13 Top Linux Security Tools

Guy Ben-Aharon
Nov 02 · 8 min read

Linux is the most popular operating system in the enterprise when it comes to running data centers, servers, and enterprise applications. It used to be that Linux was secure and not a top target for attackers. However, as the operating system has risen in popularity, hackers today see a lot of gain in breaching Linux systems. For this reason, it is important for organizations to secure their Linux systems in every possible way. In this post, we look at the top 13 Linux security tools, some of which are open source, some commercial, but all vetted to do a fantastic job at what they do – secure a specific aspect of Linux.

1. Argon – Supply chain security for Linux

Argon is a supply chain security tool that secures every step of the CI/CD pipeline of your application. This includes applications that are built on Linux systems and published to a public cloud, as well as applications that are built to run on Linux systems in a data center. Argon scans the entire software development lifecycle looking for vulnerabilities and alerting / remediating them. It is designed to help secure the supply chain of an application from the very beginning of the development process to the end.

Argon starts with a simple idea: take a snapshot of a Git repository, and tell you if it contains any secrets, or known vulnerabilities. Argon can scan open source repositories or your organization’s repositories for vulnerabilities. Apart from Git repositories, Argon also integrates with every other tool across the development and build pipeline such as GitHub, GitLab, Jenkins, Docker Hub, and more. It is a very powerful tool. 

When you build an application, you need full confidence that your entire supply chain is secure – That’s what Argon does. It scans your entire supply chain and alerts you if a vulnerability is found. If you rely on Linux to build and release applications, you need Argon. 

2. ClamAV – Email antivirus scanner

ClamAV is an open source email antivirus scanning tool designed for detecting trojans, viruses, malware & other malicious threats on the internet. While it is originally designed to protect the mail server from viruses, it can also be used to scan email attachments. It is able to scan emails including attachments like zip files, PDFs, HTML, .exe files and more to ensure incoming email is secure.

ClamAV’s extensive signature database is used to check the trust of every signature definition. There are two basic types of files that are used to make signature definitions: text files and binary files. Text files are usually used for smaller files, while binary files are used for larger files.

Coming from the house of Cisco, ClamAV is an extremely popular email security tool for Linux.

3. GFI LanGuard – Patch management for networks

GFI Languard is a network management solution that provides patch management, asset inventory, network access control, security compliance, vulnerability scanning, and automatic remediation. It helps you ensure the security of your network devices and protects against threats, including malware, data breaches, and cyber-attacks.

As a Linux security solution, the GFI Languard application works to prevent security breaches and protect both your organization and your customers. It can be used to monitor and manage all connected devices, network traffic, and network activity on your network. It also provides asset and vulnerability management and can be used to track and manage network security and compliance. It is a powerful tool to identify and close security gaps that would otherwise be uncaught.

4. Kali Linux – Penetration testing for Linux

Kali Linux is a hugely popular Linux distribution that is purpose built for penetration testing. It has a vast library of security tools that come pre-installed. Kali Linux is a security-focused Linux distribution used for penetration testing, security assessments, and reverse engineering. 

Every Linux security professional worth their salt has heard about Kali Linux, and if you’ve never used it, do yourself a favor and go get Kali Linux right away. Best of all, it’s free and open source.

5. Linux Malware Detect – Integrated malware detection

Antivirus software running on the host is often prone to false positives, giving the administrator a hard time in determining what is a valid user action and what is not. LMD is intended to detect such hard-to-spot malware. The threats include (but are not limited to) rootkits, backdoor trojans, viruses, and other suspicious or malicious activity. LMD is great at integrating with external sources for signature detection. It also integrates with ClamAV. This makes it very effective as a malware detection tool. 

6. Lynis – Security audit for Linux

Lynis is an open source security audit tool for Linux, and Unix-based systems like MacOS. It performs a series of tests to determine the security health of the system. It scans the system for installed packages, known issues, and possible security threats. The tests are based on best practices from the information security community, including the National Security Agency (NSA) and the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2). It also gives helpful suggestions to improve the overall security of the system. 

