Cybersecurity Honeypot Definition

KZero Staff
Jul 27, 2023

What is a Honeypot in Cybersecurity?

A honeypot is a deliberately vulnerable computer or service deployed on an organization’s network. The goal of a honeypot is to entice cybercriminals to hack or breach that system before targeting any of the company’s real systems. If an attacker gains access to the honeypot, the organization can gather information about their tactics, techniques, and motives and use this information to detect or prevent attacks against real systems.

How Does a Honeypot Work?

A honeypot is a system that is designed to look as enticing as possible to a potential attacker. One way to accomplish this is to have the honeypot be deliberately vulnerable to attack. For example, the honeypot system could be behind on updates, leaving certain applications or services vulnerable to exploitation. Additionally, it could have weak or default passwords or other security misconfigurations that make it easy for an attacker to gain access.

Once the attacker gains access to the honeypot, they’re in an environment designed to waste their time while posing no threat to the organization. A honeypot is typically isolated from the rest of an organization’s systems, making it impossible to pivot to another internal system. In some cases, an organization may deploy an entire network of honeypots, called a honeynet.

All of the data, accounts, etc. on the honeypot are designed to seem valuable while being fake and providing no real value to the attacker. This can help to waste an attacker’s time or provide notification of a breach if the fake data is offered for sale or revealed on the Dark Web.

Typically, honeypots are deployed as virtual machines (VMs) in an organization’s environment or cloud infrastructure. This makes it easier to monitor the systems and to restore them to their original state after an attacker has gained access and potentially made changes.

Benefits of a Honeypot

Honeypots are deceptive systems designed to trick an attacker into wasting time and revealing useful information to an organization. Some of the main benefits that a honeypot can provide include:

  • Attacker Distraction: Honeypots are designed to be attractive targets to an attacker. This causes the attacker to focus their efforts on a fake, valueless system rather than real corporate systems.
  • Early Attack Detection: Ideally, an attacker will target the honeypot with the same tools and techniques that they would use to attack the real organization. Any activity within a honeypot is known to be malicious and can be a warning sign of follow-up attacks.
  • Threat Intelligence: Honeypots are typically designed to monitor and collect information on an attacker’s tools and techniques. This information can be used to identify threats within an organization’s real environment or to bolster its defenses against future attacks.


Honeypots use deception to trick an attacker into wasting time on a fake system where their every move is observed and tracked. Honeypots delay an attacker from targeting real company systems and can provide valuable information that an organization can use to detect and block potential attacks.

KZero Staff

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