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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Summary

Honeypots are a highly flexible technology that can be applied to a variety of situations. As security tools, they have specific advantages. Specifically, honeypots collect small amounts of data, but most of this is information of high value. They have the ability to effectively work in resource intensive environments, and conceptually they are very simple devices. Also, they quickly demonstrate their value by detecting and capturing unauthorized activity.

However, honeypots share several major disadvantages. The most critical is they have a narrow field of view. If they are not attacked, they have no value. Second, certain honeypots can be fingerprinted, making detection possible. The third disadvantage is that honeypots can add additional risk: The honeypot may be used to attack or harm other systems or organizations. Any time you add additional services or applications to your environment, there are more things that can go wrong.

Within the three areas of security—prevention, detection and response—the primary value of production honeypots is detection. Because production honeypots greatly reduce the problem of both false negatives and false positives, they make an extremely efficient technology for detecting unauthorized activity. They also have some value with respect to reaction and, relatedly, helping organizations to develop their incident response skills. For prevention purposes, production hon-eypots are of minimal value. The concepts of deception and deterrence can be applied with honeypots to prevent attacks, but most organizations are better off spending their limited resources on security best practices, such as patching vulnerable services. Honeypots will not stop vulnerable systems from being hacked.

Research honeypots do not mitigate risk, but they primarily are used to gain information about threats. This information is then used to better understand and protect against these threats. When deploying honeypots, it is critical that organizations have a clearly defined security policy stating what activity is and is not authorized, including the use of honeypots to detect and monitor.

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