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Re: Honeypot detection and countermeasures
From: "Henry O. Farad" <lrcrypto () red4est com>
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
scenario.

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weeks out of date.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
system?

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

   Larry




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