Top Web Application Penetration Testing Tools

Table of Contents

Web application penetration testing is the process of testing web applications to find security vulnerabilities that a malicious attacker could exploit. Penetration testers use a variety of web penetration tools to identify and help fix these vulnerabilities. In this blog post, we will present the top, well-known web penetration testing tools on the market, from Burp Suite and SQLMap to Iron Wasp and Grabber. The objective is to give you a quick overview of each tool, highlighting what it is, what it does, and what are some of its key benefits.

Burp Suite

As an all-in-one platform for testing the security of web applications, BurSuite can be used for every stage of the testing process, including reconnaissance, scanning, enumeration, brute-forcing, and exploitation. Some of its key features include an intruder tool for performing automated attacks, a repeater tool for replaying and modifying requests, and a proxy tool for intercepting traffic. All these tools can be used to find a wide range of vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting, and XXE injection flaws. Burp Suite is easy to use and intuitive, even for novice pentesters, and it integrates a lot of other tools, which makes the testing process smoother. A smoother process means less time pentesting with better results. Burp Suite’s main component is Burp Proxy, which acts as an intermediary between the browser and the target web applications.

Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

ZAP or Zed Attack Proxy is a web application security testing tool that is used to find several security vulnerabilities in web apps during the development and testing phase. It is a multi-platform tool that is open source and has a user-friendly GUI. Experts and newbies can both use it with ease. ZAP supports command-line access for more advanced users. As one of the most famous OWASP projects, ZAP has also been awarded the flagship status. ZAP is written in Java and can be used to intercept a proxy for manually testing webpages. Some of the vulnerabilities that it identifies are application error disclosure, cookies missing HttpOnly flag, missing anti-CSRF tokens and security headers, private IP disclosure, the session ID in URL rewrite, SQL injection, and XSS injection. Its key features include automatic scanning, ease of use, multi-platform support, rest-based API, authentication support, and the use of traditional and powerful AJAX spiders.


Automating the process of detecting and utilizing SQL injection vulnerability in a website’s database, SQLMap is entirely free to use. The security testing tool comes with a powerful testing engine, capable of supporting 6 types of SQL injection techniques, among which are the Boolean-based blind, error-based, out-of-band, stacked queries, time-based blind, and UNION query types. Among its key benefits, SQLMap automates the process of finding SQL injection vulnerabilities, can be used for security testing on a website, and has a robust detection engine. SQLMap is also capable of security testing a website and supports a range of databases, including MySQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL. This makes it a powerful and versatile tool for web application security testing.


As an open-source web server and web application scanner, Nitko is a very comprehensive tool. It scans for more than 6,700 potentially dangerous files and CGIs, and over 12,500 versions of servers. It can also identify outdated versions of over 1,200 servers and detect the presence of over 3,600 vulnerable CGIs. Its key features include the ability to scan multiple ports at once, SSL support, IDS evasion techniques, and false-positive reduction. Overall, Nikto is a very powerful and versatile tool that can be used for a wide range of web application security testing tasks, ranging from simple reconnaissance to more complex tasks such as fingerprinting and finding vulnerable CGIs. Nikto owes its name to the Greek mythological figure who was slain by Hercules.


DirBuster is a Java-based directory and file brute-forcing tool that can be used to find resources that are not linked or known (i.e., hidden) by the web application. It does this by looking for directories and files in the web server’s document root directory. DirBuster comes with two modes of operation: brute-force mode, which will try to find as many resources as possible in the given directory; stealth mode, which is more selective and will only try to find resources that are likely to be there but not linked. Some of DirBuster’s key features include multi-threaded support, recursive brute-forcing, proxy support, and the ability to customize wordlists. Overall, DirBuster is a very useful tool for web application security testing that can be used to find hidden resources on a web server.


