recognised for its comprehensive toolset and emphasis on automation and efficiency. You can learn more about this field by enrolling on a Full Stack Software Development Bootcamp.

ArchStrike

ArchStrike is an Arch Linux-based operating system tailored for ethical hacking and penetration testing. It offers an extensive selection of up-to-date hacking tools and prioritises simplicity and performance. ArchStrike is favoured by software developers due to its lightweight nature and the availability of bleeding-edge tools.

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Comparison of Top Operating Systems for Ethical Hacking

Kali Linux

Toolset and Software Packages:Wide range of tools for ethical hacking and penetration testing
Ease of Use and User Interface: Very user-friendly
Hardware Compatibility: Compatible
Documentation and Community Support: Yes
Stability and Reliability: Highly stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: Has package manager and repositories
Security and Anonymity Features: Yes
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Powerful and resource-intensive

Parrot Security OS

Toolset and Software Packages:Wide range of tools for digital forensics
Ease of Use and User Interface: Very user-friendly
Hardware Compatibility: Compatible
Documentation and Community Support: Yes
Stability and Reliability: Highly stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: Provides customisation options
Security and Anonymity Features: Built-in anonymity tools
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Lightweight and moderately powerful

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BlackArch Linux

Toolset and Software Packages: Wide range of tools for security auditing
Ease of Use and User Interface: Very user-friendly
Hardware Compatibility: Compatible
Documentation and Community Support: Yes
Stability and Reliability: Highly stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: Provides customisation options
Security and Anonymity Features: Built-in anonymity tools
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Lightweight and moderately powerful

BackBox

Toolset and Software Packages: Wide range of tools for ethical hacking and penetration testing
Ease of Use and User Interface: Very user-friendly
Hardware Compatibility: Compatible
Documentation and Community Support: Yes
Stability and Reliability: Highly stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: Provides customisation options
Security and Anonymity Features: Built-in anonymity tools and encryption
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Lightweight and resourceful

DEFT Linux

Toolset and Software Packages: Wide range of tools for incident response and digital forensics
Ease of Use and User Interface: Very user-friendly
Hardware Compatibility: Compatible
Documentation and Community Support: Yes
Stability and Reliability: Generally stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: Provides limited customisation options
Security and Anonymity Features: Less security
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Smooth and optimised performance

Samurai Web Testing Framework

Toolset and Software Packages: Wide range of tools only for web application penetration testing
Ease of Use and User Interface: Requires technical expertise to navigate
Hardware Compatibility: Limited compatibility
Documentation and Community Support: Limited community support
Stability and Reliability: Generally stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: Provides limited customisation options
Security and Anonymity Features: Less security and anonymity
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Lightweight, optimised and resourceful

Pentoo Linux

Toolset and Software Packages: Wide range of tools for penetration testing, and wireless assessment
Ease of Use and User Interface: Requires some familiarity to navigate
Hardware Compatibility: Limited compatibility
Documentation and Community Support: Decent community support
Stability and Reliability: Generally stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: High-level customisation options
Security and Anonymity Features: Built-in anonymising networks and encryption tools
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Highly resourceful

Network Security Toolkit (NST)

Toolset and Software Packages: Wide range of tools for network monitoring, analysis, and security assessment
Ease of Use and User Interface: Very easy to navigate
Hardware Compatibility: High compatibility
Documentation and Community Support: Good community support
Stability and Reliability: Highly stable and reliable
Customisability and Flexibility: High-level customisation options
Security and Anonymity Features: Enhanced security
Performance and Resource Utilisation: Highly resourceful and optimised

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How to Choose the Right Operating System for Ethical Hacking?

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Selecting the best operating system for hacking requires careful evaluation of several factors. By thoughtfully considering the following factors, you can make an informed decision and select the appropriate OS that suits your specific needs in ethical hacking:

  • Compatibility with prevalent hacking tools and software: The OS should support a wide array of commonly used frameworks, programming languages, and hacking tools.
  • Security features should be a top priority: Look for an OS that offers robust, in-built security measures, including access controls, encryption, and secure communication protocols. Regular updates and patches are vital to address emerging vulnerabilities and threats proactively.
  • Evaluate the stability and performance of the OS: Ethical hacking necessitates a reliable and steady platform for rigorous security assessments. Seek out an OS known for its stability and minimal downtime.
  • User-friendliness is crucial: Opt for an OS with an intuitive user interface and comprehensive documentation that aids learning and troubleshooting. Additionally, consider the availability of a supportive community that can offer guidance and assistance.
  • Personal familiarity and expertise with different OS options: Choosing an OS that aligns with your existing knowledge and skills will enhance your efficiency and effectiveness as an ethical hacker.

Features to Look for in an Operating System for Ethical Hacking

When deciding on the best operating system for hacking, it is important to consider several essential features so you can settle for one that offers the necessary tools and capabilities to engage in ethical hacking activities proficiently.

  • Compatibility: Ensure the OS supports widely used hacking tools, frameworks, and programming languages commonly employed in ethical hacking.
  • Security: Prioritise an OS that offers strong built-in security measures, such as access controls, encryption, and secure communication protocols, to safeguard your hacking endeavours and protect sensitive information.
  • Stability and Performance: Look for an OS recognised for its stability and reliability since ethical hacking necessitates a consistent and trustworthy platform for conducting thorough security assessments.
  • User-Friendliness: Choose an OS with an intuitive user interface and comprehensive documentation that promotes ease of use, simplifies learning, and caters to novices and experienced hackers.
  • Community Support: Consider an OS with an active and supportive community that can be a valuable resource for troubleshooting, guidance, and knowledge sharing.
  • Regular Updates: Opt for an OS that regularly receives updates and patches to stay ahead of emerging vulnerabilities and ensure the integration of the latest security enhancements.
  • Customisation Options: Look for an OS that provides opportunities for customisation and flexibility, enabling you to tailor it to your specific requirements and preferences as an ethical hacker.
  • Virtualisation Support: Consider an OS that supports virtualisation technologies, allowing the creation of isolated environments for testing and experimentation.

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Conclusion

Ethical hacking is a legitimate and crucial practice of identifying computer systems and network vulnerabilities to enhance security. Using the best OS for hacking is a mandate to carry out ethical hacking successfully. To learn more about the fundamentals of ethical hacking, enrolling in an Executive PG Programme in Full Stack Development from IIITB, offered by upGrad, is highly recommended. It equips individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in software development, including full-stack development, which is in high demand in the industry.

FAQs

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Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Which is the best operating system for hacking?

Kali Linux is considered to be the best operating system for hacking. It is Debian-based and is developed primarily for digital forensics and penetration testing.

2Which OS is the safest?

Some of the best operating systems that provide top-tier security measures are Qubes OS, macOS Monterey, Windows 1, Whonix, OpenBSD, and others.

3Is Parrot OS ideal for ethical hacking?

Parrot Security OS is a Linux-based OS released in 2013 for penetration testers and ethical hackers and is held in high regard for authorised hacking.