Top 20 Operating Systems for Hackers, Pentesters, Blue and Red Teamers

Here we listed the best operating systems used today by hackers, pentesters, blue and red teamers. (basically anyone in the security sector)

These include penetration testing distro’s, specialized OS’s that focus’ malware analysis, wifi hacking, forensic investigations, network monitoring and even a honeypot distribution. The choice is completely yours!

In case you’re totally new to this, these hacking distros are simply operating systems or more like versions of operating systems, locked and loaded with all the weapons you’ll ever need to test the security and stability of your target.

Operating Systems for Hackers, Pentesters, Blue and Red Teamers

1. Kali Linux

Kali Linux is an open source project that is maintained and funded by Offensive Security, a provider of world-class information security training and penetration testing services. Kali linux is the go-to operating system for hackers and pentesters as it boasts an impressive +600 preinstalled penetration-testing programs.

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2. Parrot

Parrot is a cloud friendly operating system designed for Pentesting, Computer Forensic, Reverse engineering, Hacking, Cloud pentesting, privacy/anonimity and cryptography. Based on Debian and developed by Frozenbox network.

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3. Tails

Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

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4. Black Arch

BlackArch Linux is an open source distribution of Linux derived from the lightweight and powerful Arch Linux operating system and designed from the ground up to be used by security professionals for penetration testing tasks and security auditing.

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5. Commando VM

Commando VM launched by FireEye, aiming to provide a Windows distribution that focused on supporting penetration testers and red teamers. The distribution helps penetration testers in creating handy and versatile toolboxes for offensive engagements in Windows platform like Kali Linux.

So if you don’t want to leave the windows environment this operating system would be your go-to.

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6. Qubes OS

Qubes takes an approach called security by compartmentalization, which allows you to compartmentalize the various parts of your digital life into securely isolated compartments called qubes.

This approach allows you to keep the different things you do on your computer securely separated from each other in isolated qubes so that one Qube getting compromised won’t affect the others. For example, you might have one qube for visiting untrusted websites and a different qube for doing online banking. This way, if your untrusted browsing qube gets compromised by a malware-laden website, your online banking activities won’t be at risk.

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7. Pentoo

Pentoo is also available as an overlay for an existing Gentoo installation. It features packet injection patched wifi drivers, GPGPU cracking software, and lots of tools for penetration testing and security assessment.

The Pentoo kernel includes grsecurity and PAX hardening and extra patches – with binaries compiled from a hardened toolchain with the latest nightly versions of some tools available.

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8. Xiapan OS

Xiaopan OS is an easy to use software package for beginners and experts that includes a number of advanced hacking tools to penetrate WPA/WPA2/WPS/WEP wireless networks.

Based on the Tiny Core Linux (TCL) operating system (OS), it has a slick graphical user interface (GUI) requiring no need for typing Linux commands. Xiaopan OS is Windows, Mac and Linux compatible and users can simply install and boot this ~70mb OS through a USB pen drive or in a virtual machine (VM) environment.

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9. SigintOS

SigintOS; as the name suggests, SIGINT is an improved Linux distribution for Signal Intelligence. This distribution is based on Ubuntu Linux. It has its own software called SigintOS. With this software, many SIGINT operations can be performed via a single graphical interface.

Hardware and software installation problems faced by many people interested in signal processing are completely eliminated with SigintOS. HackRF, BladeRF, USRP, RTL-SDR are already installed, and the most used Gnuradio, Gsm and Gps applications are also included in the distribution.

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10. DracOS

Dracos Linux is the Linux operating system that is open source and built by The Linux From Scratch. This operating system is one variant of Linux distributions based security testing of course for penetration testing purpose.

Dracos linux does not use GUI-based tools-tools and just have the software using the CLI (command line interface) to perform its operations and tools. Dracos development is initiated by Zico Ekel (The founder of Indonesian Backtrack Team and the originator of Dracos Linux).

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11. Flare VM

FLARE VM is the first of its kind freely available and open sourced Windows-based security distribution designed for reverse engineers, malware analysts, incident responders, forensicators, and penetration testers.

Inspired by open-source Linux-based security distributions like Kali Linux, FLARE VM delivers a fully configured platform with a comprehensive collection of Windows security tools such as debuggers, disassemblers, decompilers, static and dynamic analysis utilities, network analysis and manipulation, web assessment, exploitation, vulnerability assessment applications, and many others.

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12. Attify OS

Instead of spending time installing, configuring and setting up various tools required for IoT pentesting, here is a pre-made distro for you containing the tools that would come handy during any Internet of Things Security Assessment or Penetration testing.

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13. CAINE – Computer Aided INvestigative Environment

CAINE (Computer Aided INvestigative Environment) is an Ubuntu-based GNU/Linux live distribution created as a project of digital forensics.

It offers a complete forensic environment that is organised to integrate existing software tools as software modules and to provide a friendly graphical interface. The main design objectives that CAINE aims to guarantee are: an interoperable environment that supports the digital investigator during the four phases of the digital investigation, a user-friendly graphical interface, and a semi-automated compilation of the final report.

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14. Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a free and open-source Linux distribution based on Debian. Ubuntu is officially released in three editions: Desktop, Server, and Core. Ubuntu is a popular operating system for cloud computing, with support for OpenStack.

Ubuntu is released every six months, with long-term support releases every two years. Even though Ubuntu has nothing to do with penetration testing or hacking, its easy to install kali linux tools with a single installer such as katoolin.

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15. MobiSec

The MobiSec Live Environment Mobile Testing open source project is a live environment for testing mobile environments, including devices, applications, and supporting infrastructure. The purpose is to provide attackers and defenders the ability to test their mobile environments to identify design weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

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16. Security Onion

Security Onion is a free and open source Linux distribution for intrusion detection, enterprise security monitoring, and log management. It includes Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana, Snort, Suricata, Bro, Wazuh, Sguil, Squert, CyberChef, NetworkMiner, and many other security tools.

The easy-to-use Setup wizard allows you to build an army of distributed sensors for your enterprise in minutes!

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17. Redhunt OS

RedHunt aims to be a one stop shop for all your threat emulation and threat hunting needs by integrating attacker’s arsenal as well as defender’s toolkit to actively identify the threats in your environment.

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18. T-Pot: Multi Honeypot Platform

T-Pot is based on debian. The honeypot daemons as well as other support components being used have been paravirtualized using docker.

This allowed developers to run multiple honeypot daemons on the same network interface without problems and make the entire system very low maintenance.

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19. Backbox

BackBox Linux is a penetration testing and security assessment oriented Linux distribution providing a network and systems analysis toolkit. It includes some of the most commonly known/used security and analysis tools, aiming for a wide spread of goals, ranging from web application analysis to network analysis, stress tests, sniffing, vulnerability assessment, computer forensic analysis, automotive and exploitation.

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20. Deft X Linux

Born from an idea of Stefano Fratepietro, DEFT (acronym for Digital Evidence & Forensics Toolkit) is a distribution made for Digital Forensics and Incident Response, with the purpose of running live on systems without tampering or corrupting devices (hard disks, pendrives, etc…) connected to the PC/Mac where the boot process takes place.

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Conclusion

All of these distributions are constantly being updated throughout the year or was updated last year. Many websites on google search (“top operating systems for hackers”) shows out of date distributions that’s either discontinued or lacking the necessary tools.

At the end of the day, there’s no “right/perfect” operating system but it’s how you use it and what you need it to accomplish. Adding the correct privacy tools is essential to any operating system.

So what do you think of the operating systems listed? and what is your favorite distro you use? Do you think we skipped one?

Let us know in the comments section below!

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