GoBuster is a tool for brute-forcing URLs (i.e., directories and files) in a web server. It is written in Go and comes with two modes of operation: directory mode, which brute-forces directories in a web server, and file mode, which brute-forces files in a web server. GoBuster also has the ability to brute-force DNS subdomains. Some of GoBuster’s key features include multi-threaded support, recursive brute-forcing, proxy support, and the ability to customize wordlists. Overall, GoBuster is a very useful tool for web application security testing that can be used to find hidden resources on a web server. Among its other key features are its speed, portability, and ease of use. Nikto can be used with any web servers (Apache, Nginx, IHS, OHS, Litespeed, etc.) and supports any web application frameworks (PHP, ASP.NET, Java, etc.).


Fiddler is a web debugging proxy that can be used to log, inspect, and modify traffic from any web browser or application. Fiddler’s key features include the ability to monitor and debug web traffic from any browser or application, capture traffic from multiple sessions simultaneously, replay traffic to test applications and modify requests and responses. Overall, Fiddler is a very powerful and versatile tool for web application security testing. Fiddler is primarily used for web application security testing, but it can also be used for other tasks such as performance testing and network monitoring. Among other features are its extensibility and ability to work with a wide range of web browsers and applications. As a developer, you can use Fiddler for debugging web traffic and conducting performance tests on your site. As A security professional, you can use it to decrypt web traffic and manipulate sessions and requests.


Wappalyzer is a cross-platform utility that identifies the technologies used on websites. It detects content management systems, e-commerce platforms, web servers, JavaScript frameworks, analytics tools, and many other software products that are used on the web. Wappalyzer identifies over 500 different software products, can integrate into a wide range of web browsers, and has a wide range of plugins and extensions. Wappalyzer can also prove useful for other tasks, including competitive intelligence, lead generation, and market research. Overall, Wappalyzer is a very useful tool for web developers, web designers, and security professionals, but can also be used by anyone interested in knowing the technologies used on websites.


Wfuzz is a Python-based web application penetration testing tool that can be used for brute-forcing web applications. It has no GUI interface and can only be used via the command line. Some of the vulnerabilities that Wfuzz can identify include SQL, LDAP, and XSS injection. The key features of this tool include authentication support, multiple injection points, cookie fuzzing, proxy and SOCK support, as well as multi-threading. Wfuzz is a popular web application penetration testing tool known for its effectiveness. Since a payload is a source of data in Wfuzz, it allows any input to be injected in any required field of an HTTP request, launching numerous web security attacks on different webpage application elements such as parameters, authentication, forms, directories, and headers.


As a web vulnerability management system, Invicti is a user-friendly, highly accurate web application security scanning tool. It is used to automatically identify security vulnerabilities like Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) in websites, web applications, and web services. Its proof-based scanning technology not only allows you to report vulnerabilities but also generates a proof of concept confirming that they are not false positives, which makes you save time in manually verifying these vulnerabilities. Among its key benefits, Invicti provides a vulnerability assessment, advanced web scanning, proof-based scanning technology, full HTML5 support, web services scanning, HTTP request builder, SDLC integration, reporting, exploitation, and manual testing capabilities, along with Anti-CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery) token support, automatic detection of custom 404 error pages, REST API support, and Anti-CSRF token support.


The W3af web application security testing framework is a popular option that is developed in Python. It allows testers to find over 200 types of security issues in web applications, including blind SQL injection, buffer overflow, Cross-Site Scripting, CSRF, and insecure DAV configurations. Among its key features are authentication support, an intuitive GUI interface, and the output that can be logged into a console, a file, or email. The framework has three main plugin types: crawl, audit, and attack. Crawl plugins are used for web application discovery and analysis; audit plugins find common web application security issues, such as XSS and SQL injection flaws; attack plugins allow testers to launch exploit attempts against vulnerabilities that have been found.


Acunetix is an easy yet powerful solution to secure your website, web applications, and APIs. It detects over 4500 web vulnerabilities such as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and SQL injection. Its DeepScan Crawler scans HTML5 websites and AJAX-heavy client-side SPAs. It allows users to export discovered vulnerabilities to issue trackers such as Atlassian JIRA, and GitHub. Among the key features of Acunetix are the following: in-depth crawl and analysis – automatically scanning all websites; the highest detection rate of vulnerabilities with low false positives; integrated vulnerability management – prioritizing and controlling threats, and it can be integrated with defect trackers such as JIRA, Bugzilla, or Mantis. Overall, Acunetix is a comprehensive web security solution that should be on every tester’s list.


