Updated April 17, 2023
Definition of Kali Linux NetHunter
Kali Linux NetHunter is defined as a free and open-source platform that provides mobile penetrating testing utility for android devices. This platform is based on Kali Linux. There are a wide variety of android devices for which Kali NetHunter is present, for un-rooted devices, we have NetHunter Rootless and for rooted android devices that have custom recovery, we have a custom-built version known as NetHunter Lite. This platform included all kinds of android devices available in the market even for the premium devices from OnePlus, Samsung, and Google Nexus. This platform is maintained by a community consisting of volunteers and the project is funded by Offensive security.
How does Kali Linux NetHunter work?
We just now learned that NetHunter in Kali Linux is to provide a penetration testing facility for android devices and key elements build up the NetHunter we use for the penetration testing. Here we will look at the different components of NetHunter which essentially are the building blocks of NetHunter’s work. The NetHunter’s ROM is composed of several parts that interact and rely on each other for proper operation. Down below, we will be looking at the three parts that are included in NetHunter, the first being the Android Kernel, which is a customized one, the next being the Kali Linux Chroot, and last but not the least a NetHunter Android app. Let us now look into each of them in detail to understand holistically the working of NetHunter.
- Custom Android Kernel: Kernel is a software component that enables applications to connect to the hardware in order to fulfill the requirements of the user. Apart from enabling the ability to communicate, Kernel also manages the system resources. Now the stock kernels inside android don’t provide all utilities for the sake of security and protection from exploitation, but with a custom android kernel, each device is enabled with unique features that are not available in stock kernels. These custom kernels provide features like HID (keyboard to computer support), OTG wireless support, CD-ROM emulation support, and many other such features that enable a WhiteHat tester to look out for issues that might lead to exploitation or any security breach. These kernels are also capable of providing additional patches or fixes that may be caused as a result of the addition of external wireless devices.
- Kali Linux Chroot: Chroot is essentially a full installation of Kali Linux that enables sharing of network, storage, and other resources with android. The chroot of Kali Linux is essentially the heart of the NetHunter and the configuration files are modified in a way that NetHunter works well with the Android eco-system. NetHunter has a chroot manager that facilitates the download and install of chroot and thus allows sharing of network, storage, and other resources. This component resides in an internal app storage area and one has to comply with the space requirements from the installation.
- NetHunter Android app: The final element of NetHunter is the application that provides a UI to facilitate the tasks required to be done by the user. This application provides a simple interface for managing the Kali Linux chroot. When we mention that it is a simple UI, it doesn’t mean that it is not powerful. The GUI of the application is powerful as well. This application comprises all configuration files that would be required for NetHunter and is copied to sdcard during its first run. Apart from the UI, the application also acts as a bootup service which facilitates running the service when the device starts.
With the above components, we now know the working of NetHunter in Kali Linux.
Why do we need Kali Linux NetHunter?
Now the need of the article is to know why one would need to use NetHunter. To look at this portion of NetHunter we should understand that not everyone might have access to Kali Linux machine and that is where NetHunter might be capable of turning an android device into a Kali Linux machine.
Not only that one might be able to unlock a lot of features on the android device which are not a part of the original stock kernel. Last but not the least, it will allow users, in case they are interested in ethical hacking, to explore different facets of the android device and find any spot of vulnerability to secure the device which they have!
Advantages and Disadvantages
We now have a clear picture of NetHunter’s working along with the need for NetHunter in Kali Linux. Now, let us look at the advantages and disadvantages so that one has a clear picture of what conditions one needs to use NetHunter and in what conditions using NetHunter might not be useful.
- NetHunter propagates features that are not built-in by default in base kernels of android devices.
- Monitor support is enabled in Qualcomm chips in Snapdragon SOCs.
- Presence of kernel builder to facilitate the easy build of kernels that are not yet present to people.
- The release workflows are speeded up by usage of GitLab CI.
- Human Interface Device gadget is fully supported by default and one needs to enable and configure it via userspace controls.
- Not every android device is supported as a part of the official release from NetHunter and hence one needs to be careful while downloading and installing them as in certain conditions the install of the wrong NetHunter might break the phone.
- One might need to use an external USB wifi adapter as some internal wifi doesn’t support the monitor mode or packet injection.
Usage of Kali Linux NetHunter
To use this, we would first need to install the NetHunter app. Once we have installed the application, we would need to install Termux, Hacker’s keyboard, Nethunter Kex client.
Now we need to open the Termux app, and then look if Kex is running or not. If it is running and with no password, we would need to KeX again and enter the required password by executing the command
fg <job id>
Now, to send the KeX back in the background we would need to execute
bg <job id>
With this, you are ready to use NetHunter in android devices!
In this article, we have tried to take you through a wide range of topics on NetHunter in Kali Linux and how it is possible to turn any android device into a Kali Linux environment. We have look at the pros and cons which will enable you to make an informed decision of using NetHunter in the requirement fulfillment.
We hope that this EDUCBA information on “Kali Linux NetHunter” was beneficial to you. You can view EDUCBA’s recommended articles for more information.