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Top Open-Source Cybersecurity Tools

Written by: University of Tulsa   •  Jan 22, 2024
A Cybersecurity Expert Works on a Laptop While Standing in a Server Room.

Top Open-Source Cybersecurity Tools

More than half of companies experienced a cyber attack in 2023, according to a survey of over 5,000 professionals in organizations across the United States and Western Europe for Hiscox’s 2023 cyber readiness report. The number of organizations facing cyber attacks has grown every year since 2020 — and the cost of these attacks remains high.

When it comes to cybersecurity, open-source tools are an innovative way to protect private data. The collaborative approach of open-source software means that cybersecurity experts can quickly fix errors. And the top open-source cybersecurity tools give professionals a powerful method for defending their organizations against cybercrimes.

The Need for Cybersecurity Services and Tools

Cybersecurity professionals work to protect their organization’s critical infrastructure, networks, and devices from unauthorized access. As cybercriminals continue to develop new ways to breach security systems, cybersecurity professionals need to stay abreast of new ways to thwart them, including methods in which cybersecurity and AI, or artificial intelligence, can be combined.

Organizations need comprehensive cybersecurity plans to stay ahead of hackers. Cybersecurity professionals draw on their technical skills, including their programming skills in cybersecurity, to conduct penetration tests and implement new security procedures. 

Cybersecurity teams often use open-source tools to keep their technology up to date so they can continue to protect their organization’s sensitive data and networks from the latest tactics used by cybercriminals. In addition, by combining the debugging skills of experienced cybersecurity teams around the world, open-source tools can offer a collaborative advantage. 

Big organizations with extensive resources and large cybersecurity teams often rely on expensive services and tools to protect their networks and data. However, for many organizations, particularly small organizations, open-source tools can achieve similar results at a fraction of the cost and effort.  

Types of Cybersecurity Tools

Hackers attack systems with malware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and scams that target users. Cybersecurity professionals leverage several tools and approaches to protect their organization’s private data. 

Common cybersecurity methods and tools include:

  • Encryption: Using encryption software can prevent unauthorized access to data. These tools use cryptography to secure digital information.
  • Penetration Testing: Penetration testing simulates an intrusion to identify weaknesses in a computer’s or network’s defenses. Cybersecurity experts can conduct these tests regularly to improve security.
  • Multifactor Authentication: Implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) by requiring verification to access private networks and data can boost security. With MFA, authorized users are verified through biometric data or a code in addition to a password.
  • Vulnerability Scanning: Software tools can scan systems and networks for potential security loopholes. These scans may be automated or done manually.
  • Firewalls: Firewalls provide network security by blocking potentially harmful network traffic. Organizations can determine their firewall settings based on their cybersecurity policies.
  • Antivirus Software: Antivirus software scans computers and networks for viruses and blocks harmful files before they can do any damage.

As cybercriminals develop new ways to penetrate firewalls and target systems with malware, cybersecurity tools can help users detect new threats and minimize the harm caused by any breaches. 

7 Open-Source Cybersecurity Tools

Open-source cybersecurity tools are known as being both innovative and collaborative. In addition, they’re a cost-effective alternative to expensive commercial software. Open-source software also has the advantage of being transparent and customizable. Cybersecurity professionals can adapt open-source tools to meet their needs.

The following list includes some of the best open-source tools for conducting vulnerability scans, encrypting files, detecting intrusions, and improving cybersecurity.


Wireshark is a network protocol analyzer. It allows cybersecurity professionals to monitor their organization’s network traffic in real time. This helps professionals identify and address potential breaches quickly. In addition, Wireshark can be used for offline data analysis and as a decryption tool. 


An open-source intrusion detection system, OSSEC allows for real-time analysis of a network’s security. It can monitor firewalls, authentication logs, and other cybersecurity tools to protect servers and identify vulnerabilities. OSSEC detects intrusions by inspecting network packets and scanning servers, including cloud servers.


Strong, secure passwords help protect private data. Many security breaches are the result of human error, including the use of insecure passwords. KeePass is an open-source password manager that lets users store their passwords in a secure database. By using strong database encryption, KeePass makes it easier for users to manage their passwords.


OpenVAS is an open-source vulnerability scanner that searches for weaknesses within a system and helps users identify areas for improvement. By conducting tests regularly, users can take actionable steps to strengthen their security. 

Clam AntiVirus

Clam AntiVirus, also known as ClamAV, is an open-source software program that can identify malware and viruses. Available for multiple operating systems, ClamAV scans emails for viruses, detects potential malware in file systems, and stops malware from reaching users’ systems. 


Nmap, also known as Network Mapper, detects vulnerabilities and security issues. The software conducts security audits to identify potential risks. This open-source tool is available for Linux, Windows, and MacOS, and can be used to scan single devices or large networks.


An open-source tool for disk encryption, VeraCrypt constructs a virtual encrypted disk to protect devices and systems from security breaches. In addition, the tool can encrypt external hard drives and USB flash drives. VeraCrypt also allows users to hide encrypted drives in case criminals extort them into giving up their passwords.

Prepare for Cybersecurity Career Success at The University Of Tulsa

Cybersecurity professionals need the right expertise to succeed at their jobs. They must be able to determine their organization’s needs, implement the appropriate open source cybersecurity tools, and train users on the best practices to protect the organization’s sensitive information. You can learn these advanced cybersecurity skills by enrolling in the online M.S. in Cyber Security program at The University of Tulsa. 

Recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a center of academic excellence in research and cyber defense education, TU’s cybersecurity program emphasizes technical skills and leadership abilities. The flexible, online program prepares individuals to defend critical networks and strengthen cyber infrastructure. Contact TU to find out how you can earn a master’s in cybersecurity. 

Recommended Readings

Cybersecurity Defense Strategies: The Role of Cybersecurity in National Security

How to Become a Penetration Tester

Work-From-Home Safety Checklist: Securing Your Virtual Workspace



CompTIA, “What Is Cybersecurity?”

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, “Free Cybersecurity Services and Tools”

Greenbone, OpenVAS

Hiscox, “Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2023”

Indeed, “Cybersecurity Tools: Definition, Importance and Examples”

Infosec, “The Impact of Open Source on Cybersecurity”

International Federation of Accountants, “Cybersecurity Is Critical for All Organizations — Large and Small”






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