If you ever had a problem with bees, you will know that putting a pot of honey will attract them to it. In computer security terms, a cyber-honeypot works similarly, baiting a trap for hackers. It's a sacrificial computer system that's intended to attract cyberattacks, like a decoy.
Honeypot mimics a target for hackers and uses their intrusion attempts to gain information about cybercriminals and the way they are operating or distracting them from other targets. So in this blog, you will get in-depth details about Honeypot and why it is important for the user.
What is Honeypot and How It Works?
A honeypot system looks just like a real computer with applications and data on it. This tool was made to fool hackers into believing that it is a real computer. A good example of it would be a honeypot mimicking an organization’s billing system, trying to make cybercriminals attack it to gain access to users’ credit card numbers. Once the hackers get access to said system, they can be tracked, and their attacks could be analyzed to make the entire network more secure.
Honeypots attract cyber criminals because they are purposefully built with security vulnerabilities. For example, a honeypot might have ports that respond to a port scan or weak passwords. Vulnerable ports might be left open to trick attackers into attempting to hack the honeypot environment rather than the more secure live network.
A honeypot is not set up to address a specific problem, such as a firewall or antivirus. Instead, it's an information tool that can help you understand existing threats to your business and spot the emergence of new threats. With the intelligence obtained from a honeypot, security efforts can be prioritized and focused.
But there are several types of honeypots out there that work differently from one another. If you learn about these honeypots, you can recognize their nature and benefits as well.
Types of Honeypot
Different types of honeypots can be used to identify different types of threats. Various honeypot definitions are based on the threat type that's addressed. All of them have a place in a thorough and effective cybersecurity strategy. Let’s take a look at the below section to know about each of the honeypots kinds that save users from millions of cyberattacks.
Email Traps or Spam Traps
Spam traps or email traps are a management tool for fraud detection that mainly help your Internet Service Provider to block spam messages. These traps make your inbox safer by eliminating vulnerabilities. They place a fake email address in a hidden location where only an automated address harvester will find it. Since the address isn't used for any purpose other than the spam trap, it's 100% certain that any mail coming to it is spam. If the email was legit it would come to your real email address and won’t fall for the spam trap. There are a few types of spam traps: Username typos, expired email accounts, and purchased email lists. The spam filters in the trap will detect typos in the username. And the other two types include using abandoned email addresses and invalid email addresses that will trap the spam emails instead of redirecting them to your real email account. Users can automatically block all messages containing the same content as those sent to the spam trap. Users can also add the source IP of the senders to a blacklist.
A decoy database can be set up to monitor software vulnerabilities and spot attacks exploiting insecure system architecture or using SQL injection, SQL services exploitation, or privilege abuse. A honeypot created for the database is ElasticHoney. It catches malicious requests that try to attack the RCE vulnerabilities. Most decoy database for honeypot systems work on Windows and Linux computers and is written in Python, Java, or any other popular computing languages.
A malware honeypot mimics software apps and APIs to invite malware attacks. The characteristics of the malware can then be analyzed to develop anti-malware software or to close vulnerabilities in the API. However, if you want some easy ways to remove malware from your Windows device without using a malware honeypot, some easy steps will completely eradicate them from your device.
A spider honeypot is intended to trap web crawlers (i.e., spiders) by creating web pages and links only accessible to crawlers. Detecting crawlers can help you learn how to block malicious bots, as well as ad-network crawlers.
High-Interaction and Low-Interaction Honeypots
A honeypot can either be high-interaction or low-interaction. Low-interaction honeypots use fewer resources and collect basic information about the level and type of threat and where it is coming from. They are easy and quick to set up, usually with just some basic simulated TCP and IP protocols and network services. However, there's nothing in the honeypot to engage the attacker for very long. Thus, you won't get in-depth information on their habits or complex threats.
