Network security tools help a network administrator test a network for weaknesses. Some tools allow an administrator to assume the role of an attacker. Using one of these tools, an administrator can launch an attack against the network and audit the results to determine how to adjust security policies to mitigate those types of attacks. Security auditing and penetration testing are two basic functions that network security tools perform.

Network security testing techniques may be manually initiated by the administrator. Other tests are highly automated. Regardless of the type of testing, the staff that sets up and conducts the security testing should have extensive security and networking knowledge. This includes expertise in the following areas: