Generally in cyber security competitions, it is up to you and your team to determine what software to use. In some cases you may even end up creating new tools to give you an edge! That being said, here are some applications that we recommend for most competitors for most competitions.
Ghidra is a disassembler and decompiler that is open source and free to use. Released by the NSA, Ghidra is a capable tool and is the recommended disassembler for most use cases. An alternative is IDA Pro (a cyber security industry standard), however IDA Pro is not free and licenses are very expensive.
Binary Ninja is a commercial disassembler (with a free demo application) that provides an aesthetic and easy to use interface for binary reverse engineering. It also has a Web-UI which can be used freely. Binary Ninja’s API and intermediate language make it superior than other disassemblers for certain use cases.
Pwndbg is a plugin for the GNU Debugger (gdb) which makes it easier to dynamically reverse an application by stepping through its execution. In order to use pwndbg you will first need to have gdb installed via a Linux virtual machine or similar.
WinDbg is a debugger for Windows applications.
Burp Suite is an HTTP proxy and set of tools which allow you to view, edit and replay your HTTP requests. While Burp Suite is a commercial tool, it offers a free version which is very capable and usually all that’s needed.
sqlmap is a penetration testing tool that automates hte process of detecting and exploiting SQL injection flaws. It’s open source and freely available.
Google Chrome is a web browser with a suite of developer tools and extensions. These tools and extensions can be useful when investigating a web application.
Wireshark is a PCAP analysis tool which allows you to analyze and record network traffic.
VMware is a company that creates virtualization software that allows you to run other operating systems within your existing operating system. While their products are not generally free, their software is best in class for virtualization.
VMWare Fusion, VMWare Workstation, and VMWare Player are three of their virtualization products that can be used on your computer to run other OS’es. VMWare Player is free to use for Windows and Linux.
VirtualBox is open source virtualization software which allows you to virtualize other operating systems. It’s very similar to VMWare products but free for all OS’es. It is generally slower than VMWare but works well enough for most people.
Python is an easy-to-learn, widely used programming language which supports complex applications as well as small scripts. It has a large community which provides thousands of useful packages. Python is widely used in the cyber security industry and is generally the recommended language to use in CTF competition.
Pwntools is a Python package which makes interacting with processes and networks easy. It is a recommended library for interacting with binary exploitation and networking based CTF challenges.