For enquiries call:

Phone

+1-469-442-0620

HomeBlogSecurityWhat is a Honeypot? Types, Benefits, Risks and Best Practices

What is a Honeypot? Types, Benefits, Risks and Best Practices

Published
05th Sep, 2023
Views
view count loader
Read it in
17 Mins
In this article
    What is a Honeypot? Types, Benefits, Risks and Best Practices

    Wouldn't it be great if you could beat hackers at their own game? In order to detect and study how hackers steal information, cyber-attackers use honeypots. Honeypots are most likely used by organizations and corporations involved in cybersecurity. Check out the best Ethical Hacking course online for live projects and advanced concepts on honeypots.

    What is Honeypot Cyber Security?

    Software used as bait for luring hackers into honeypots is called honeypot software. Hackers are particularly interested in applications and data that act like legitimate computer systems, contain sensitive data, and are not secure. By creating an open or otherwise deliberately vulnerable decoy, honeypots will misdirect cyberattacks away from critical IT systems. Data and files are fabricated and mimicked from those systems. 

    Security analysts can better understand cybercriminals' intentions, their methods and their goals by monitoring traffic to honeypot systems. When honeypots are monitored, it can be determined whether certain security measures are working, or if they should be improved. 

    Furthermore, honeypots serve as real-time observation systems that assist IT security professionals in understanding cybercriminals' attacks. It provides organizations with the ability to detect unauthorized access and usage. As a result, they can gather crucial information about the attackers. access and usage. As a result, they can gather crucial information about the attackers. 

    Why use honeypots?

    Although honeypot software is expensive, it has numerous advantages, including data collection, circumvention of encryption, and improved cybersecurity detection. The reliability of honeypots comes from the fact that they should only be accessed by cyber attackers, thus preventing false positives like those produced by other detection technologies. 

    Honeypots are not only cost-saving, but also extremely efficient. Instead of spending time and money hunting for hackers, honeypots wait for hackers while pretending to be legitimate targets. As a result, you can be able to keep hackers on your system for longer when they think they've successfully hacked your system to steal sensitive information. 

    To help understand better, honeypots help organizations in the following ways: 

    • Evaluate the latest attack trends, 
    • Identify the original sources of cyberattacks, and 
    • Defining security policies in a way that mitigates future risks.  

    What is a Honeynet? (A Network of Honeypots)

    An intrusion detection network for hackers is called a honeynet. The interface mimics a network packed with valuable resources with the same look, feel, and functionality. In addition, honeywalls are included for studying the hahacker's virtual moments. As traffic flows into and out of networks, honeywalls direct it to honeypots. Embedded systems in honeynets can serve as entry points for attackers. Honeynets divert attackers from real networks by gathering intelligence about them.

    Honeynets are, therefore, better solutions for large, complex networks because they create an alternative corporate network that attackers can use. Your security setup can be strengthened based on those results. 

    How Does a Honeypot Work in Cybersecurity?

    By pretending to be a real computer system, the honeypot deceives cybercriminals into thinking it's a legitimate target. For instance, cybercriminals are more likely to target credit or debit card numbers through billing systems, so a honeypot could mimic a company's billing system. As soon as the hackers are in, their behavior can be assessed to determine how to strengthen the real network.

    The deliberate inclusion of security vulnerabilities in honeypots makes them attractive to attackers. Cybercriminals, for example, exploit vulnerable ports such as weak password files to gain access to an organization. Consequently, it is possible to set up a honeypot as a vulnerable port to attract attackers to the honeypot rather than the live network, which is more secure.

    Honeypots aren't signed to solve specific problems, like firewalls or anti-virus software. The tool helps you identify emerging threats to your business and understand existing threats. A honeypot provides intelligence that can be used to prioritize and focus security efforts.

    Benefits of Using a Cybersecurity Honeypot

    1. Combining honeypots with firewalls and other security solutions can help protect networks from hackers.  
    2. Every organization would benefit from implementing a honeypot, but make sure to assess both the advantages and disadvantages since the effort may not be worth it in the long run. 
    3. In contrast to firewalls, honeypots identify both internal and external threats. Many companies have difficulty detecting attacks from within.  
    4. By utilizing honeypots, IT security teams can protect themselves from attacks that firewalls cannot prevent.  
    5. The implementation of honeypots has been found to provide considerable benefits in terms of protecting against external and internal attacks. 

    Explore IT security Training Courses on KnowledgeHut and prepare yourself against cybercrime! 

    Different Types of Honeypots

    There are different types of honeypots available. Some are used for specific types of attacks, and others are used to attract various malware authors. Most of the time, attackers find the same vulnerabilities in honeypots as other operating systems and applications. However, some unique features make one type of honeypot better than another. 