On the other hand, high-interaction honeypots aim to get hackers to spend as much time as possible within the honeypot, giving plenty of information about their intentions and targets, as well as the vulnerabilities they are exploiting. Think of it as a honeypot with added 'glue' - databases, systems, and processes that can engage an attacker for much longer. It enables researchers to track where attackers go in the system to find sensitive information, what tools they use to escalate privileges, or what exploits they use to compromise the system.
High-interaction honeypots are, however, resource-hungry. It is more difficult and time-consuming to set them up and monitor them. They can also create a risk; if they're not secured with a 'Honeywell, a determined and cunning hacker could use a high-interaction honeypot to attack other internet hosts or send spam from a compromised machine.
The usages of honeypots are mostly done for your cybersecurity purposes. There are some reasons why they are widely used by internet service providers to protect their users’ internet privacy and security.
Why are Honeypots Used in Cybersecurity?
For a good hacker-trapping system, both types of honeypots have to be used. Utilizing a blend of both, you can refine the basic information on threat types that comes from the low-interaction honeypots by adding information on intentions, communications, and exploits from the high-interaction honeypot.
By cyber honeypots to create a threat intelligence framework, a business can ensure that it targets its cybersecurity spend at the right places and can see where it has weak security points. Have a look at the reasons how using honeypots can benefit a business or individual.
Benefits of Honeypots
Honeypots can be a good way to expose vulnerabilities in major systems. For instance, a honeypot can show the high level of threat posed by attacks on IoT devices. It can also suggest ways in which security could be improved. Using a honeypot has several advantages over trying to spot intrusion in the entire system. For instance, by definition, a honeypot shouldn't get any legitimate traffic, so any activity logged is likely to be a probe or intrusion attempt.
That makes it much easier to spot patterns, such as similar IP addresses (or IP addresses all coming from one country) being used to carry out a network sweep. By contrast, such tell-tale signs of an attack are easy to lose in the noise when you are looking at high levels of legitimate traffic on your core network. The big advantage of using honeypot security is that these malicious addresses might be the only ones you see, making the attack much easier to identify.
Because honeypots handle very little traffic, they are also resourced light. They don't make great demands on hardware. It's even possible to set up a honeypot using old computers that you don't use anymore. As for software, many ready-written honeypots are available from online repositories, further reducing the amount of in-house effort necessary to get a honeypot up and running.
Honeypots have a low false-positive rate. That's in stark contrast to traditional intrusion-detection systems (IDS), producing a high level of false alerts. Again, that helps prioritize efforts and keeps the resource demand from a honeypot at a low level. In fact, by using the data collected by honeypots and correlating it with other system and firewall logs, the IDS can be configured with more relevant alerts to produce fewer false positives. In that way, honeypots can help refine and improve other cybersecurity systems.
However, benefits are not the only thing that these honeypots offer. There are some disadvantages as well.
Disadvantages of Honeypots
Yes, there are plenty of benefits of using honeypots but these advantages also come with some risks. For example, the high-interaction honeypots are not easy to maintain and they can require a lot of resources as well. Here are some of the disadvantages of honeypots that you should remember:
- If the honeypot is not effectively isolated it can work against your system environment. Hackers can use it negatively to attack your real network.
- A honeypot can only figure out spam or malicious activities when they are directly attacked and when a hacker figures out the honeypot, he can easily use it against the system to enter into the network.
- If there are any misspelt error messages in a honeypot, the attackers can fingerprint it. These hackers have the ability to distract the authorities of an organization with false attack alarms on the honeypots. And in the meantime, they can execute the real attack on the network.
Even with all these disadvantages, using honeypots for your business is a good decision. Because the advantages always outweigh the downsides when it comes to honeypots for cybersecurity.
It was a brief explanation of Honeypot as we have included all details regarding this particular technology. We hope that the given information helped you to understand everything about Honeypot. However, if you have any doubts, then please do comment down below. Besides that, we have listed multiple blog posts, so make sure you check out all of them to grab a deeper understanding of honeypots and their use scenarios.
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