Tools of the Trade: An Introduction to Parrot Security

Soren Kraus

ParrotOS offers various editions tailored to different needs, such as Parrot Home (for daily use), Parrot Architect (for custom installations), and Parrot Security. While each edition serves a specific purpose, the focus of this blog will be on Parrot Security. This operating system stands tall as an all-in-one platform for various security tasks, providing an environment specifically designed to give penetration testers the ability to conduct an entire assessment, from beginning to report, with nothing but a Parrot ISO and a laptop.

System Requirements

To ensure the smooth operation of Parrot Security, there are certain system requirements that users should be aware of. At a minimum, Parrot Security requires a Dual Core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 20 GB of available storage space.

While these are the basic requirements, for optimal performance when running multiple tools or virtual machines simultaneously, a more powerful machine setup with additional RAM and a faster multi-core processor is recommended.

Interface Overview

Desktop Environment

Parrot Security uses the MATE Desktop Environment by default, though there are multiple options for users to choose from. MATE provides an intuitive and responsive interface that appeals to both beginners and experienced users. Its uncluttered design and customizability make it an excellent choice for Parrot Security, allowing users to focus on the tasks at hand without unnecessary distractions.


Whether you prefer a minimalistic appearance or a vibrant look, Parrot Security gives you the tools to make it your own. Through the “Look and Feel” menus, users can change themes, background wallpapers, fonts, and visual effects. Additionally, the arrangement and functionality of panels and windows can be adjusted to suit individual preferences. This ability to tailor the interface allows users to create an environment that not only reflects their personality but also enhances their efficiency and comfort while working on their system.

"Look and Feel" Settings
"Look and Feel" settings

Tools and Applications


Parrot Security stands out due to its extensive collection of 600+ tools tailored for penetration testing, reporting, computer forensics, and various cyber-security research tasks. This ensures that security professionals and enthusiasts have a ready-to-use environment, equipped with a vast array of resources to tackle the task at hand.

Core Features

The operating system includes the full LibreOffice suite, facilitating everyday document creation and editing needs. In the information gathering and vulnerability analysis categories, numerous tools are readily available, giving users the capability to perform in-depth reconnaissance and identify potential system weaknesses. This foundation is further built on by a vast arsenal of exploitation utilities, focused on probing and compromising vulnerable systems.

Information Gathering subsection
Information Gathering subsection

Analysis and Development

For those delving into digital assets, Parrot Security offers a range of tools dedicated to digital forensics and reverse engineering. This ensures that experts can effectively analyze software and extract critical digital evidence. Additionally, to cater to developers and scriptwriters, it comes with preinstalled programming environments.

Security and Privacy Features


AnonSurf allows users to route their entire system traffic through the Tor network, granting a higher level of anonymity when browsing the web or conducting online operations. By anonymizing the user's online presence, it helps protect sensitive tasks and research, therefore making it harder for third parties to trace activities back to the user.

Connecting to the Tor network with AnonSurf
Connecting to the Tor network with AnonSurf
Address after using the “Change Identity” button
Address after using the “Change Identity” button

Firejail and AppArmor

Firejail is a lightweight SUID sandbox program that helps reduce the risk of system compromise by restricting the environment in which untrusted programs operate. With its easy setup, Firejail isolates various applications, allowing them to run in a private space, separated from the rest of the system.

AppArmor is a Linux Security Module that provides mandatory access controls (MAC) for programs. It protects the operating system and applications from external or internal threats by enforcing pre-defined security profiles. When used in combination, Firejail and AppArmor offer a comprehensive layer of security, ensuring that applications run within well-defined boundaries and don't pose unnecessary risks to the user’s system.

Comparison with Other Security Distributions

Comparing Distributions (Kali Linux)

When comparing popular penetration testing distributions, Kali Linux and Parrot Security are often mentioned together due to their Debian roots and their rich offering of penetration testing tools. Kali Linux stands as possibly the most renowned in this arena, emphasizing offensive security with a vast compilation of tools catered to this approach.

Parrot Security offers a broader spectrum, encompassing not just penetration testing instruments but also utilities designed for privacy, cryptography, and forensic analysis. For newcomers to cybersecurity, Parrot Security might seem more inviting thanks to its user-centric interface. In contrast, Kali Linux can be seen as offering a purer, raw experience, often resonating with veterans in the field.

Discussing Pros and Cons

Among its strengths, Parrot Security boasts an extensive and diverse toolset, which makes it more than just a penetration testing distribution. Its commitment to user privacy and anonymity is evident with integrated tools like Tor Browser and Anonsurf. Additionally, its lightweight build provides compatibility with a wide array of hardware, including dated systems.

On the flip side, Parrot Security may not have as large of a community backing as distributions like Kali Linux, and the expansive range of features, despite its user-friendly interface, might daunt novices. The decision to go with Parrot Security or another distribution ultimately depends on individual requirements, inclinations, and the nature of current tasks.


Parrot Security stands as a formidable contender in the realm of penetration testing distributions, offering a comprehensive operating system that addresses a multitude of cybersecurity needs. With its flexible system requirements, MATE Desktop Environment, and a vast array of tools catering to penetration testing, forensics, and cybersecurity research, it distinguishes itself as a holistic solution for cybersecurity professionals and enthusiasts.

Parrot’s emphasis on user customization and its integrated privacy tools shows its commitment to providing a seamless and secure user experience. While the choice of distribution is subjective, it's no doubt that Parrot Security brings a balanced blend of power, versatility, and customizability to the table, making it a compelling choice for those seeking an all-encompassing operating system.

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