7 Best Network Security Linux Distributions: On our previous posts, we have featured several Linux distributions specifically made for hard drive data recovery and for web servers. Today, we would like to share with you another list of special purpose distros. These distributions are mainly designed to perform network security tasks such as vulnerability assessment and penetration testing in order to prevent and monitor unauthorized entry, abuse, alteration, or denial of computer network resources. Since most of these distros are available as Live CDs, you could instantly try or use them without hard disk installation.
Here are some of the best Linux distributions (in no particular order) specially made for securing computer networks:
Based on Ubuntu, BackTrack is considered as one of the most popular Linux distributions among hackers and network security enthusiasts. It was created by combining two formerly competing distros: Auditor Security Linux (based on Knoppix) and WHAX (formerly Whoppix; based on Slax). BackTrack is preloaded with a wide array of security and hacking tools that ranges from password crackers to port scanners. It also includes a sizable collection of exploits as well as familiar software like Firefox web browser.
Network Security Toolkit (NST)
Network Security Toolkit (NST) is a Fedora-based Live CD that is loaded with network security analysis, validation and monitoring software that can be utilized on enterprise virtual servers hosting virtual machines. Its main aim is to provide network administrators with a complete set of open source security tools. NST is equipped with an advanced Web User Interface (WUI) that is used for configuring network and security applications, automation, and other tasks. Among other features, it has a browser base packet capture and protocol analysis system that can monitor up to four network interfaces using Wireshark.
Pentoo is a Live CD and Live USB created mainly for penetration testing and security assessment. Based on Gentoo, it is available both as 32 and 64-bit Live CD. It features packet injection patched wifi drivers, GPGPU cracking software, and plenty of good tools for penetration testing and security assessment. Currently, Pentoo's default window manager is Enlightenment and it utilizes Linux Kernel 188.8.131.52 with lzma and aufs patches.
nUbuntu (Network Ubuntu) is basically an Ubuntu system loaded with network and server security testing tools. It features some of the most well known security and hacking programs such as nmap, dSniff, Ettercap, and Wireshark. While nUbuntu primarily functions as a security-testing platform, advanced users can take advantage of it as a full-pledge desktop distro. It uses the very fast and lightweight Fluxbox window manager.
Although this distro sounds very harmful, it can actually be very useful. For your information, STD stands for (Security Tools Distribution). Also known as Knoppix STD, this distro is a customized version of Knoppix and is intended for novice and professional users who are comfortable working from the command line. STD features a good number of information security and network management tools, which are divided into several categories such as encryption utilities, penetration tools, forensic tools, intrusion detection, packet sniffers, wireless tools, and password crackers.
Helix is an Ubuntu-based Live CD that is specially made for system analysis, data recovery, security auditing, and incident response. It runs in two modes: Linux mode (boots in native Linux environment) and Windows mode (runs inside a Windows system like a normal application). Helix is mainly aimed towards experienced users and network administrators who are working in computer networks that are constantly bombarded with high-level threats of security breaches and data loss.
Damn Vulnerable Linux
Damn Vulnerable Linux (DVL) is a Slackware and Slax-based live DVD that is intentionally loaded with broken, ill-configured, outdated, and exploitable software for educational purposes. Although DVL doesn't provide users with the usual tools for securing computer networks, it can teach and demonstrate a variety of essential security topics such as web exploitation, SQL injection, vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel and other popular user space software.
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