How to secure your business with honeypots

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Do you ever wonder how cybersecurity professionals hunt cyber criminals down on the internet? ‘Honeypot’ could be the answer. As a security measure to restrict intruders’ access, you might strengthen network security. Contrary to this, cyber professionals use ‘honeypots’ to attract cybercriminals. A honeypot is a computer system that detects attacks or diversifies from a legitimate target. It is intended to mimic expected targets of cyberattacks. It is also used to gain information on the operations of cybercriminals. 

The concept of a honeypot is quite simple. It does not chase attackers, rather it attracts them through a false illegitimate target. Hence, the name, ‘Honeypot.’ 

Watch this to understand what honeypot is and how it works: 

What does a honeypot do? 

In a hypothetical scenario, a finance company manager may set up a honeypot in the form of the company’s network for outsiders. Similarly, it goes with other businesses like banks, healthcare, etc. having internet-connected systems. These businesses monitor traffic to such honeypots and, consequently, understand the movement of cybercriminals. Significantly, you can determine the security measures and the ones that you must take to improve your business. 

A honeypot can be configured resembling anything on the network—for example, web server, file server, print server, etc. When a cyber attacker comes across a potential honeypot probing to be a legitimate target, they perform similarly as if they have dealt with the legitimate one. 

A honeypot solution is applicable even when an Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) methodologies exist at the endpoint. Honeypots can be inexpensively deployed, and as they receive manageably less traffic, while their logs are of immense value. Any alert or information received may be either a malicious activity or a misconfigured system on the network. Though the information helps in identifying bad elements lurking on the network; it also assists you in understanding whether anything has been misconfigured. 

While researchers use honeypots to study the methods of attackers, they are of more significance to defenders.  

5 advantages that honeypots bring to the business – 

  1. Greater scope of success – 

    The cyber attackers, as a practice test against the effectiveness of their malware against the popular anti-malware scanners and other security measures. Whereas further observation shows that the advanced attackers have the resources and means of deploying their attacks successfully. This is where honeypots play an important role. They fill the gaps because attackers seek time to predict the use and to counter the defenses. Simultaneously, production honeypots will have a low false-positive rate due to the non-accessibility of legitimate users.  

  2. Creates a confused scenario – 

    Honeypots can also trap the users and make them slow down within the company’s network. Otherwise, with the help of a virtual system, the company can create decoys to distract the attackers. In turn, it delays the objective of attackers from finding valuable data. To understand decoys, they move the threats from real assets to fake ones and subsequently alert the defenders about the threats.  

    A significant approach would be using honey tokens to replace fake data in the database records. The same is achieved by instructing firewalls to alert on the unique packets. Consequently, a company can detect how the user accesses the information or downloads the same. 

  3. Though time-consuming, it is effective – 

    There are two types of honeypots that any company can deploy. The first being a research honeypot, where a virtual system hosting a vulnerable operating system is assigned to a network having connected to an internet connection. However, research honeypots consume a lot of time. But they consider as a best practice to learn about the attackers and their movements. The research honeypots are watched for threats, and then the first line defense team analyzes the attack logs or behavior. Such honeypots are rarely used in businesses unless otherwise, the core process is security. Another type of honeypot is a production honeypot that emulates value addition to the business. They can be in the form of a workstation, database, web server, or document. Due to the low-interactive nature of production honeypots, they do not require continuous monitoring. The security team establishes the honeypots and then gets along with other tasks until SOC analysts raise an alert. 

  4. Help training your security team – 

    As the cybersecurity workforce is in short supply, honeypots serve as training tools. By watching the attackers’ movements, the defenders can learn new techniques. The security teams often deploy honeypots to learn the attackers’ behavior. The SOC analysts follow the footsteps of the cyber attackers and study their movements to understand how the attacks can be combated at the intermediary stages in their network. 

  5. Other ancillary options 

    There are other free tools and technologies to adopt and implement a honeypot mechanism. 


Simply speaking, a honeypot is not a network security solution. It is a broader approach to securing the network. While implementing honeypots and watching over them also help in understanding the landscape of network, both topology, and behavior. More likely, a better understanding of your network helps the SOC team to analyze and implement effective defense tools. 

A honeypot is not just a network security sensor solution, and it is also a component of your broader approach to applying network security. Going through the process of implementing a honeypot can help you to become more familiar with what your network looks like – from both topology and a behavior perspective. Having a better understanding of your network puts you in a better position to defend it. Also, the cases of misconfigured systems serve as the opportunities to establish relations with operation teams, with additional value. By increasing the risks to the attacker, the SOC team makes the target less attractive for them. 

Become a Certified SOC Analyst ! 

CSA (Certified SOC Analyst) is a credentialing program from EC-Council that offers the trending and in-demand technical skills via experienced trainers in the industry. The CSA program creates new career opportunities through extensive, meticulous knowledge with enhanced level capabilities for dynamically contributing to a SOC team. It is a 3-day intensive program that thoroughly covers the fundamentals of SOC operations, the knowledge of log management and correlation, SIEM deployment, advanced incident detection, and incident response. Additionally, the program helps in learning to manage various SOC processes and collaborate with CSIRT at the time of need. 

The CSA certification helps in acquiring the skill of honeypot to mimic a real target. A certified professional can monitor and identify attacks on honeypots without actually incurring losses. The skill gained during certification can help in having potential information about cyber attacks and their network vulnerabilities. In industries that are more vulnerable like PCI, a CSA certified plays a crucial role in implementing honeypots to keep the organization one step ahead of attackers.  


Who is the SOC Analyst?

A SOC (Security Operations Center) analyst works alongside security engineers and managers to continuously monitor and detect possible cyber threats and raises an alert whenever required. 

Read more: SOC Analysts: What They Are, What They Do, and Why They Matter

How do I become a SOC Analyst?

A SOC analyst is an entry-level job; thus, a specialized training program can help you become one. For this reason, EC-Council has created the Certified SOC Analyst (CSA). By registering for this program, you can build skills the industry needs and build a career in cybersecurity. 

Read more: Why Consider a Course in SOC Analysis?  

Why do you need a security operations center?

A Security Operations Center is a combination of security experts, specialized procedures, and relevant technologies. To summarize their tasks, it helps in defending the security infrastructure by alerting the concerned professionals on time. 

Read more: What is a Security Operations Center? And Why Do You Need It? 

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