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Honeynet Technology: A Must-Have Compliment For IDS

Network security has one purpose: to reduce or completely eliminate any risk to an organization’s critical assets.  Every organization would prefer to do this through preventing attacks but as anyone who works in network security knows far too well, protection is the ideal but detection is an absolute must.

As an organization, you must realize that the key resources of your organization are valuable to someone and that they will be attacked.  Your job is to be ready for that attack so that you can not only protect yourself but detect as early in its cycle so as to reduce or eliminate any negative outcomes of the attack.  One of the most common ways to do this is to implement honey-x technology, otherwise known as honeypot cyber security.

What Is Honeypot Cyber Security?

This form of security wears so many hats that it is challenging to say exactly what it is and what it can do.  Depending on your organization, your honeypot may serve a certain set of functions which are independent from the functions it is performing for other organizations.

Generally speaking a honeypot is an information system which alerts users of any illicit or unauthorized use of one or more resources.  In fact, the true value of a honeypot really lies in it being misused by an unauthorized user who is accessing information system resources such as:

  • A state machine or a simulated system
  • A dedicated server
  • A service which is on a selected host
  • A single file with specialized attributes (sometimes referred to as a honeytoken)
  • A virtual server (such as what the original honeynet was)

How Honeypot Technology Works

Most users implement honeypot technology to better understand exactly what is occurring on their key systems.  Let’s say that you are a typical web server and receive millions of hits a day. Trying to identify which is a legitimate connection and which is not is impossible, unless you have an easy way to discern attack traffic, such as through a honeypot.

Honeypots offer:

  • Better detection: Honeypots can only see “bad” traffic. Many providers have both external and internal honeypot capabilities so you can see where potential vulnerabilities or network exploitations are happening and can protect them in real time.
  • A honeypot farm: Though honeypots were formerly thought to not be a scalable security option (since they were spaced to far apart and not connected), more vendors are attempting to cluster these honeypots, allowing organizations to quickly and easily deploy honeynet technology.
  • An intelligent network. Honeypots and their networks are now able to “learn” about networks and can actually configure themselves to protect your organization even when your systems administrator may not have caught an anomaly in the system.

An IDS is a must-have, but a honeynet with honeypots can fill in the many growing gaps which are left by an IDS.  This tool will help largely eliminate false positives and can help you address your lack of alert intelligence which allows your organization to bolster its network security.

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