Honeypots: Most Certainly One of the Best Cyber-Deception Defensive Measures

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Abstract

We all know how much cybersecurity has become a matter of urgency for all individuals and companies/businesses all over the planet. With every day passing digital-security risks are continuously increasing in terms of both their numbers and their capabilities to cause massive damage. More and more sophisticated and highly evolutionized forms of attack vectors are being introduced and used by adversaries from time to time and there are only a handful of types of cybersecurity countermeasures that can actually have the required capability and effectiveness to tackle these innovative types of cybersecurity risks. In this report, we will talk about a cybersecurity prevention mechanism known as Honeypots. We will discuss what they are, how they work, and how they contribute in enhancing the state of cyber-security for companies/businesses globally.

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1- Introduction to Honeypots

1.1 What are honeypots?

In an effort to effectively deal with the latest cybersecurity risks and offenses cyberspace experts have developed a mechanism that attracts and lure digital hackers to try an attack or breach a company’s security. Honeypots are just like how they sound.

They sound like honey and sweet to hackers as companies intentionally mimic the behavior of a vulnerable company or application that automatically attracts adversaries and encourages them to attack or try to breach the company’s security using their skills and different types of attack vectors. In a nutshell, honeypots are deception-based cybersecurity-countermeasure methods designed to catch adversaries while also learning from them.

However, honeypots are a cybersecurity-countermeasure method that acts as a company’s primary defense apparatus for protecting its high-value assets like databases and servers. Honeypots allow a company or business to monitor, record and analyze the attacks of digital hackers while protecting the actual assets of the company.

1.2 How does honeypot work?

The working and concept of using honeypots are very simple yet effective. As traditional security measures like Antivirus or firewall software wait for a breach or an attack attempt to happen and only alert and notify the company and affected parties at the time of attack or after the time when a breach has already happened.

Honeypots work exactly opposite to how traditional security-methods work. Honeypots intentionally mimic weak entry points of a company so hackers get the idea that a certain company/business or application has security flaws that they can exploit for malicious purposes. However, when adversaries try to attack these weak points they are tricked by companies that give them the impression that they have successfully targeted and attacked the security systems or assets of a company.

But in reality, companies trap the adversaries and use the information/data of attack vectors used by these digital hackers that they further analyze to find how such types of attacks can impact their company’s security infrastructure and whether they have such capable security measures in place of the company’s infrastructure that can identify and fend off such security-risks. Analyzing this type of information/data allows companies to strengthen their own security apparatus so the same and other similar types of security risks can be avoided in the future. Thereby, enhancing the overall organizational-cybersecurity state.

1.3 Importance of honeypots

While traditional security apparatus and tools continue to fall short against advanced and much more sophisticated malware and attack vectors. There is a dire need for much more effective, accurate, and cost-effective cyber-solution.

And honeypots are those types of cyber-solutions that have been found far more effective and practically accurate than using just the regular firewalls and anti-malware software. There are a plethora of reasons why honeypots are of vital importance to enhance the cybersecurity of companies. Some of the factors that make honeypots of such importance in terms of enhancing cybersecurity are but are not limited to the following:

It is usually not detectable for hackers: Digital hackers majority of the time are unable to detect that a honeypot has been deployed by a company. A possible security vulnerability that may seem as a potential opportunity of initiating a digital attack for adversaries, can very well be honeypots developed strategically to confuse and trick hackers into thinking that they are attacking a company’s property.

While the information/data about the initiated attack helps the company to reinforce their security measures to defend against such attacks. It can also help companies to improve their digital security while also conducting investigations to catch the adversaries responsible for attacking their IT systems in case of major or irreversible damage.

Honeypots are cost-effective: Rather than upgrading organizational digital-security measures from time to time by using expensive third-party products or services like investing in high-end cybersecurity apparatus or hiring a third-party cyber security insurance company. Using honeypots can be a more cost-effective digital solution.

Deploying honeypots costs a fraction of the cost than hiring an outside cyber-insurance company while can still offer more accuracy and reliability than traditional-security measures.

