Honeypot: A Proactive Deception Defense

4 min read

A honeypot is a system on your network that attracts and reroute hackers away from important data within your network. This is done by convincing intruders that they reach a precious payload while wasting their time with a fake server rather than your live server. Providing security personal additional time to identify malicious activities before they can cause harm.

Any computer connected to the Internet is under constant threats of a malicious attack. Nowadays, more hackers are trying to get inside your network looking for the weakest links.

A honeypot is a perfect decoy. This decoy often contains false information, without providing access to any live data. This is a valuable resource for uncovering information about a potential hacker.

How Does a Honeypot Work?

For a honeypot to work, the design of the system should resemble an authentic server. The system should be created to look as similar as possible to your real servers or databases. One of the major advantages of a honeypot is that allows you to monitor all the steps of an attack.

A honeypot is built to trick attackers into breaking into that fake system instead of the real one. This means that the security controls on your honeypot need to be slightly weaker than on your real server. The balance is essential. Too strong, and attackers won’t be able to make a move. Too weak, and they may suspect a trap.

In a more technical term. A honeypot will:

  • Simulate several virtual hosts at the same time
  • Creates network topologies that simulate a real one
  • Catalog cyberattacks and assign hackers with a passive-fingerprint
  • Simulate various TCP/IP stacks
  • It allows you to Set up real FTP and HTTP servers.
  • It allows running UNIX applications under virtual IP addresses

Types of Honeypots

The difference between honeypots is mainly based on the ability of an attacker to interact with the application or service. First of all, the type of information you gather depends on the kind of honeypot security you have deployed. There are two main types you might find:

Research Honeypot: This is a type of security tool that was designed mainly for researcher purposes. This type of honeypot is run to gather information about the tactics of a potential hacker. Research teams use it to learn some of the tactics of the hacking communities. Therefore spreading awareness of new techniques to prevent threats and promote collaboration within the cybersecurity community.

Production Honeypot: is designed to use in a live environment. This is used to appear real to occupy hackers and draw them away from the real resources. Ultimately giving administrators time to assess and mitigate any vulnerabilities in the real systems.

Above all, the main idea is to learn from attackers and recognize how they move around a live server. A common goal in mind between these types of honeypots.

Benefits of Honeypot Security?

Unlike the common firewall, a honeypot is designed to identify both internal and external threats. While a firewall can prevent attackers from snooping into your network. A honeypot can detect internal threats and become the second line of defense in case of a firewall breach. A honeypot strategy, therefore, will give you greater intelligence and threat detection than a firewall alone. This is an important added layer of security against malware and database attacks.

You might wonder why a honeypot:

  • Why should you spend your time and money setting up a system design to attract hackers?
  • Why should you intentionally create a weak system of defenses?

The answer to those questions is that this system is designed for research purposes. Honeypot security will put your team ahead of the game. While your attackers believe they have made their way into your network. The main idea is to have diverted their attacks to a system with no value. Consequently, your security team will be given an early warning against new and emerging attacks.

The Don’ts

It’s very important to remember that a high-interaction honeypot might create more work for your department. I already covered the benefits of the use of a honeypot for security. On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of honeypots apart from the time taken to set them correctly.

A honeypot is intended to invite attackers to your server, therefore, adding an extra risk and complexity to your IT ecosystem. As with any security tool that exists out there adding honeypot security to your organization will incorporate an extra layer of detection and prevention tools. While carefully configuring all additional security measures to protect your live production environment.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, a honeypot security system can add a valuable layer of security to your IT systems. It gives you an incomparable chance to see hackers in action while learning from their behavior. Therefore, you can use this tool to gather valuable insights on new attack vectors, security weaknesses, and malware. Consequently, use this to better train your staff and defend your network.


Victor Hugo Solis

Master’s Degree in Information Security, a Bachelor’s Degree in Database Administration, and experience as a WordPress Web Designer & Developer.