Kali Linux Top Forensic Tools (2020)

In the current digital world, every individual, as well as an organization, are bound to external attacks and security breaches by a cyber attacker. To determine how the attack was carried out and how to respond to attack is achieved by using digital forensics. With the Kali Linux launched in 2013, the digital forensic area evolved very much. More than 600 penetration testing tools are packaged in Kali Linux. We are going to present 14 best tools for forensics packaged inside Kali Linux. Kali Linux forensic tools let you perform basic problem solving, data imaging solutions up to full case analysis and management.

Figure 1: Kali Linux

Generally, when performing forensics on a computer system, any activity that can change or modify the data analysis of the system must be avoided. Other modern desktops usually interfere with this goal, but with Kali Linux through the boot menu, you can enable a special forensics mode.

Binwalk tool:

Binwalk is a forensic tool in Kali that searches a specified binary image for executable code and files. It identifies all the files that are embedded inside any firmware image. It uses a very effective library known as “libmagic,” which sorts out magic signatures in Unix file utility.

Binwalk CLI tool

Figure 2: Binwalk CLI tool

Bulk extractor tool:

Bulk extractor tool extracts credit card numbers, URL links, email addresses, which are used digital evidence. This tool lets you identify malware and intrusion attacks, identity investigations, cyber vulnerabilities, and password cracking. The specialty of this tool is that not only does it work with normal data, but it also works on compressed data and incomplete or damaged data.

Figure 3: Bulk extractor command-line tool

Figure 3: Bulk extractor command-line tool

HashDeep tool:

The hashdeep tool is a modified version of the dc3dd hashing tool designed especially for digital forensics. This tool includes auto hashing of files, i.e., sha-1, sha-256 and 512, tiger, whirlpool, and md5. An error log file is auto written. Progress reports are generated with every output.

HashDeep CLI interface tool.

Figure 4: HashDeep CLI interface tool.

Magic rescue tool:

Magic rescue is a forensic tool that performs scanning operations on a blocked device. This tool uses magic bytes to extract all the known file types from the device. This opens devices for scanning and reading the file types and shows the possibility of recovering files deleted or corrupted partition. It can work with every file system.

Figure 5: Magic rescue command-line interface tool

Scalpel tool:

This forensic tool carves all the files and indexes those applications which run on Linux and windows. The scalpel tool supports multithreading execution on multiple core systems, which help in quick executions. File carving is performed in fragments such as regular expressions or binary strings.

Figure 6: Scalpel forensic carving tool

Scrounge-NTFS tool:

This forensic utility helps in retrieving data from corrupted NTFS disks or partitions. It rescues data from a corrupted file system to a new working file system.

Figure 7: Forensic data recovery tool

Guymager tool:

This forensic utility is used to acquire media for forensic imagery and has a graphical user interface. Due to its multi-threaded data processing and compression, it is a very fast tool. This tool also supports cloning. It generates flat, AFF, and EWF images. The UI is very easy to use.

Figure 8: Guymager GUI forensic utility

Pdfid tool:

This forensic tool is used in pdf files. The tool scans pdf files for specific keywords, which allows you to identify executable codes when opened. This tool solves the basic problems associated with pdf files. The suspicious files are then analyzed with the pdf-parser tool.

Figure 9: Pdfid Command-line interface utility

Pdf-parser tool:

This tool is one of the most important forensic tools for pdf files. pdf-parser parses a pdf document and distinguishes the important elements utilized during its analysis, and this tool does not render that pdf document.

Figure 10: Pdf-parser CLI forensic tool

Peepdf tool:

A python tool that explores pdf documents to find whether it is harmless or destructive. It provides all the elements needed to perform pdf analysis in one single package. It shows suspicious entities and supports various encodings and filters. It can parse encrypted documents too.

Figure 11: Peepdf python tool for pdf investigation.

Autopsy tool:

An autopsy is all in one forensic utility for fast data recovery and hash filtering. This tool carves deleted files and media from unallocated space using PhotoRec. It can also extract EXIF extension multimedia. Autopsy scans for compromise indicator using STIX library. It is available in the command line as well as GUI interface.

Figure 12: Autopsy, all in one forensic utility package

img_cat tool:

img_cat tool gives output content of an image file. The image files recovered will have meta-data and embedded data, which allows you to convert it into raw data. This raw data helps in piping the output to calculate MD5 hash.

Figure 13: img_cat embedded data to raw data recovery and converter.

ICAT tool:

ICAT is a Sleuth Kit tool (TSK) that creates an output of a file based on its identifier or inode number. This forensic tool is ultra-fast, and it opens the named file images and copies it to standard output with a specific inode number. An inode is one of the data structures of the Linux system which stores data and information about a Linux file such as ownership, file size, and type, write and read permissions.

Figure 14: ICAT console-based interface tool

Srch_strings tool:

This tool looks for viable ASCII and Unicode strings inside binary data and then prints the offset string found in that data. srch_strings tool will extract and retrieve the strings present in a file and gives offset byte if called upon.

Figure 15: String retrieval forensic tool


These 14 tools come with Kali Linux live, and installer images and they are open-source and freely available. In the case of an older version of Kali, then I would suggest an update to the latest version to get these tools directly. There are many other forensic tools which we will cover next. See part 2 of this article here.

About the author

Younis Said

I am a freelancing software project developer, a software engineering graduate and a content writer. I love working with Linux and open-source software.