Honeypots have been a part of the cybersecurity world for decades. 

This is because they offer real-world data on the types of threats companies face, and can be a powerful research tool for identifying specific threat vectors. 

Rather than relying on general passive protection systems, network administrators are now looking to test their cybersecurity in dynamic real-life situations. 

Below is a simple but practical guide that covers the basic types of honeypots, as well as how and why they help researchers analyze malware.

What Are Honeypots & How Many Types There Are? 

A honeypot is a real or simulated system designed to attract attacks on itself. 

Essentially, they are virtual or physical machines that are open to the real world while flaunting their intended vulnerabilities. 

The basic idea is that a cybercriminal will launch his attack against the trap instead of the real systems. If this happens, the company can obtain information on the types of tools, tactics, and procedures used, to prevent others from coming. 

There are two broad categories of honeypots available today: high interaction and low interaction. These are defined based on the services, or level of interaction, provided to potential hackers. 

  1. High interaction Honeypots: allow the hacker to interact with the system just as they would with any normal operating system, to collect the maximum amount of information about the attacker’s techniques.

  2. Low interaction Honeypots: In contrast, these present hacker-emulated services with a limited subset of the functionality that they would expect from a server, to detect sources of unauthorized activity. 

Benefits of Using Honeypots in 2020

Large companies can use them to test vulnerabilities, strengthen their backup systems, or detect ongoing attacks.

Smaller companies use them to increase the security of their website, protect personal data, and increase their reputation by taking cybersecurity seriously. 

This is because they offer a level of detailed threat analysis that is impossible using more general cybersecurity analysis software. 

As they are not based on known attack signatures, they can often provide zero-day warning of potential security vulnerabilities. 

Unlike intrusion detection systems, a user does not need to act suspiciously to trigger a warning that a system has been compromised. 

The mere fact that someone is poking around a honeypot is enough to identify it as a threat. They are also useful for evaluating administrative responses to cyberattacks.

However, Honeypots aren’t perfect:

  • They can be used by cybercriminals to attack other systems.

  • It only supervises direct interactions with the honeypot.

  • Smart attackers can potentially detect honeypots. 

And not only they’re imperfect… But cybersecurity professionals tag Honeypots as unethical. Why is that?

Ethical Issues Related to Honeypots

The use of honeypots is a popular and controversial topic. And although their use is considered legal, are they ethical?

Some experts consider honeypots to be a cause of entrapment and while this is not a legal issue, it does not mean that the way it attracts attackers is ethical.

The argument is that since it is unethical and illegal to entice someone to steal an object, why is it legal or ethical to entice someone to commit a computer crime? 

While some experts consider that honeypots are not only unethical but a disadvantage to the online world since in essence, they are “building the best hacker.”

On the other hand, some others express their opinion on the premise that they simply use the “Strike first, before you are attacked” approach. 

This question is not easy to answer, therefore, the ethics of using themwill continue to be a questionable issue.

But, you can test for yourself, now that you know what it is, along with the benefits, disadvantages, and issues.

6 Best Honeypots Software Tools of 2020

For anyone looking, there are a wide variety of software solutions to choose from when it comes to honeypot solutions.

Best Low-interaction Honeypots

Specter – This Intrusion Detection System provides services such as PHP, SMTP, FTP, POP3, HTTP, and TELNET that easily attract attackers, but in reality, they are traps that intend to collect information. 

Honeyd – It creates virtual hosts on the Web. Hosts can be configured to run arbitrary services and their personalities can be tailored so that they appear to be running certain operating systems. 

KFSensor – This Windows-based Honeypot focus on intrusion detection system (IDS), attracting hackers and worms, vulnerable through the situation of the system services and Trojans. 

Best High-Interaction Honeypot 

HoneyNet – Is designed to collect a high degree of information about the threats to which the organization is subjected. It also provides a real means of systems, applications, and services to interact with attackers, in other words, a HoneyNet is a set of Honeypots. 

But this topic can be as complex as the previously mentioned tools.

So, they won’t have any effect if you don’t know how to use them.

Plain and simple.

What can you do instead? Let a team of IT experts take care of it (of protecting your small, mid, to big-sized business assets, while you focus on making it grow).