How can we define honeypots?
A honeypot is essentially a computer system. In this computer system, there exists files and directories just like any other usual computer system. A honeypot aims to attract an attacker to fall into its trap for it to investigate his actions and follow his behavior. In fact, a honeypot is not an actual system yet; it is a fake system. The difference between a honeypot and other security systems lies in the fact that a variety of security problems could be tackled at once using diverse approaches available on honeypots. On the contrary, other usual security systems are used to tackle one certain problem through a proposed solution. An instance of this point could be simply seen in the scenario when a compromised system could be investigated after having a log of malicious activity. At the same time, new threats could be recognized through implementing a honeypot in a network and hence attempt to tackle these problems and overcome them effectively.
Honeypots are indistinguishable from the actual production servers to an outside attacker. Thus, they will not behave any differently when attacking them. However, the network security team can monitor the honeypots for recorded attacks and later analyze them. The honeypots can also help to absorb attacks directed against the real server.
What is the motivation behind a honeypot?
The honeypot idea is mainly derived from a great interest in the field of computer security. The implementation of a honeypot requires that one is interested to know the workflow of security systems and to build a solid knowledge of how the protection of a company could be achieved and how security flaws in a system can be very risky for the entire system and organization. A network administrator shall be ready for great work ahead while implementing the honeypot system in a network. Being aware of the system and network architecture and the modifications that could be applied to them is a very crucial step beforehand. The output is examined through some reliable forensic science tools. In the meanwhile, several problems will be encountered, and the administrator has to make sure he can solve them before putting the honeypot in the system. Facing such problems beforehand will be very important for the administrator. This ensures that at a later time, although the conditions may be intense, the system will be handled quickly, and losses will be easily recovered. Therefore, good knowledge of examining security problems and forensic science information is a must.
What should be done before applying a honeypot to the real production system?
A network administrator should carry out some research by the time he thinks of applying the honeypot concept in the network. He has to be sure that the created honeypot is secured such that it has no leaks into the actual system. Otherwise, it will make a real disaster. On the other hand, he has to make sure that a hacker has no knowledge about being trapped into a honeypot. He has also to be aware of the maximum amount of information available for an attacker to get through the honeypot implementation. Also, it is good to know the behavior of an attacker when he knows that he is in a trap. Will that attacker just give up hacking and stop his actions? It is also really important for a network administrator to be knowledgeable of the location where the honeypot should be deployed in the network and the amount of information he can get.
Laws always play a role in everything in life. Therefore, it is also advisable that a network administrator should be aware of the restrictions applied on implementing honeypots; especially if his organization is in the European Union (EU) or the United State of America (USA). There are certain rules and regulations which govern the process of obtaining information of an attacker or tracking him back. Therefore, a network administrator should abide by these rules by not fully tracking the attacker, and at the same, he should be respectful of the laws in every single way.
What is the description of our problem?
When we build a good honeypot, we expect to attract several attackers into the fake system and let them take control over the intentional flaws left in there. When we trace the hacker, it is not guaranteed for sure whether we will be the ones who have the control. Thus, we don’t know that much about the security of a honeypot. We are not sure whether the attacker, in fact, knows that it is a fake system. We also doubt whether the attacker is aware of the great importance of acquiring information about the system flaws. We need to be very specific and certain about the actual limits that an attacker has whenever he gets the control over the honeypot system. It will be disappointing if the attacker can even exploit the honeypot itself and seize a flaw in it to get to the system and do what he wants in the system. The entire system will be compromised when an attacker gets to this devastating point. Another entitled problem is that an attacker may recognize that it is a trap and then stop hacking or pretend that he is hacking. In that time, it is no longer beneficial to have the installed honeypot anymore, and it is not useful either to use our forensics tool to investigate the system. A very important aspect to consider when using honeypots is to be sure about the answers for all these questions and attempt to get our honeypots to be more secure and be assured that hacking the honeypot by the attacker will not yield any useful data for him about the actual system. A good network administrator should play the role of a hacker once and of a forensic examiner on another occasion or simultaneously do the same of course with his own team. Very accurate results could be acquired depending on various tools used for hacking and forensics.
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