Re: Honeypot detection and countermeasures

From: Henry O. Farad (
Date: 06/24/03

  • Next message: Q=F3rhallur_H=E1lfd=E1narson?=: "Re: Honeypot detection and countermeasures"
    Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2003 12:19:58 -0700

    I've seen some interesting stuff on this thread. On the premise that
    the best way to get an answer on the internet is to post the wrong
    answer, I'll try to summarize what I think I've seen people say.

    1) On pen-testing and honeypots:

    This is the question I asked, rather than the one that I meant to
    ask. In many cases, the customer will say "Don't bother attacking
    these systems, they are honeypots". In this case the pen tester will
    end up testing the security of the "production machines" without
    wasting time on the honeypots. However, this will not test the system
    as a whole, since the honeypots are part of the complete security

    2) Low hanging fruit is suspiscious:

    This is getting in to what Lance referred to as his tiered strategy. A
    system that is easy to break into will be more tempting to a less
    experienced intruder, and more suspiscious to an experienced
    intruder. If a system is easier to break into, there should be a
    plausible reason. For example, maybe it's patches are a couple of
    weeks out of date. One may want to apply security patches to the
    honeypots last, but do eventually apply them. Unless, of course, you
    are using it as bait for the careless intruder, or are trying to
    distract from your "real" honeypot.

    Question: what plausible reasons might there be for a less secure
    system on the net? Are machines that people just "forgot about" all
    that common?

    3) Professionals won't do a portscan once they are inside a network.

    While it is common for machines exposed to the outside to be
    portscanned, portscans on the internal network tend to raise
    alarms. Therefore, if a machine does not get any traffic, the
    professional either may not see it, or will be suspiscious of
    it. There would have to be a plausible reason for a company to invest
    in a machine that doesn't appear to be used. Perhaps it is used for
    testing new revisions of the website, but lies fallow when not being
    used for such.

    Question: Do people often share an IP address between a production
    machine and a honeypot when the production machine is not in use. For
    example test machines.

    4) Many hoenypots have easily detected signatures

    Dave Aitel gave some specifics for VMWare (though there are other
    reasons for having a VMWare machine than just a honeypot). John Lampe
    mentioned that other systems have signatures (Mantrap). Unfortunately
    when I tried to google for more information on this subject, it pretty
    much just pointed me to this thread.

    However, it seems that while it is possible to detect a lot of these
    honeypots, many pentesters, and we may assume intruders, don't check
    for them.

    Question: Do you ever get caught by honeypots? Either get busted in
    the middle of a pen-test, or have the customer tell you after the fact
    that you were caught?

    5) What about using a honeypot as an intrusion resource?

    Sure it's a honeypot, but it may be configured to be more
    vulnerable. Do you ever use a honeypot that you find as an attack
    point for other sytems?

    What about using it as a distraction? Do some noisy attacks to and
    from the honeypots, while simultaneously, you quietly attack another

    I think that this is long enough for now. I greatly appreciate all of
    the thoughtful discussion I've seen on this subject.


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