Ask The Experts: Favorite HoneyPoint Component

This time around, we got a question from a client where HoneyPoint was being demoed for the experts.

Q: “What is your favorite component of HoneyPoint and why? How have you used it to catch the bad guys?”

Jim Klun started off with:

My favorite component is the simplest: HoneyPoint Agent. 

It’s ease of deployment and the simple fact that all alerts from an agent are of note – someone really did touch an internal service on a box where no such service legitimately exists – makes it attractive. 
No one will argue with you about meaning. 

I have recently seen it detect a new MSSQL worm (TCP 1433) within a large enterprise – information obtained from my own laptop. The Agent I had deployed on the laptop had a 1433 listener. It captured the payload from an attacking desktop box located in an office in another US state. 

The HoneyPoint Agent info was relayed to a corporate team that managed a global IPS. They confirmed the event and immediately updated their IPS that was – ideally – protecting several hundred thousand internal machines from attack. 

Honeypoint Agent: It’s simple, it works.

Adam Hostetler added his view:

I’m a simple, no frills guy, so I just like the regular old TCP listener component built into Agent. We have stood these up on many engagements and onsite visits and picked up unexpected traffic. Sometimes malware, sometimes a misconfiguration, or sometimes something innocuous (inventory management). I also find it useful for research by exposing it to the Internet.

John Davis closed with a different view:

My favorite HoneyPoint is Wasp. Watching how skilled attackers actually compromise whole networks by initially compromising one user machine gives me the shivers! Especially since most networks we see aren’t properly enclaved and monitored. If I were a CISO, knowing what is on my network at all times would be of primary importance; including what is going on on the client side! Wasp gets you that visibility and without all the traditional overhead and complexity of other end-point monitoring and white listing tools.

Have a question about HoneyPoint? Want to talk about your favorite component or use case scenario? Hit us on Twitter (@lbhuston or @microsolved). We can’t wait to hear from you. Feel free to send us your question for the experts. Readers whose questions we pick for the blog get a little surprise for their contribution. As always, thanks for reading and stay safe out there! 

HoneyPoint Security Server ICS/SCADA Deployment Example

Recently, there have been several questions about potential deployment scenarios for HoneyPoint Security Server in and around ICS and SCADA organizations. Here is a quick, high level view of what a sample deployment might look like in a utility or other ICS environment. Note that the sample environment has fully embraced enclaveing. The network is fully segmented based on function.

In organizations where segmentation or the use of enclaves has not been established, HPSS can still be used and would be deployed in much the same manner.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this diagram or about deploying HPSS in your environment. We would be happy to set up a free consultation with you to discuss how the tool could aid in your detection program and give you increased visibility throughout your enterprise.

PS – If the graphic is difficult to read, right click on it and select view in new tab. The theme for the site is having trouble with this particular graphic.


What is HPSS? :: HoneyPoint Agent

This post builds on the What is HPSS? Series. Previous posts are here and here

HoneyPoint Agent is the original detection capability of the HoneyPoint Security Server suite. Basically, it allows a system to offer up a variety of “fake services” to the network for the purpose of detection. These services can either be simple port listeners or can be complex, deeper emulations of protocols like SMTP, HTTP, Telnet, FTP, etc. These ports have no real users and no legitimate traffic flows to them. This means that anytime these ports are tampered with, the interactions are “suspicious at best and malicious at worst”. 


Because the Agent is designed to be extremely light weight in terms of computing power needed, the Agents can be sprinkled throughout the network environment easily. Many organizations simply add Agent into default server and workstation builds, turning most of the systems in their network into sensors for detection. 


Other organizations deploy Agent more sporadically, either using virtual or physical appliances dedicated to HoneyPoint hosting. These organizations often assign multiple physical or virtual interfaces to the devices, allowing them to have a presence on many network segments at the same time.


Still other users leverage an approach called “scattersensing” by deploying HoneyPoint on systems that they move periodically around their environment. This makes for a less dependable detection mechanism, but gives them the capability to get more vision into “hotspots” where targeting is expected or where malware is more likely to pop-up. 


The most successful HoneyPoint Agent deployments use a combination of these tactics, along with including strategies like DNS redirection of known command and control sites and other more active forms of getting bad traffic into the HoneyPoint systems.


HoneyPoint Agent has proven to be very useful in identifying scanning and malware outbreaks. Customers with supposedly secure networks have found malware that had been missed for years by their traditional internal security tools. These were detected when the ongoing slow and low scanning triggered HoneyPoint deployments, particularly for SQL, Terminal Server and other commonly targeted ports.


