One of the most common definitions of the term honeypot comes from the field of espionage, where spies are characterized as honey traps or honeypots, similar to Mata Hari-like spies who form emotional and romantic relationships to obtain classified information and secrets. Often the cover of an enemy spy or agent is blown by a honey trap or a honeypot. The enemy agent is then blackmailed to obtain information and plans.
In computer systems, the structure that we can call a cyber honeypot works with similar logic. With the honeypot, traps are set for cyber attackers and hackers. A computer system can be used as bait to lure cyber attackers into the honeypot trap. Their targets are imitated to provide better credibility against the attackers. Afterward, important information such as their working systems and objectives is obtained from the cyber attackers who fall into the honeypot trap. At the same time, the targets of the attackers are also confused with the honeypot. In this way, attackers are removed from the systems, and information is protected.
A honeypot is a security measure used to protect computer systems and networks. It is designed to resemble a type of trap and is created to attract and track malicious attackers.
Honeypots are used as server or network resources that look like real systems but contain fake or forged data instead of a real productive workload. Attackers attempt to break into the system or access sensitive information by attacking these fake resources. Honeypots are preferred to monitor the activities of attackers, understand their attack methods and objectives, and develop defense measures.
Honeypots can be of different types and have different levels of complexity. Some honeypot traps with high interactivity can interact with attackers and monitor their behavior in more detail while honeypots with low interactivity are more passive and only function to record attack attempts.
What Are Honeypots Used for?
Honeypots can be used for many different purposes. The most common uses of honey cubes are as follows:
- Gathering Information about Threats
- Identifying Attackers
- Usage Analysis
Gathering Information about Threats
Honeypots can be used to detect and analyze new attack methods of attackers. This way, security experts can learn more about attacks and update protection measures.
The honeypot attracts attackers on the network, allowing them to be detected.
Honeypot systems can be used to understand how attackers behave and what methods they use. This information can be valuable for preventing attacks and developing more effective defense strategies against attackers.
Honeypots are a widely used tool in computer security, but they must be configured and operated correctly. Otherwise, a misconfigured or outdated honeypot can damage real systems or networks.
How Do Honeypots Work?
To deceive cyber attackers, the honeypot, which is presented as a legitimate target, is made to look like a real computer system with different applications and information. For instance, a company or organization that is subjected to a lot of attacks can have its customer billing structures identified and forged for attackers whose goal is to identify victims' credit card numbers.
Hackers and attackers can be observed once they start to infiltrate. The conclusions and findings drawn from the behavior of these criminals are analyzed, and relevant security measures are developed accordingly.
Honeypots are made more attractive targets for malicious actors by creating planned vulnerabilities and deficiencies in the system. For instance, any honeypot may have ports that respond to port scanning or weak passwords. Vulnerable and missing ports can work to lure the honeypot into the honeypot trap instead of the more secure and prime target, the main network.
What Are the Types of Honeypots?
Different types of honeypots have been developed to counter different types of attacks. The definitions of honeypots vary according to the type of attack they target. All type have their place in a comprehensive and effective cybersecurity strategy. These honeypot types are as follows:
- Email Traps
- Fake Database Trap
- Spider Honeypot
- Honeypot for Malware
Email traps or spam traps are placed as non-real email addresses in a hidden location that only automated address collectors can find. Since this spoofed address is not used for any purpose other than as a spam trap, any email that arrives at this address is almost certainly spam. All messages sent to the trap with the same content are automatically blocked. At the same time, the IP addresses which are used by the senders can be added to a blacklist.
Fake Database Trap
Mock databases can be created to monitor software and programs for security deficiencies, exploitation of insufficiently secure system structures, or other types of attacks such as SQL injection, exploitation of SQL services or privilege abuse. The monitored data can then be used to improve security measures.
Spider honeypots aim to catch web spiders by generating websites and links that can only be reached through web spiders. Detecting spiders blocks malicious bots as well as spiders from advertising networks.
Honeypot for Malware
Any honeypot developed for malware contains an imitation of software and APIs to attract attacks. The malware's attributes are then scrutinized to develop software to protect against it or to address security flaws in the API.
What Can Be Inferred from Traffic to Honeypot Traps?
The following data can be evaluated with the traffic to honeypot systems:
- The source of cyber attackers can be learned.
- Threat level can be determined.
- It can be learned which type of attack the attackers are using.
- Which data and applications are of interest.
- How well or poorly security measures work.
Today, companies and firms may prefer to use honeypot traps to protect themselves from attacks. Honeypot traps are seen as one of the most important obstacles in front of cyber attackers.