A new and proactive solution to protecting networks from attack, both external and internal, is to deploy a honeypot security system within the network. These systems have the capability to immediately detect intruders, providing security alerts at the zero-day level, prior to the loss or damage of any data.

The honeypot system is essentially a decoy, luring potential hackers in the same way bears are lured by the scent of honey. While the honeypot does not contain any active information, it does contain information, that, while false, is available to the hacker, and can distract long enough for the system to alert security of a potential breach. The honeypot security method can also be configured to look like an easy point of entry to the valid system, as that is what intruders typically look for first.

Honeypot security measures should contain similar components to the regular system. Depending on system usage and needs, this could include messaging, data, login information, and other similarities. The goal is to make the honeypot undetectable from the larger system at first, and even second glance.

Two main types of honeypot systems exist: high-interaction and low-interaction. A high-interaction honeypot system provides a complete and interactive system for the attacker to contend with. A low-interaction system mirrors specific pieces of a production system. It has less capability than the high-interaction system, but is simpler to deploy. Regardless of the honeypot system type, the most critical aspect is to configure alerting capabilities to security staff in real time.

The value of a honeypot system is often questioned, particularly when traditional security such as an intrusion detection system (IDS) already exists within the enterprise. Regardless of the existing security features, the honeypot system offers unique value in 4 ways:

  1. Immediate alert functionality: Data from the honeypot gives security information that IDS system does not alert them to, and the honeypot alerts in real time.
  2. Zero-day exploit detection: Honeypots can detect attackers based on their behavior, including keystrokes and other tools the IDS is not privy to.
  3. Security enhancement: Data gathered by the honeypot has the AI capacity to enhance future security efforts by providing collaborative data exchange, resulting in fewer false alerts.
  4. Stalling techniques: When an attacker enters the honeypot, it is not immediately recognizable as a false system. Therefore, time is wasted, the attacker is thwarted, and even potentially moves on to another target.

At no point in time has the average internet user been more aware of threats to data. Whether through financial institution, healthcare records, or PC usage, data is constantly at risk from hackers. Honeypot systems have traditionally been used to study and defend attacker techniques. However, they are a viable, cost-effective option for enterprises to protect and defend their network.