Cybercriminals often leverage various phishing lures to attract unwitting users. Similarly, security professionals also rely on the honeypot technique to attract cybercriminals and find their attacking network. Identifying attackers’ hacking courses and paths help security experts build their own strategies to thwart potential cyberattacks.
By Rudra Srinivas, Senior Feature Writer, CISO MAG
What are Honeypots?
A honeypot is a decoy security mechanism used to detect or counteract unauthorized intrusions to critical network systems. They are designed to look like a legitimate system or database to trap attackers trying to break into a system. During the process, the hackers are stealthily observed without the intruder’s knowledge.
The primary function of a honeypot is to expose itself as a potential target (like an unsecured database or system) for online intruders and gather their information to notify the defenders.
Security experts consider honeypot program as the best mechanism to:
- Identify hackers and their attacking vectors
- Collect attackers’ data
- Estimate threat actors movement
- Detect and prevent security incidents
- Understand security defense capabilities
- Implement better security protocols
Usually, a honeypot setup consists of a genuinely looking decoy computer system or a server with dummy applications and data posing as a vulnerable target to exploit. Once an attacker breaks into the honeypot, the security admins can identify how the hackers compromised the target, the hacking techniques they deploy, and how their networks defended or compromised. The honeypot experiment will help organizations identify security loopholes and strengthen the overall cybersecurity defenses.
Types of Honeypots
1. Research Honeypots
Research honeypots are used to analyze hacker activities and developments. Information stored in research honeypots helps security analysts track stolen data and identify various attackers involved in the intrusion.
2. Production Honeypots
These honeypots are placed inside production networks as bait to draw intruders away from the production network. A production honeypot is designed to look like a legitimate part of the production network and contains fake data to attract hackers.
3. Pure Honeypots
Pure honeypots mimic a legitimate production system with mock confidential files and user information, appearing realistic to hackers. Pure honeypots are complex and difficult to maintain.
4. High Interaction Honeypots
High interaction honeypot impersonates the activities of a production system, hosting different applications and services. These honeypots are designed to lure an attacker into gaining root-level access to the database to monitor their actions.
5. Low Interaction Honeypots
Low interaction honeypots are primarily placed in a production environment. These honeypots act as an early security warning mechanism to prevent cyber intrusions. Most organizations or security teams rely on low interaction honeypots as they are easy to deploy and maintain. Though low interaction honeypots are more likely to look fake to intruders, they are good at detecting botnet and malware attacks.
Honeypot – Effective Preventive Measure
Deploying honeypots offer several security advantages to companies that are trying to boost their network defenses. Implementing honeypot technologies help security admins to break the attacker chain and avoid possible cyber risks. Electronics manufacturer Panasonic claimed that it increased its Internet of Things (IoT) security by connecting them to internet honeypots. Panasonic stated that it has been able to find around 179 million attack cases and nearly 25,000 malware samples, of which 4,800 were targeting IoT.
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