    1. Types of Honeypots Based on Purpose

    (i) Research honeypots (with Examples) 

    A research honeypot is a device used by researchers for analyzing hacker attacks and devising different approaches to prevent them. 

    (ii) Production honeypots (with Examples) 

    Among your organization's production servers, production honeypots are located on your internal network. Despite the intent to gain insights into active attacks, honeypots typically have less data and are less complex than research honeypots. Hackers are deterred from attacking your legitimate servers by identifying and distracting them from active attacks on the internal network. Among your organization's production servers, production honeypots are located on your internal network. Despite the intent to gain insights into active attacks, honeypots typically have less data and are less complex than research honeypots. Hackers are deterred from attacking your legitimate servers by identifying and distracting them from active attacks on the internal network. 

    2. Types of Honeypots Based by Activity Type

    (i) Email honeypots (How they work) 

    In email honeypots, spammers are caught in the act with email addresses specifically set up for this purpose. A honeypot trap is usually a dormant email account; the logic is that who sends to a dead email box must be a spammer if they cannot opt-in. 

    The spam filter automatically sends emails into the spam folder if the username contains a typo caused by human or machine error. Email addresses that are misspelled are included. For instance jane.doe@applle.com instead of the real jane.doe@apple.com. 

    Email Honeypots examples are Honeymail, Mailoney, and SpamHAT 

    (ii) Database Honeypots (How they work) 

    Database honeypots are designed to attract attacks based on specific database characteristics, such as SQL injection. Such attacks are often undetectable by firewalls. Database firewalls and honeypot systems are used to divert attackers away from the actual database. 

    Database Honeypots examples are ElasticHoney, HoneyMysql, and MongoDB-HoneyProxy 

    (iii) Malware Honeypots (How they work) 

    As the name implies, honeypot malware simulates vulnerable apps, APIs, and systems with the aim of obtaining malware attacks. As a result of the data collection, effective malware detectors can be created by recognizing malware patterns. 

    (iv) Spider Honeypots (How they work) 

    Web crawlers are the only ones who can access these fake web pages and links. It's usually used to block malicious bots and ad-network crawlers after they access the honeypot with their headers. Web crawlers are the only ones who can access these fake web pages and links. It's usually used to block malicious bots and ad-network crawlers after they access the honeypot with their headers. 

    (v) HoneyBots (How they work) 

    University researchers are the ones who study or test the HoneyBot. HoneyBots are an alternative to static honeybots because the bait moves. Cybercriminals evolve along with honeypots. Due to their inability to interact with hackers, honeypots are a trap. Through interactions with HoneyBot, hackers can simulate legit systems to fool them. 

    As a result, hackers spend a lot of time and resources exploiting HoneyBot. Further, they give their identifying information away to the targets they are attempting to attack. 

    3. Types of Honeypots Based on Complexity

    (i) Pure honeypots (with Examples) 

    Multiple servers are required to run a pure honeypot. There is a complete replication of the production system. The sensors in a honeypot are used to track data that's made to appear confidential and monitor attacker activity. 

    (ii) Low-interaction Honeypot (with Examples) 

    As they simulate services most likely to be requested by attackers, honeypots with low interaction provide very limited insight and control. Since low-interaction systems don't interact with the main operating system, they pose less risk. Deploying them is very easy, and they require very few resources. The biggest disadvantage of honeypots is that experienced hackers can detect and avoid them easily.As they simulate services most likely to be requested by attackers, honeypots with low interaction provide very limited insight and control. Since low-interaction systems don't interact with the main operating system, they pose less risk. Deploying them is very easy, and they require very few resources. The biggest disadvantage of honeypots is that experienced hackers can detect and avoid them easily. 

    (iii) Mid-Interaction Honeypot (with Examples) 

    The hacker can do more activities on medium interaction honeypots than on low interaction honeypots. The honeypots are designed to provide certain types of activities and responses beyond those you would expect from a low-interaction honeypot. 

    (iv) High-interaction Honeypot (with Examples) 

    Honeypots with high interaction provide many opportunities. They waste the hackers' time by offering a wide range of services and activities, and they attempt to obtain all the information they have. In the event that hackers detect these honeypots, they are comparatively risky since they involve the real-time operating system. Honeypots with high interaction are also expensive and complicated to set up. In spite of that, it provides us with a wealth of information about hackers. Honeypots with high interaction provide many opportunities. They waste the hackers' time by offering a wide range of services and activities, and they attempt to obtain all the information they have. In the event that hackers detect these honeypots, they are comparatively risky since they involve a real-time operating system. Honeypots with high interaction are also expensive and complicated to set up. In spite of that, it provides us with a wealth of information about hackers.

