Why virtual honeypots are sweet

Honeypot technology can be used for botnet-tracking or malicious code collection

A honeypot is simply a "closely monitored computing resource that we want to be probed, attacked or compromised," Niels Provos and Thorsten Holz tell us in their new book, Virtual Honeypots.

Honeypots can capture information about illicit use, attacks and possibly detect vulnerabilities not well understood. The latest models of them, virtual honeypots, are simply those that run in virtualized environments, such as VMware.

In an interview with Ellen Messmer, Provos (a senior staff engineer at Google who's credited with developing the open-source honeypot Honeyd) and Holz (founder of the German Honeynet Project and graduate student at the University of Mannheim's Laboratory for Dependable Distributed Systems) discuss the latest in tools for building virtual honeypots.

So what's a virtual honeypot?

Provos: Honeypot technology can be used for botnet-tracking or malicious code collection, among other things, and the difference with a virtual honeypot is the convenience in remotely administering it. From the network point of view, the virtual honeypot looks exactly like a physical machine. You can have a low-interaction honeypot, which usually only exposes select network services, or a high-interaction honeypot using a complete operating system virtualized in the network layer.

Holz: You can use a honeypot to protect the clients in your network or detect an insider threat.

Do you need special tools for virtual honeypots?

Holz: You can use available tools and they run in the guest operating system.

In your book, you discuss some of the latest honeypot tools. For instance, you mention client honeypots, particularly the HoneyClient virtual machine tool developed by engineer Kathy Wang to detect attacks on Windows clients.

Holz: You'll find a lot on that at www.honeyclient.org and it's a Mitre project.

Other tools are Capture, Nepenthes and Honeyd. Nepenthes is a tool for emulation of vulnerabilities in network services that's used in the German Honeynet Project and we're working closely with the University of Aachen on this. At Aachen, we run it for protection. It's a building block for security. Some ISPs use our tools to detect signs of infected users.

The book also mentions Argos, developed at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. What's Argos?

Provos: With Argos, you can detect a new attack without a signature. The Argos people did information-flow tracking or 'tainting' to figure out if any information sent to the honeypot ends up influencing it inside.

And what's this tool called Billy Goat?

Holz: The basic idea is to simulate the vulnerable network services. Billy Goat is closed source, developed by IBM, and deployed at IBM.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ellen Messmer

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?