Honeypots are highly accurate and effective: Most of the time cyber-hackers that develop newly programmed malware or other attack vectors usually like to try it out on some possibly known security flaws to check the efficiency and capability of their programmed attack vectors. Adversaries mostly use popular antivirus programs like Avira, Eset, Kaspersky, etc. to check if it successfully bypasses their security scanners without being detected. Honeypots come in handy when hackers try to use their latest creations to damage organizational assets.

By using honeypots, companies learn about the latest security risks and attack vectors developed by adversaries that aid these companies to filter through false-positive alerts regarding security incidents. What’s more, honeypots are strategically deployed so that regular users cannot access them. This makes all of that possible security-risk who attempt to access these honeypots.

Similarly, there are many types of other reasons why using honeypots is imperative to enhance organizational cybersecurity. There are different types of honeypots that are designed specifically for working differently but have the common goal of attracting intruders, learning from their attacks while also protecting the organizational assets. This brings us to the second segment of the paper.

2- Types of Honeypots & Cyber-deception

2.1 Cyber-deception

There is no doubt and denying in the fact that cyber-adversaries are becoming more and more skilled in developing highly evolved and intelligent types of attack vectors that successfully trick even the smartest cybersecurity solutions available in the market today.

Therefore, countering these highly sophisticated attack vectors needs much more intelligent and next-generation cyber-solutions that can identify, tackle and mitigate even the nastiest of the cyber-attacks and attack vectors. One technique that cyberspace-experts use is “cyber-deception”. By using this deception strategy security-experts trick hackers to reveal their crucial information/data that leads towards their exposure and capture, while experts gain highly useful insights from these adversaries.

An example of a cyber-deception strategy used by establishments is by using Honeypots of different types that are different in terms of the method of their working.

2.2 Types of Honeypots

As we have established earlier in the report that honeypots have different types that are different from each other in terms of how they work and are deployed to track hackers. With that said, there are two types of major categories in which different types of honeypots are classified. These two types of honeypots include; high-interaction honeypots and low-interaction honeypots. Let’s dig a bit deeper to discuss and learn more about these two major categories of honeypots.

High-interaction-honeypots: These are the types of honeypots that are specifically designed to be as realistic as possible. In other words, rather than mimicking the behavior of a security vulnerability containing an organizational asset or sensitive system. High-interaction-honeypots are deployed using ‘actual working’ organizational assets, in which companies intentionally give hackers the facility of attacking their organizational systems so that they can see how adversaries can compromise their IT infrastructure and what would it take to improve their current security measures to defend against these types of security-offenses.

Proving adversaries the facility to exploit the actual working organizational systems by companies helps in minimizing the chances of hackers feeling like they are in a honeypot or are being evaluated by the IT teams of a company. This creates an atmosphere of realisticness for both companies and hackers.

Low-interaction Honeypots: These types of honeypots are true examples of cyber-deception strategies. These types of honeypots are purposefully built to deceive hackers into exposing their clever schemes of digital attacks. Companies deploy honeypots that display fake behavior similar to organizational systems that can trick hackers into believing that they are targeting/attacking real systems/assets of establishments.

On contrary to high-interaction types of honeypots these types of honeypots do not allow adversaries to interact much with the deployed systems that generate the possibility of adversaries being made aware of the fact that they are being monitored and analyzed by the company’s digital-security team.

Such honeypots immediately notify to the relevant department of the companies regarding a security breach or a possible attempt to compromise any system of the establishment that resulting in ensuring companies that they are aware of the possible security threat and have enough time to enforce proper security protocols in place to fend off and upgrade already deployed security-measures to cope with such types of attacks.

Conclusion

In conclusion to the report, it is imperative to mention that cybersecurity risks globally are increasing at an alarming speed. While the development of the latest cybersecurity solutions that can tackle advanced digital-security offenses are low in numbers and even in accuracy and effectiveness. With that said, honeypots are most certainly one of the best cyber-deception defensive measures that companies can deploy to enhance the state of their overall organizational digital security. As there are different honeypot types determining what type of honeypots work for your specific workplace needs some experimenting and careful decision making. Therefore, to ensure maximum protection against digital-security hazards ensure you choose the right type of honeypots.

24 May 2022

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