Last week we kicked off a series on security or computer honeypots by discussing the very basics. Some astute readers wanted to better understand some specific examples of honeypots. Generally speaking, there are various types of honeypots, but probably the most familiar are ones that are set up by famous consumer-facing anti-virus companies such as McAfee, Norton, Sophos etc. These are of course set up to find common malware that is directed towards individual computer users. This might include things such as a phishing attacks, bot infection and the like.
By contrast, there is another class of honeypot that is almost invisible to the average person but is arguably more significant in terms of the types of attacks it attempts to thwart. I don’t think there is a common name for these, but let’s call them industrial honeypots. These honeypots are used to protect vital infrastructure such as the power grid, medical devices, automated vehicles, military systems and almost any other major system that is vulnerable to penetration by malicious actors. The principle is the same as any other honeypot, but sometimes security experts must go to extreme means to suss out bad actors. For example, they might set up an entirely fake air traffic control system interface (the honeypot) just to trick a hacker into believing they are compromising their real target and use that to capture or at least thwart a potential attack.
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