    Honeypot Applications

    Implementing a honeypot application has proven to be the most suitable approach. Interactions occur at different levels between different systems. It is easier to gather information about a hacker and the objective of the hack, and the more exchange the hacker is enabled to have. Although more implementations are needed, that may result in higher setup and maintenance costs. 

    Here is a list of applications that Honeypot offers the user: 

    • Any major system, like Blockchain, can be assessed for vulnerabilities using honeypots. With the help of this tool, developers can also improve security methods. 
    • One can perform an effective threat analysis with the help of honeypots. A threat can be classified by its IP address and purpose for scanning a network. 
    • The lack of traffic makes honeypots resource-light. These honeypots are not able to detect legitimate traffic. Due to this, One can easily set up honeypots with low-cost hardware. 

    Honeypot detection could, however, enable hackers to escape the honeypot network. This allows them to access legitimate data and hack unprotected data. Thus, it is critical to install the correct honeypot application. 

    Honeypots Detection Techniques

    When an attacker attempts to break into a system, honeypots are utilized to track or attack them. Honeypots can be detected on a network if services are propped up. A malicious packet can be created using HTTPS, SMTPS, etc.  

    For instance, one can detect honeypots on ports that should run services by denying three-way handshakes. 

    In addition to using multi-proxies (TORs) and encryption for hiding conversations, attackers may be able to defeat honeypots by employing encryption techniques.  

    Honeypots Detection Tools

    Attackers detect honeypots in target organizations by using honeypot detection tools. Security analysts can also benefit from this tool. Before deploying honeypot systems in production or online, they could use it to scan them for such features. It would be helpful for such tools to generate a report detailing their findings and the severity of their results so that one can take appropriate action. 

    1. Kippo

    By using Kippo, an attacker can engage in an SSH session with the server, assuming it is a legitimate one. Once the attacker guesses the password successfully, they are moved into a fake system where they can interact. The fake system implements monitoring and recording all interactions.  

    2. Cowrie

    Honeypots such as Cowrie are used for logging brute force attacks and shell interactions conducted by an attacker over SSH and Telnet. In addition to acting as an SSH and telnet proxy, Cowrie allows you to observe attacker behavior on another computer. Kippo led to Cowrie's development. 

    3. Send-Sage Honeypot Hunter

    This tool checks HTTPS and SOCKS proxy lists for honeypots using Send-Safe Honeypot Hunter. A honeypot is a fake proxy server that bulkers use to log traffic through and then complain to their ISPs about bulkers.

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Honeypot

    As attackers scan your network and look for vulnerabilities, they move through your environment like predators. One can enhance network safety by leveraging honeypot benefits: 

    • By collecting data from actual attacks and unauthorized activities, honeypot network security can provide analysts with valuable information. 
    • Despite encryption, honeypot detection can capture malicious activity. 
    • Using honeypots, you can keep track of information continuously and deflect cyberattacks. Thus, the cybersecurity team has to record what types of attacks are occurring and how they evolve over time. 
    • Honeypots are used to identify threats both within and outside the organization. Honeypots can attract inside attackers who are trying to access sensitive data or IP. Cybersecurity techniques often focus on threats from outside an organization. 
    • A honeypot is a good investment because it only interacts with malicious activities and requires no high-performance resources to analyze large volumes of network traffic.

    The honeypot technology does have several disadvantages, such as: 

    • An attack is the only time honeypots collect information; thus, in the absence of attempts to access the honeypot, one can interpret no data. 
    • Due to its distinct nature, experienced attackers can easily identify the honeypot system. 
    • The honeypot software only detects direct attacks; it has a narrow field of view. 
    • Some high-level hackers can achieve the ability to distinguish between a honeypot trapping and an actual production system with the use of system fingerprinting techniques.

    What Is Honeypot Network Security & How to Use It?

    Hackers exploit honeypot assets by connecting them to the internet-or even to the organization's internal network-and exposing them. You can choose a relatively simple set-up or a complex one based on the type of activity you are studying. Hackers exploit honeypot assets by connecting them to the internet-or even to the organization's internal network-and exposing them. You can choose a relatively simple set-up or a complex one based on the type of activity you are studying. 

    An attacker is lured into a honeypot network environment in order to: Take a look at their needs, what are their approach to achieving their goals, and find out what you can do to stop them. 

    Various commercial and open-source software tools can assist in the deployment of honeypots. Setting up one of these traps on an enterprise network involves four steps, regardless of which one an organization chooses: 

    1. Installation of Honeypot Server

    It is essential to create a suitable environment before implementing a honeypot. A honeypot can be hosted on a physical or virtual server. However, the great benefit of a virtual machine is that it can be quickly shut down and recreated if it is compromised.

