What is a Honeypot? Do you have one of these at work?

February 1st . 6 min read
What is Honeypot

The honeypot concept originated in the cybersecurity industry to attract, capture, and monitor cybercriminals. With the rising demand for security against cyber threats, honeypots are gaining popularity across the globe. 

What is a Honeypot?

A honeypot is a security system created to draw attackers. It is a crucial network-attached tool that helps information security experts and defenders analyse network-based threats more thoroughly. A honeypot poses as a poorly managed, high-value asset or server that could be targeted by cyber attackers online. It gathers information about any efforts by illegitimate users to get into the Honeypot and alerts defenders of these attempts.

How Does a Honeypot Work?

Honeypots are installed on decoy servers inside the demilitarised zone (an isolated network area) to make it appear legitimate to the hacker. They employ standard protocols and execute realistic functions. Furthermore, at times, they use fake data to look more credible.

A honeypot fools cyberhackers into thinking it's a valid target by looking like a real computer system loaded with apps and data. For instance, a honeypot could imitate a business's customer billing system, which is frequently targeted by hackers looking for credentials for credit cards. Once the Honeypot succeeds in engaging the hackers, their activities can be easily monitored, and their behaviour can be examined for hints on how to make the real network even more secure.

Who are the Common Users of Honeypot?

Honeypots are frequently used by large businesses and organisations engaged in cybersecurity investigations to recognise and protect against assaults from threat actors. 

Types of Honeypots

Cybersecurity experts employ different types of honeypots to detect different cyber threats:

• Honeypot Email Addresses:

These are email traps or junk mail traps that hide a bogus email id in a spot that only an automated address extractor can find. Because the address isn't utilised for anything other than the spamming trap, any message sent to it is guaranteed to be spam. Thus, all communications that contain similar content as those sent to the spamming trap can be automatically prohibited. Also, the spammers' source IP addresses can be added to a block list.

• Spider Honeypot:

The purpose of a spider honeypot is to capture web crawlers, also known as spiders, by constructing web pages and URLs that are only visible to automated crawlers. You can learn how to block harmful bots and ad-network crawlers by identifying crawlers.

• Malware Honeypot:

It imitates software applications and APIs to attract malware attacks. The attributes of the malware can then be examined to create anti-malware software or to fix API vulnerabilities.

• Database Honeypots: 

An organisation's security team may install a honeypot to serve as a dummy database that alerts users to hackers attempting to take advantage of software vulnerabilities. Attackers who succeed in penetrating firewalls can be lured to and diverted by the dummy databases.

Also, based on strategy, there are three types of honeypots:

• Simple/pure Honeypot:

This extensive production system includes simulated sensitive data and documents. It is the simplest of the three honeypot types, but it is also the most complicated. Because of this intricacy, it is harder to manage a simple honeypot.

• Low-interaction honeypot:

The honeypots mimic the most prevalent attacks on a network: basic protocols like TCP/IP, which are most likely to be requested by a hacker. Because a low-interaction honeypot is less complex, it is safer, but it is also easier to detect if it is fake. Thus, it is beneficial for tracking less complicated threats like bots and malware.

• High-interaction Honeypot:

High-interaction honeypots work by getting attackers to try to get root access or administrative access to a server. An organisation can monitor a hacker's activities closely if they have administrative access to a decoy system.

Honeypot- Uses

This decoy-based intrusion-detection technology has several uses. Observing traffic entering a honeypot system can provide the following information:

  • the source of cybercrime
  • cybercriminals' method or patterns of operation 
  • the intensity of the threat
  • data or applications that are of interest to them
  • cybersecurity measures you have in place to prevent cyberattacks

Benefits of Using a Honeypot:

  • Honeypots are resource-light since they only deal with a small volume of traffic.
  • It is easy to set up a honeypot using outdated PCs that you no longer use.
  • In terms of software, various pre-written honeypots are accessible through public repositories, significantly minimising the amount of internal work required to set up a honeypot.
  • The rate of false positives in honeypots is minimal.
  • Cybercriminals are constantly improving their intrusion capabilities. A honeypot helps cybersecurity experts and security teams gain knowledge of various cyber attacks and identify emerging attacks and vulnerabilities.
  • Also, honeypots make excellent training tools for technical security personnel. A honeypot offers a secure environment for studying various vulnerabilities and demonstrating how cybercriminals operate.
  • Furthermore, with a honeypot, security personnel may concentrate entirely on the threat without being diverted by actual network activity.

blogimagw – 7 (1).jpg

Nonetheless, the expense of managing a honeypot can be substantial, in part due to the skill sets required to create and play a system that appears to unveil an organisation's network resources while prohibiting intruders from gaining entry to any production systems.

Last but not least, by setting up a honeypot, you are helping other computer users as well. It takes hackers longer to waste their efforts on honeypots, so they have less time to hack live systems and cause real harm.


Although Honeypot is a boon for averting cyberattacks, it has its own share of challenges:

  • A good, properly configured honeypot will dupe cybercriminals/hackers into assuming they have got access to the actual system. It will be identical to your actual systems in terms of data fields, logos and login alerts. However, Honeypots are not 100% foolproof. If a hacker successfully identifies a honeypot, they can target your real systems while keeping the Honeypot unharmed.
  • A cyber attacker can create spoof attacks using Honeypot fingerprinting to divert attention from a real exploit targeting your production systems.
  • Attackers could also gain access to your systems through honeypots. That's why honeypots cannot substitute intrusion detection systems and firewalls, which provide satisfactory security controls.
  • Also, the Honeypot may serve as an entry point for further intrusion. Therefore you must ensure it is well-protected. You can protect your live system from attacks directed at your Honeypot with a honeywall-the simplest means of safeguarding your Honeypot from malicious attacks.

As a whole, honeypots have far more benefits than risks. The threat of hackers is often considered imperceptible. However, with honeypots, you are able to monitor their activity in real-time and prevent them from gaining access. 

Wrapping Up

Given the benefits of a honeypot, it is recommended that every organisation leverage these network-connected tools. This network security technology forms an essential component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy in today's digital environment. This tool can be used by organizations as an additional layer of protection, along with firewalls and other security mechanisms, to safeguard networks from hackers.