Penetration Tools (Updated)

Morey Haber, May 3rd, 2010

The post I had here earlier was worded in a way that was misleading, and I want to rewrite it now so that I’m perfectly clear.

Thousands of legitimate individuals and businesses (including eEye) perform penetration testing, which is useful, required by regulatory compliance, and a very important tool in the security industry. Referring to it as anything besides a tool is a poor choice of language, and I want to correct it. My main issue is with running penetration testing tools against assets that the user either does not own or is not responsible for. And, the easy availability of such tools, often free of charge, opens the door for this potential abuse. On the contrary, it also makes it easier for businesses to test themselves whether a vulnerability can be exploited. This is a difficult balance.

With many years in this business, I’m well acquainted with what can go wrong, and what I hoped to convey was the importance of well-managed testing under the watch of a user who knows what they’re doing. When these tools aren’t used as they are intended to be, with care and professionalism, damage can be done. Having them free, and readily available for everyone increases the risk of the wrong person, using the right tools, in the wrong way.