They are essentially fake or specially created credentials, data files, or network resources that are intentionally left vulnerable or exposed to attract potential attackers.
The purpose of honey tokens is to serve as an early warning beacon, enabling organisations to detect potential security breaches more effectively. By monitoring activity around honey tokens, security teams can identify and analyze methods, tools, and tactics used by cyber actors, gaining valuable insights into techniques and motives.
In the context of web application development, honey pot tokens can be used as a security measure to identify and mitigate potential threats to your application. Here's some examples of how you can incorporate honey pot tokens into your web application development process and operation:
Honey user accounts: Create user accounts with administrative privileges that are intentionally weak or have easily guessable passwords. Monitor login attempts or activities associated with these accounts, as they are unlikely to be used by legitimate users.
Honey documents or files: Create false documents, spreadsheets, or other files with enticing names, such as "Confidential Salary Information" or "Top-Secret Project Details." Embed tracking mechanisms within these files to monitor if they are accessed or exfiltrated by unauthorized users.
Honey network shares or directories: Set up network shares or directories with enticing names that would be interesting to attackers, such as "Financial Reports" or "Customer Data." Monitor attempts to access or modify these resources
Honey tokens in code or scripts: Embed fake, nonfunctional API keys, credentials, or other sensitive information within your application's codebase or configuration files. Monitor attempts to use these tokens, which could indicate an attacker trying to exploit vulnerabilities in your application to access confidential data.
Honey pot fields: Create hidden form fields within your web application's forms that are invisible to legitimate users but are detectable by automated bots or malicious actors. These fields can be given names like "username" or "email" but should not be displayed to users. When a bot or attacker fills in these fields, it indicates suspicious activity.
Monitoring honey pot submissions
Set up a mechanism to monitor submissions to the honey pot fields. If any data is entered into these hidden fields, it's a strong indication of malicious intent. You can log these submissions, trigger alerts, or take appropriate actions based on your security protocols.
Differentiating honey pot data from legitimate submissions
To distinguish between legitimate user submissions and honey pot submissions, ensure that your server-side validation code checks for the presence of data in the honey pot fields. If data exists, you can consider the submission as suspicious and take the necessary actions, such as blocking the IP address or flagging the submission for further investigation.
Regularly review the honey pot data collected to gain insights into the types of attacks or automated scanning attempts targeting your web application. This analysis can help you identify patterns, vulnerabilities, and potential areas for strengthening your security defenses.
As attackers evolve their tactics, you may need to update and modify your honey pot implementation. Consider changing the names and attributes of the honey pot fields periodically or implementing additional honey pot techniques, such as using hidden URLs or fake endpoints, to lure attackers.
While honey pot tokens can provide valuable insights into potential threats, they should be used as part of a broader security strategy for web application development. Other security measures, such as input validation, secure coding practices, access controls, and regular security audits, should also be implemented to ensure the overall security and integrity of your web application.