What Are Honeypots
by Doug Chick
Honeypots have become a widely used security tool to monitor the methods and habits of “Hackers”. Honeypots are not that widely known, even among computer people but they have been around for more then 10 years. Honeypots are decoy systems that emulate a corporate network environment. This allows security administrators the ability to watch blackhat hacker’s work and learn from their actions. Hackers could be fooled into thinking they've accessed a corporate network, when actually they're just banging around in a honeypot. Unlike firewalls or intrusion detection systems, Honeypots do not solve a specific problem. The value of honeypots is in its ability to track movement within the site.
Honeypots have been particularly useful in setting traps on wireless networks for hackers searching for unsecured Wi-Fi access points. A government contractor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) launched what might be the first organized wireless honeypot, designed to tempt unwary bandwidth borrowers. SAIC gathered useful data on their techniques and tools of choice. Even my website as a honeypot on it. I use it to warn all the hacker want- to-be’s cruising my site for tools and tips that they are every bit as vulnerable as those they may potentially one day attack. (http://www.thenetworkadministrator.com/hackertools.htm)
At the Vermont National Guard, honeypots are used to teach students in the Computer Emergency Response Teams, which teaches network security to military IT workers from all 50 states. They run an experimental network, gathering attack information to show their students what to look for and what to do when it happens. The information that they harvest from honeypots is valuable in defending military networks.
Security “experts” categorize Honeypots as being one of the best ways to spy on your enemy. Many security companies use honeypots like a fishbowl. They will set up these diversionary networks as the first line of defense as part of a security structure. When I talk to companies about the importance of security, it’s not a scare tactic when I say that systems can be attacked and penetrated in the blink of an eye, it is a fact. Another fact that most security people don’t like to admit to is that with all of their knowledge and the technology available to them, they can only keep out the amateur hackers.