The Wapiti web application security testing tool is free and open-source and is a great option for black-box web application testing. It is easy to use and understand for seasoned testers, but can also be a little difficult for novice testers. Wapiti supports authentication via different methods, including Kerberos and NTLM. Additionally, the web application security testing tool has a buster module that allows brute-force attacks on directories and file names on the web server being tested. Wapiti also supports both GET and POST methods for web application attacks. Vulnerabilities that can be detected using Wapiti include command execution detection, CRLF injection, database injection, file disclosure, shell shock or bash bug, SSRF (Server-Side Request Forgery), as well as weak bypassable .htaccess configurations, XSS injection, and XXE injection.


As an active web application security testing tool, Skipfish generates an interactive sitemap for the targeted site by performing a recursive crawl and dictionary-based verifications. Security verifications by Skipfish include server-side query injection, explicit SQL-type syntax within GET or POST parameters, server-side shell command injection, server-side XML/XPath injection, password forms being submitted from or to non-SSL pages, and incorrect or missing MIME types on renderable. The resulting map generated by Skipfish is annotated using the output from numerous active security verifications. The final report produced by the tool is meant to serve as a source of information for web application security assessment professionals.


SonarQube is another popular web application security testing tool that can be used to identify vulnerabilities as well as to measure the source code quality of a web application. Despite being written in Java, SonarQube can carry out the analysis of over 20 programming languages. Moreover, it can easily be integrated with tools such as Jenkins. The issues identified by SonarQube are highlighted either in green or red. While the green color represents low-risk vulnerabilities and issues, the red corresponds to severe ones. If the command prompt is available for advanced users, an interactive GUI is in place for beginners. Among the vulnerabilities identified by SonarQube are Cross-Site Scripting, Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, and SQL injection. The tool’s key features include its ability to detect tricky issues, support quality tracking of both short-lived and long-lived code branches, and visualize the history of a project.


Designed for both penetration testers and administrators, Arachni identifies security issues within a web application. The open-source security testing tool can identify numerous vulnerabilities, including invalidated redirect, local and remote file inclusion, SQL injection, and XSS injection. Its key benefits, among others, are being instantly deployable, modular, and high-performance, and offering Ruby framework and multi-platform support. Arachni delivers as a crawling web application audit tool and can be used to identify both generic as well as web-specific vulnerabilities. web-specific vulnerabilities range from outdated web server software to Cross-Site Scripting.


Designed for scanning small web applications, the portable Grabber includes forums and personal websites. As a lightweight security testing tool, Grabber has no GUI and is written in Python. Among its common vulnerabilities identified are backup file verification, Cross-Site Scripting, file inclusion, Simple AJAX verification, and SQL injection. Among its benefits, the tool generates a stats analysis file, is simple and portable, and supports JS code analysis. Other features worth of mention are web application fingerprinting, web content retrieval, web crawling, and web server analysis. The tool was named Grabber because of its ability to grab web content, but also to grab web server configurations and web application source code.

Iron Wasp

Iron Wasp is an open-source, powerful scanning tool for identifying over 25 types of web application flaws. It can also detect false positives and false negatives. Iron Wasp helps identify a large variety of vulnerabilities, namely broken authentication, Cross-Site Scripting, CSRF, hidden parameters, and privilege escalation. On top of being extensible via plugins or modules written in C#, Python, Ruby, or VB.NET and GUI-based, the tool can generate reports in HTML and RTF formats. Iron Wasp owes its name to the fact that web applications are the primary target (or “prey”) of web application security assessment.

Wrapping up

Web application penetration testing tools are essential to help identify and address vulnerabilities in web applications before attackers can exploit them. To protect their assets and sensitive data, many companies now integrate web application penetration testing into their development cycle. As web applications are increasingly hosted in cloud infrastructures with specific security challenges, many organizations also choose to protect their mission-critical web applications through regular web application penetration testing.

If you need help securing your web applications, contact us today.

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