Honeypots Article | Cyber Security Talks
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A Honeypot is the sweet spot in a web application security

By on May 08, 2017

Honeypots in Web applications

The role of decoy-based intrusion-detection technology, or "honeypots," is evolving. Once used primarily by researchers as a way to attract hackers to a network system in order to study their movements and behavior, honeypots are now beginning to play an important part in enterprise security. Indeed, by providing early detection of unauthorized network activity, honeypots are proving more useful to IT security professionals than ever.

W are going to look at how honeypots work and how the technology is emerging as a key component in a layered approach to intrusion protection.


A honeypot is a system that's put on a network or a web application so it can be probed and attacked. Because the honeypot has no production value, there is no "legitimate" use for it. This means that any interaction with the honeypot, such as a probe or a scan, is by definition suspicious.

There are two types of honeypots:

  • Research: Most attention to date has focused on research honeypots, which are used to gather information about the actions of intruders. For example, the Honeynet Project is a volunteer, nonprofit security research organization that uses honeypots to collect information on cyberthreats.

  • Production: Less attention has been paid to production honeypots, which are actually used to protect web applications. Increasingly, however, production honeypots are being recognized for the detection capabilities they can provide and for the ways they can supplement both network- and host-based intrusion protection.

Attacks Map

Google Hacks Honeypot

A Google Hack Honeypot (GHH) is designed to be vulnerable to sophisticated search engine queries for the purpose of attracting hackers and studying their behavior.

GHH places an invisible link on the user’s website that can be detected through the use of advanced search operators. Google hacking (sometimes called Google dorking) is the use of advanced search operators to access hard-to-find information. Although Google hacking has many valid research purposes, it's also employed by attackers to gather information that can be used for illicit purposes, such as identity theft or corporate espionage. The reason Google hacking is effective is that neither website security nor corporate assets are adequately protected.

To an attacker, a honeypot acts like a live system, but it doesn’t actually provide access to any important data. A properly configured honeypot also doesn’t provide evidence to a hacker that his actions are being monitored. It should have user accounts, system files and ports that respond to port scans. However, instead of providing access to real backend data, the invisible link on the user website directs would-be hackers to a PHP script that logs their activity.

Administrators can use the information gathered to block access to resources, compile hacking attempt statistics or, if they chose, turn hacker information over to the authorities.

Elmalla A. (@elmalla) is Chief Sales Officer at i-AWCS, which focuses on web application security solutions.