Why you need honeypots in the cloud: A guide

Why you need honeypots in the cloud: A guide
An incurable evangelist of cloud security, data protection and cyber risk awareness, Asim Rahal is a Detroit-based independent IT service provider.

IT threats such as cyberattacks, worms, viruses, and other digital threats are valid concerns for anyone who connects their systems to the internet.

Businesses that operate digitally – in other words, using the cloud – are especially vulnerable to a variety of cyber threats; some of them not yet known even to security companies.

Security mechanisms such as honeypots can detect various types of attacks, whether it is a server, router, cloud, network, or software.

What are honeypots in cybersecurity?

A honeypot is the type of security system that presents itself as a false target or vulnerability on the system you wish to protect. As such, it is a trap for potential hackers who think they can exploit weaknesses in your systems.

Honeypot uses fake vulnerabilities to attract hackers and study their attacks. Meanwhile, the security company will use that data to further protect your systems and sensitive data.

Whether you want to protect your software, network, cloud, or your e-mail from potential malware, honeypot security technology can be used to gather data about attacks and individually customize enhanced protection against future attacks.

Common types of honeypots

There are different types of honeypots, and their level of protection of your systems will vary. Every business has different systems that operate using tools that require different additional protection – honeypots are created depending on those variables.

Therefore, there are two general types of honeypots:

1. Production honeypots: These honeypots are traps masked as vulnerabilities that protect your real system. Production honeypots are used to deflect cyber threats but at the same time analyze such activities.

2. Research honeypots: This type of honeypot is also used to gather data for the ever-evolving cyber world and new technologies used for malicious attacks. They use the data in order to trace further and analyze attacks.

Do honeypots present a high risk?

Put simply – no. Honeypots protect your systems without putting them at risk. That is to say, hackers won’t target your real systems if you use honeypots.

However, honeypots should not be the only type of security your company employs to protect its systems and important data.

To provide data that is relevant, honeypots use false vulnerabilities to trap hacker activity, but they also need to be connected to your organization somehow.

That doesn’t have to be the real cloud but a fake website of your organization or simply a fake registered domain name.

More skilled hackers may recognize what kind of security systems you use and as such see that you use honeypots. After they detect that, they will stop with the attack to avoid being tracked by your security company. Again, at no harm to your business.

Moreover, security companies already work with a lot of data regarding common attacks (pdf) which they take into consideration before they apply honeypots to your cloud.

For instance, if they expect that most attackers are from China or the US, they will advise you to change easily hackable passwords such as 12345, and are already aware of frequent users or services that are commonly the target – such as SSH or HTTP.

Hosting honeypots in the cloud

Honeypots can be used to protect your systems stored in the cloud. As mentioned, honeypots in cybersecurity are ideal for collecting threat intelligence data that is essential for the prevention of attacks and strengthening security.

It is possible to set honeypots directly onto your cloud, but most security companies do not recommend or do that as it might put your systems through unnecessary risk.

An alternative option is using the public cloud to host the honeypot. This separates your real network from attacks on these vulnerabilities and does not risk your or your client’s real sensitive data or passwords. The public cloud is also beneficial for detecting cyber-attacks from different parts of the world.

Cloud-based honeypots can be set to expose hackers from any part of the world. That feature gives you even more valuable data that will bring the cybersecurity to the next level.

Conclusion

Honeypots can protect your cloud, networks, or software by setting a trap for hackers with false system weaknesses before they have an opportunity to reach your real ones.

The technology that hackers use is constantly improving and evolving. Affording your company that kind of data gathering is essential for the security of your networks and clouds.

Cybercriminals are often thought to be a distant threat, but now, using a honeypot, you can see exactly what they’re getting up to and stop them in time.

Photo by Sophie Nengel on Unsplash

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