Published on Aug 15, 2016


A honeypot is primarily an instrument for information gathering and learning. Its primary purpose is not to be an ambush for the black hat community to catch them in action and to press charges against them. The focus lies on a silent collection of as much information as possible about their attack patterns, used programs,
purpose of attack and the black hat community itself.

All this information is used to learn more about the blackhat proceedings and motives, as well as their technical knowledge and abilities. This is just a primary purpose of a honeypot. There are a lot of other possibilities for a honeypot - divert hackers from productive systems or catch a hacker while conducting an attack are just two possible examples. They are not the perfect solution for solving or preventing computer crimes.

Honeypots are hard to maintain and they need operators with good knowledge about operating systems and network security. In the right hands, a honeypot can be an effective tool for information gathering. In the wrong, unexperienced hands, a honeypot can become another infiltrated machine and an instrument for the black hat community.
Honeypots are an exciting new technology with enormous potential for the security community. The concepts were first introduced by several icons in computer security, specifically Cliff Stoll in the book "The Cuckoo's Egg" , and Bill Cheswick's paper "An Evening with Berferd". Since then, honeypots have continued to evolve, developing into the powerful security tools they are today.

Honeypots are neither like Firewalls that are used to limit or control the traffic coming into the network and to deter attacks neither is it like IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems) which is used to detect attacks. However it can be used along with these. Honeypots does not solve a specific problem as such, it can be used to deter attacks, to detect attacks, to gather information, to act as an early warning or indication systems etc. They can do everything from detecting encrypted attacks in IPv6 networks to capturing the latest in on-line credit card fraud. It is this flexibility that gives honeypots their true power. It is also this flexibility that can make them challenging to define and understand. The basic definition of honeypots is:

"A honeypot is an information system resource whose value lies in unauthorized or illicit use of that resource".

The main aim of the honeypot is to lure the hackers or attacker so as to capture their activities. This information proves to be very useful since information can be used to study the vulnerabilities of the system or to study latest techniques used by attackers etc.

For this the honeypot will contain enough information (not necessarily real) so that the attackers get tempted. (Hence the name Honeypot - a sweet temptation for attackers)Their value lies in the bad guys interacting with them. Conceptually almost all honeypots work they same. They are a resource that has no authorized activity, they do not have any production value.

Theoretically, a honeypot should see no traffic because it has no legitimate activity. This means any interaction with a honeypot is most likely unauthorized or malicious activity. Any connection attempts to a honeypot are most likely a probe, attack, or compromise. While this concept sounds very simple (and it is), it is this very simplicity that give honeypots their tremendous advantages (and disadvantages).


Honeypots come in many shapes and sizes, making them difficult to get a grasp of. To better understand honeypots and all the different types, they are broken down into two general categories, low-interaction and high-interaction honeypots. These categories helps to understand what type of honeypot one is dealing with, its strengths, and weaknesses. Interaction defines the level of activity a honeypot allows an attacker.

Low-interaction honeypots

It have limited interaction, they normally work by emulating services and operating systems. Attacker activity is limited to the level of emulation by the honeypot. For example, an emulated FTP service listening on port 21 may just emulate a FTP login, or it may support a variety of additional FTP commands. The advantages of a low-interaction honeypot is their simplicity.

These honeypots tend to be easier to deploy and maintain, with minimal risk. Usually they involve installing software, selecting the operating systems and services you want to emulate and monitor, and letting the honeypot go from there. This plug and play approach makes deploying them very easy for most organizations. Also, the emulated services mitigate risk by containing the attacker's activity, the attacker never has access to an operating system to attack or harm others. The main disadvantages with low interaction honeypots is that they log only limited information and are designed to capture known activity. The emulated services can only do so much