The scan results can be used to harden your system against attacks and to verify compliance with security standards.  It is most frequently used in auditing and penetration testing. Every day, large companies and institutions run Lynis on their systems to verify that they meet the security standards set by the PCI, HIPAA, or NIST.

7. Maltrail – Traffic detection for Linux networks

Mailtrail is a traffic detection tool that leverages public blacklists to spot suspicious activity. It creates a trail from this external data. The trail is then matched against any packet coming to a user-defined port on a local machine. If a match is found, the packet is considered malicious and optionally logged and/or forwarded to a user-defined list of IRC servers for further processing. Maltrail can be used for detecting malicious traffic from compromised machines behind the network perimeter or from the Internet.

8. Metasploit – Penetration testing for Linux-based applications

The Metasploit penetration testing framework is a very popular penetration testing tool. It helps you manage your penetration testing workflow. The Metasploit Framework (MSF), which began as a Perl script, was created by H.D. Moore in 2003. Metasploit is used by penetration testers and vulnerability assessment teams to verify the presence of vulnerabilities on systems and to exploit them.

Penetration testing is a security assessment in which an organization hires a third party or someone from within the organization itself tries to breach their security. The goal of a penetration testing is to find and document vulnerabilities in the target’s IT infrastructure. According to the open source security resource, vulnerability scanners and penetration tests can be used interchangeably. If you use Metasploit, Kali Linux or any other penetration testing software, it is important to be familiar with the penetration testing phases.

9. OSSEC – Intrusion detection & monitoring for Linux

OSSEC is an Open Source Intrusion Detection System. It runs on most operating systems. It helps with compliance, configuring alerts on incidents, it can monitor without needing any agent, and can centralize all monitoring data from multiple systems in one place. It integrates with a wide range of infrastructure and tools including SIEM. Some of its notable features are file integrity checking, log moniting, rootkit detection, and active response. OSSEC is somewhat of a Swiss army knife that can prove handy in any security professional’s arsenal. 

10. PortSwigger – Security scanning tool

PortSwigger is a web application security tool that scans your entire application and surfaces security issues. It allows multiple types of scans like fast crawl, and critical vulnerability audit scans. You can even schedule scans to run periodically, and define custom configuration for each scan. PortSwigger has a robust reporting interface complete with charts, dashboards, and a clean UI. It is a great option for mid-large size organizations that want to stay on top of all their web applications. 

11. Prowler – AWS vulnerability checker

 AWS is an excellent cloud service that helps businesses scale their operations, but it can be challenging to manage security for your AWS instances, including AWS Linux instances. To help, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) released the AWS CIS benchmark, a set of best practices to help companies secure their AWS environments. If you’ve configured your accounts to automatically install security updates, you’re already off to a great start. But if your team is still manually performing security updates, Prowler is a tool you should try.

Prowler checks security configuration settings across multiple AWS accounts, and can automate the process of identifying security gaps. Prowler can be run manually or set to run on a schedule. When you run it, the tool will generate a report that details the security gaps in your AWS environment, along with instructions for how to close them.

12. TheHive – Incident response tool

TheHive Project is an open source, free platform that provides organizations with an enterprise solution for incident response management. TheHive Project will help users respond quickly to incidents as they arise. It is cross-platform, written in the Python programming language, and it is compatible Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. The Incident Responder allows users to manage incidents, check incident responders and review incident reports.

13. Wireshark – Network monitoring for Linux

Have you ever wondered what is happening on your network? With Wireshark you can actually see it. Wireshark is the world’s foremost and widely-used network protocol analyzer, and is one of the most popular tools on this list. It lets you see what’s happening on your network at a microscopic level. You can use Wireshark to detect and diagnose network issues, to analyze the security of your network, and to learn more about how networks function.

Choose the best tool

In summary, there isn’t one single tool that does it all. Kali Linux comes close to having the widest collection of Linux security tools, but others like Wireshark and Argon Security are indispensable. What you really need when creating and deploying Linux applications and servers is a holistic solution that can scan your supply chain from start to end. In a modern DevOps world, on-premise security tools don’t cut it. You need a tool that can integrate with CI/CD solutions and secure every step of the software delivery process. 


Guy Ben-Aharon
Nov 02 · 8 min read

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