HoneyPoint Agent can be configured through the command line or via a GUI application, making it easy to manage and deploy. Once installed, it is a “deploy and forget” style tool which doesn’t require ongoing tuning or signature updates. Generally speaking, customers deploy Agent and it runs for years without feeding and care.


HoneyPoint Agent also features MSI’s patented “defensive fuzzing” capabilities (previously known as HornetPoint mode), which can create self-defending services that attempt to take down attacker tools during their probing to interfere with propagation. Still other users automate defense with Agent using it as a means for black holing hosts that probe their environment. In these optional, more active roles, Agent can help organizations strengthen their posture with a “one strike and you’re out” kind of approach. 


HoneyPoint Agent runs in Linux, Windows and OS X. It communicates securely with the HoneyPoint Console. It also features user configurable services, a known scanning host ignore list (for ongoing vulnerability assessment clients) and a wide variety of common service emulation templates (available through support). 


To learn more about HoneyPoint Security Server or to get a demo, please contact us. We would be happy to walk you through the product and discuss how it might fit into your environment. There is even a free for personal use “Community Edition” available to get you started or to let you experience the power, ease and flexibility of the platform yourself. Just give us a call to learn more about HoneyPoint Security Server and HoneyPoint Agent. You’ll be glad you did! 

What is HPSS? :: The Console

This article builds on the What is HPSS? Series. The original overview article is here

The HoneyPoint Security Server Console is the “brain” of the HoneyPoint product platform. It is the central component responsible for getting alert data from the sensors, tracking and maintaining the alert data, presenting it to the user and safely passing the essential alert data on to the automated plugins or other systems in the security event chain.


The Console is a GUI application that includes a built-in database engine for tracking Alert Data state and to empower reporting and analysis over time. Alert Data from the sensors are sent to the Console over TCP and the data is encrypted. The Console application runs on Windows, Linux and OS X. 


Once the Console receives Alert Data from the sensors, it parses it to validate that the data is good and checks to see what actions it should take based on the alerting configuration, assigned admins list, ignored hosts lists, and other trust rules in place. 

It then presents the alert data to the appropriate mechanisms, alerting users, passing the desired elements of the alert data to syslog/event log on the Console system for upstream processing by SEIMs or other event tools. The Console also passes certain event data as determined by the configuration into the “plugins mechanism”. 


The plugins then execute the desired operations on the data, easily allowing the security team to further extend reporting to custom event handlers or perform automated responses. This flexible solution empowers the security team to integrate HoneyPoint Security Server fully into whatever technology platform/response process they desire or have in place.


Reporting from the Console is very simple. The included reporting engine can create a wide variety of canned reports in either CSV or HTML format, ensuing that the data in the HoneyPoint system is easy to use. Additionally, other reporting tools like Crystal Reports or the like, or even languages like PERL, Python or Ruby, can easily attach to the Console database to create whatever types of custom reports you desire.


All in all, HoneyPoint Security Server was designed to make it easy to use and yet flexible enough for the most demanding and mature infosec teams. The console interface is friendly, functional and easily understandable. Most teams require less than a 30 minute walk through before they are off and running with the basic detection power HoneyPoint provides. When they get comfortable with the system, they quickly master the plugins meta-language and are soon automating large groups of detection and response tasks.


To learn more about HoneyPoint Security Server or to get a demo, please contact us. We would be happy to walk you through the product and discuss how it might fit into your environment. There is even a free for personal use “Community Edition” available to get you started or to let you experience the power, ease and flexibility of the platform yourself. Just give us a call to learn more about HoneyPoint Security Server Console. You’ll be glad you did! 

What is this HoneyPoint Thing Anyway?

Launched in 2006, initially as a distributed honey pot product, HoneyPoint Security Server (HPSS) has grown well beyond the initial concept. Today HPSS is a platform of components woven into a tightly integrated, fully capable, extremely flexible threat detection product. Organizations around the world are using it as a means of early detection of internal and external attackers, malware outbreaks and signs of users poking around where they shouldn’t be. Mature organizations have leveraged the product as a means of deterring attacks through automated black holing of scanning hosts on their perimeter, embedded detective controls inside their web applications to cut off users violating their terms of service and gather real world threat metrics to feed back into their mature risk management initiatives.


