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11 FREE Operating System for Penetration Testing & Digital Forensics

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Want to see yourself as Penetration Tester, IT Security Expert?

There are thousands of standalone software & tools for ethical hacking, penetration testing, forensic investigation and it can be a burden to maintain and keep track of standard OS like Linux, Windows, or MAC OS.

If you are practicing ethical hacking, then you would love the following Linux-based operating system designed for you.

This OS has a bunch of software inbuilt, so you don’t need to install it individually. There is a various method to install them, including VM and in Cloud.

Let’s go through them…

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is one of the most modern advanced pen testing Linux distributions based on Debian.


Kali Linux is available in 64 bit, 32 bit, and virtual images to download. Lately, it was made available in AWS and Azure cloud.

Having more than 350 tools in the following category and extensive documentation makes Kali excellent.

  • Information Gathering
  • Vulnerability Analysis
  • Wireless, Password, Hardware Attacks
  • Web Applications
  • Exploitation, Forensics. Stress Testing, Reporting
  • Sniffing, Spoofing,
  • Reverse Engineering

Kali is an open-source maintained by offensive security.

So, go ahead and play around with it. If you are new to Kali Linux, then you may check out this tutorial for the beginner.


ArchStrike is based on Arch Linux for a security professional and available to download for the following platform.

  • 64 bit
  • 32 bit
  • VirtualBox
  • VMWare


There are around 5000 packages available for almost everything you need in various categories, and some of them are:

  • Exploit
  • Malware
  • Spoofing/Sniffing
  • DDoS
  • Social Engineering
  • Enumeration
  • Networking
  • Forensics
  • Brute Force

ArchStrike is straightforward and lightweight, so give a try and see if that works for you.


BlackArch is another distro based on Arch Linux based with more than 1600 tools. You can either install the tools individually or in a group.


BlackArch can be installed on top of Arch Linux or from ISO. Documentation is available in English, French, Turkish, and Brazillian language.

BackBox Linux

BackBox is an open-source Linux distro for security analysis and pen-testing. BackBox is hacker-friendly and has more than 100 packages, including some of the commonly used.

  • NMAP
  • Scapy
  • Wireshark
  • Aircrack
  • SQL Map
  • W3af
  • Metasploit



CAINE (Computer Aided Investigate Environment) is a live Linux distro with a user-friendly graphical interface and menu.

With CAINE, you can create a meaningful well-structured report of an investigation that makes communication easy with the rest of the team.


You can carry CAINE in a USB pen drive with a large number of the toolset.


Samurai WTF (Web Testing Framework) is a virtual machine available for Virtual Box and VMWare.

The virtual machine is pre-configured with many open source security tools, including the following.

  • Fierce domain scanner
  • Maltego
  • WebScarab
  • Ratproxy
  • W3af
  • Burp
  • Beef
  • AJAXShell


STD (Security Tool Distribution) is a collection of hundreds of open-source ethical hacking tools. STD is live distro, and tools are grouped as below.

  • Authentication
  • Encryption
  • Forensics
  • Firewall
  • Honeypots
  • IDS
  • Network
  • Password tools
  • Packet sniffing
  • Tunnels
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Wireless



Pentoo is based on Gentoo with lots of customized tools & kernel and available in 32bit and 64bit.


Parrot Security

Parrot is based on Debian targeted for penetration testing, privacy protection & digital forensics.

Parrot Security is developed in collaboration with Caine and has much cryptographic software, privacy browser like TOR, I2P.

You can also buy VPS, which comes with pre-installed Parrot Security hosted in their data centers.


SELKS (Suricata Elasticsearch Logstash Kibana Scirius) is based on Debian and focused on Suricata IDS/IPS (Intrusion detection system/Intrusion prevention system). SELKS is available with a desktop or without, so choose what you like.


NST (Network Security Toolkit) is focused on system and network investigation. You can either use the live version, DVD, or USB drive.


NST is packaged with the top 125 security tools by

I hope the above operating system designed for an ethical hacker; security expert makes the incident investigation easy and quicker.

Note: Kaspersky has lately announced the secure OS is coming up soon.

You may also be interested in learning practical hacking and penetration testing.

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