Monday, March 17, 2008

Fact Check: Barack Obama's Church

In computer terminology, a honeypot is a trap set to detect, deflect, or in some manner counteract attempts at unauthorized use of information systems. Generally it consists of a computer, data, or a network site that appears to be part of a network but which is actually isolated, (un)protected, and monitored, and which seems to contain information or a resource that would be of value to attackers. A honeypot that masquerades as an open proxy is known as a sugarcane.

A honeypot is valuable as a surveillance and early-warning tool. While often a computer, a honeypot can take on other forms, such as files or data records, or even unused IP address space. Honeypots should have no production value and hence should not see any legitimate traffic or activity. Whatever they capture can then be surmised as malicious or unauthorized. One very practical implication of this is that honeypots designed to thwart spam by masquerading as systems of the types abused by spammers to send spam can categorize the material they trap 100% accurately: it is all illicit.

Honeypots can carry risks to a network, and must be handled with care. If they are not properly walled off, an attacker can use them to break into a system.