In the world of ICS/SCADA, HoneyPoint has found a quickly growing set of fans. HPSS can be deployed in a completely passive way that has no chance of interfering with critical operations, yet still brings incredible detection capability and vision into even the most sensitive of networks. ICS/SCADA environments have traditionally embraced the honeypot ideal, coining the term “canary” for these tools, but never before have they had such an easy to use, distributable, centrally monitored honeypot capability like HoneyPoint brings to the table.


Over the next few months, we will be deep diving into each of the HPSS components, but for now, as a high-level overview, here is a quick and dirty explanation of each of them:


  • HPSS Console – This is the central “brain” of the product. Designed as an easy to use GUI application, it receives the alerts detected by the sensor components and presents them to the user for analysis. It includes the “plugin” capability which allows for additional reporting and security automation based on the event data detected. The Console provides for “point and click” easy integration with SEIM products for clients who have deeper back-end data aggregation systems in place.
  • HoneyPoint Agent – This is the original HoneyPoint detection capability. Agent creates “fake services” on the network that have no real use other than detection. Since the services aren’t real, any interaction with them is “suspicious at best and malicious at worst”. Agent is capable of emulating a great variety of services and is completely user configurable. Agent runs on Windows, Linux and OS X. 
  • Wasp – Wasp is HoneyPoint’s hybrid client for Windows systems. It offers many of the port dilation features of Agent, but layers on top of that a whitelisting detection mechanism, file change detection for key files and some simple heuristics to identify the most common signs of intrusion. Tiny footprint, immense flexibility, self tuning whitelisting and no interference with operations make it an excellent choice for critical infrastructure use.
  • HoneyPoint Web – This is a completely emulated web environment with a mock up of applications that the organization uses. The entire environment is “fake” and studded with detection mechanisms that capture and measure attacker behavior, intent and capability. It might seem to be a new version of a banking application “accidentally” exposed to the Internet, or a replica of an HMI or maybe a login portal for Sharepoint/VPN or some other mechanism. What it really is is a detection mechanism for the good guys. Completely customized, able to detect the difference between a human attacker and most malware, it offers organizations a deeper, sneakier way to detect illicit behavior and measure the attacker attention various attack surfaces receive.
  • HoneyElements – Embeddable HTML and Javascript objects that can be added to new or existing real web applications, these HoneyPoints extend detection into the layers of the application itself. Integrates well with automated response and attacker black holing defenses to stop attackers and those engaging in undesired behaviors in real time.
  • HoneyBees – These work with Agent to simulate users authenticating to emulated services with plain text credentials. Organizations use this combination of tools to detect sniffing attacks and other attempts to harvest credentials off the wire or from network monitoring systems. 
  • HoneyPoint Trojans – Trojans are “fake” documents, applications or archives that appear to be real, but are actually detection mechanisms. For example, they might appear to be a PDF of some acquisition plans, while in reality they are armed with code to alert the security team when they have been opened or tampered with. Trojans use many of the same tactics as attackers, but instead of infection as a goal, they provide for detection and alerting.
  • HoneyPoint Handler – The Handler is a mechanism for getting external events into the HoneyPoint data ecosystem. Organizations often use the handler to receive events generated by custom nuance detection scripts. For example, a script might routinely check for new files in a directory or new files that contain the call base64decode(). When the script identifies a new file, the script can send an alert to the Handler, which will create a standard HoneyPoint alert from the script’s data and send it to the Console for easy and standardized security event management.
  • HoneyPoint Decoy Appliances – This is a set of hardened Linux powered devices that serve as an appliance for other components, usually Agent and Web. The appliances are available in three physical form factors (a rack mountable server, a mini-desktop, and a field deployable power substation solid state system) and/or a set of virtual appliances for most common virtualization platforms.
  • HoneyPoint Proxy – Lastly, this component is designed to act as an alerting data aggregator to simplify firewall ACLs that might be deployed between DMZ segments, enclaves or other network segments. The proxy can receive events from HoneyPoints and send them on to the Console without the need to expose the Console to each individual HoneyPoint. This makes managing global and highly distributed deployments significantly easier.


To learn more about these components and how they can be leveraged to give your organization new, flexible and deep detection capabilities, give us a call. Our engineers would be glad to discuss the technical capabilities and an account executive would be happy to work with you to create a HoneyPoint deployment that meets your needs AND your budget. At MicroSolved, we are passionate about information security and HoneyPoint Security Server is just another that way it shows!