    If you wish to install the honeypots on a physical server, one should take the following precautions:  

    • Use a different account that doesn't have the critical file data attached. 
    • Use decoy data to make it look legit. 
    • Network isolation is required for the physical server. 

    2. Ensure that firewall policy are configured, and logging is enabled.

    There is no firewall surrounding the honeypot itself; it is located in the DMZ, outside the internal firewall. All ports other than those required for accessing the honeypot should be closed on the external firewall. Traffic will be directed away from the internal network behind the firewall and toward the open network where the honeypot is located. 

    3. Honeypot configuration

    Honeypots are vulnerable, unlike internal firewalls. Inviting attackers in should be possible through several ports. It is extremely imperative, however, that administrators do not open all ports. The attackers are then aware that they are not on a critical server, and will either leave the honeypot or manipulate it to their advantage. 

    4. Testing

    Administrators should check the server logs to ensure everything is logged properly. A port scanning attempt can be blocked by an IDS and shown as unavailable, alerting the attacker that the port is defended. Before deploying a honeypot, the admin should resolve these issues. If there is anything that prevents attackers from getting into the honeypot and capturing all information they can, that should be removed. Once the honeypot has been tested, deploy it in production, monitor it closely and tweak the configuration as necessary.

    Are you looking to enhance your IT skills? Discover the comprehensive ITIL Full Course that will take your knowledge to new heights. Join us now and unlock your potential!

    Future of Honeypot Technologies

    Even though honeypots are such an interesting technology, the security community is slow to adopt them. Among the newest technologies in the security field, honeypots hold enormous potential. In order to gain more information about an attacker and his attack techniques, this resource is intended to be attacked and compromised. In many shapes and sizes, they are highly flexible tools. 

    Honeypots are useful for gaining visibility into the network and defending against attacks that are not prevented by firewalls. Honeypots provide substantial benefits and have been implemented by many organizations to combat internal and external threats. In most cases, attackers are relentless and won't stop until they gain access to the real deal if they've been duped. Therefore, honeypot networks need to be protected from attackers as soon as they are aware of their presence. 

    Conclusion

    Providing alerts and information regarding an attacker's behavior is easy with honeypots. When an attacker interacts with honeypots, your security team can remain alert. For a decoy environment to be effective, you don't have to monitor it or provide intelligence about known threats constantly. In organizations with high data security risks, honeypot software is highly recommended. Find out more about the KnowledgeHut's Best Ethical Hacking course online!

    Honeypot FAQs

    1What is the main advantage of a honeypot?

    A honeypot mimics potential targets of cyberattacks by connecting to vulnerable networks. It attracts, detects, and prevents cybercriminals from hacking legitimate targets. When hackers hack into these decoy computers, security administrators have access to information about cybercriminals' attempts to breach information systems. The system is protected from actual attacks by this method. 

    2Is honeypot a software or hardware?

    Honeypots are software applications that lure hackers into a trap. When it comes to honeypot solutions, there are many options to choose from. The leading honeypot detection software is Glastopf and KFSensor.

    3What are the dangers of honeypots?

    A honeypot has a narrow field of view; it only sees what is directed at it. When an attacker gains access to your network and attacks multiple systems, honeypots remain unaware of their activities unless it is a direct attack.

    4What are the three levels of honeypot interaction?

    Low, medium, and high interactions are the three types of honeypot interaction.


    5How do hackers use honeypots?

    In real-time hacking attempts, honeypots can be accessed by anyone, including companies like NorseCorp. A honeypot can also be used by hackers to spy on rival hackers, in hopes of obtaining identifying information from their adversaries accidentally. The use of honeypots in law enforcement is aimed at catching criminals. NATO also uses honeypots to lure hostile hackers into divulging their tools, techniques, and command structures.

    Profile

    Shweta Lakhwani

    Author

    Shweta Lakhwani runs a travel business - "Voyage Planner" based in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), India. In addition, she is a freelance writer and wins her clients with her creative writing skill. She creates content on various topics such as travel, entertainment, self-help, science, education, information technology (IT), cryptocurrency, insurance, medical, real estate, personal growth, business development, health care, and lifestyle. She is also a Brand Ambassador at the Isla Ida Bracelet and a partner at the Eden Reforestation Projects. She advocates free and life-changing travel experiences while positively influencing the planet.

    Share This Article
    Ready to Master the Skills that Drive Your Career?

    Avail your free 1:1 mentorship session.

    Select
    Your Message (Optional)

    Upcoming Cyber Security Batches & Dates

    NameDateFeeKnow more
    Course advisor icon
    Course Advisor
    Whatsapp/Chat icon