Kali Linux 2022.1 is your one stop shop for penetration testing


Kali Linux has long been a fan favorite for penetration testing, and with a refresh and new tools, the latest iteration is better than ever.

Image: Larich/Shutterstock

For anyone concerned with security, penetration testing is often a necessary evil. Sometimes you can’t tell what vulnerabilities are in your systems until you intentionally try to crack them. Fortunately, with the help of penetration testing, you don’t actually break these systems, you just knock on their doors to see if it’s possible to crash.

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This is why platforms like Kali Linux are so important. With penetration testing Linux distros, you have all the tools you need to run almost any known penetration test on your servers, desktops, and network.

Offensive Security recently launched the first iteration of Kali Linux for 2022. In this new version, dubbed simply 2022.1, you’ll find improved accessibility features, SSH compatibility for legacy protocols, and other new tests to try.

Let’s explore Kali Linux 2022.1 and see if this Linux distro should be your go-to penetration testing tool.

What’s new in Kali Linux?

As with every release of a distro, the first thing people want to know is what’s shiny and new? Kali Linux 2022.1 has a lot of new stuff to keep it fresh and modern.

First, the developers have added some visual refreshes through new wallpapers for the desktop, login, and GRUB display. The desktop is Xfce (Figure A) and the developers have done an amazing job of keeping it clean and minimal.

Figure A

The Kali Linux desktop is clean and minimalist.

I’m glad the developers chose to keep the desktop clean. Very often, developers with such a distribution throw everything on the desktop (like Konky) to give the user all the information he may or may not need at a glance. This can easily become too distracting and cluttered to be useful, especially when using a distro as a virtual machine, where desktop space is at a premium.

Speaking of virtual machines…

The installation route I chose was a virtual device (which can be downloaded from the Kali Linux site). Unless you need to install Kali Linux on bare metal, I highly recommend going this route as it’s much more efficient to install and use. Instead of booting the OS when you need it, you can boot the virtual machine and land it in exactly the same state it was last used. To make the virtual route even more appealing, when running on VirtualBox you can resize the VM window (like you can with Ubuntu Desktop). Also, shared clipboard is enabled by default, so copying and pasting between host and guest (and vice versa) works as expected.

One thing to know about the VM route is that the default credentials are kali/kali. You need to make sure to add a new user with:

sudo adduser USERNAME

Where USERNAME is the new username. After that, make sure to add the new user to sudo with:

sudo usermod -aG sudo USERNAME

Where USERNAME is the new username.

Speaking of terminal…

One thing I really like about what the developers have done is change the terminal window so that it automatically completes commands. This could be very handy with a distro that might see you working in the terminal window more than on other desktops. For example, I start typing sudo and the terminal autocompletes with the last sudo command I entered (Figure B).

Figure B

Kali Linux terminal autocomplete can be a huge time saver.

SSH backwards compatibility

SSH developers are constantly evolving encryption software, protocols, and algorithms. It is not uncommon for an encryption algorithm to include vulnerabilities. When this happens, SSH developers can disable it (to protect users). Given the nature of Kali Linux, it is important to be able to continue testing for these vulnerabilities. So the developers have made sure that the SSH client can be configured for wider compatibility (so that it can communicate with as many SSH servers as possible).

When using SSH in extended compatibility mode, legacy key exchange algorithms (such as (diffie-hellman-*-sha1) and ciphers (such as CBC) are enabled. To enable extended compatibility mode, you need to go to Desktop Menu | Settings | Kali Tweak. In Kali Tweak Tool (Figure C), select Hardening.

Figure C

The Kali Tweaks tool lets you configure hardening, install toolkits, configure the shell, and change virtual machine settings.

In the resulting window (Figure D), use the cursor keys to select SSH. Hit the spacebar to select, hit apply and hit enter on your keyboard.

Figure D

Enabling extended compatibility mode for SSH on Kali Linux.

New tools for even more testing

Kali Linux 2022.1 adds six new tools to further expand your testing efforts. These tools are:

  • dnsx: Run multiple DNS queries.
  • email2phonenumber—OSINT tool that allows a user to locate a phone number via email (NOTE: I haven’t found this tool on Kali Linux yet and although it says it can be installed with the command sudo apt install email2phonenumberI have not found such success).
  • naabu—a fast port scanner.
  • kernels: targeted analysis based on a model.
  • PoshC2: A proxy-aware C2 framework that uses post-mining and lateral movement.
  • proxify—a proxy tool for capturing, manipulating, and replaying HTTP/HTTPS traffic.

Along with the new tools, you’ll find that Kali Linux contains all the usual suspects for your penetration testing needs. Combined with the new tools, visual refresh, and extended compatibility mode, Kali Linux 2022.1 might be the best version of this operating system yet. Download the virtual appliance or an ISO image to install on bare metal and find out if this latest iteration will be your platform of choice for penetration testing.

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