Port Mining with HoneyPoints

Myself and a client have been playing around with a new technique that we are calling port mining. In this approach, we use HoneyPoint Security Server and HoneyPoints deployed in key locations to mess with worms, scans and tools.

The process is very very basic. We basically configure a simple HoneyPoint so that instead of sending the various text files it usually sends down the connection it sends a large binary file like an MP3, ISO or other binary data. Then we deploy the HoneyPoint and have it listen on a port for incoming traffic.

When the HoneyPoint gets a completed TCP connection, it immediately shoves the binary content down the pipe. It then waits for a response and sends either the same file again or another file. Very basic, right? Yes, indeed. However, we have seen three effects from this process:

1. In many cases, the file transfer of the first huge file completes and the connection dies with a timeout. In our lab testing, this was due to the unexpected input size and content of the data sent from the HoneyPoint, which has caused multiple forms of tools and malware to simply crash.

2. In other cases, we have seen the file transfer complete and the tool or malware respond only to get the file again down the pipe. We have watched this process act like a LaBrea scenario where the tool, scan or malware is significantly slowed by the data (of course, we are also using a lot of our own bandwidth) and in some cases we were able to cause the MS08-067 scans we were seeing to wait up to 50 mins for each 8 MB MP3 we sent and do this hundreds of times! Effectively, we slowed down that system from further scans while it kept playing with our HoneyPoint.

3. In very few cases, we see the connection terminate upon partial sending of the binary data. In about half of these cases, the connection terminates properly (so likely we had no effect) but in the other half, we see odd disconnections (unknown, but possible crash of the malware). In the lab, we have seen this happen with a few tools due to unexpected inputs causing exceptions in the code.

Now, it should be said, that we are just “playing” with this approach. We are not sure how or if this will be beneficial to anyone, but it was a fun idea to mess with scanners and such in such an easy way. Give it a try and let us know what you think!

PS – Extra points (and fun) can be had for finding the worst MP3 of the most horrible songs that have the largest effective use as a port mine defensive component. So, bust out your one hit wonders MP3 collection and see how your milage varies. 🙂

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About Brent Huston

I am the CEO of MicroSolved, Inc. and a security evangelist. I have spent the last 20+ years working to make the Internet safer for everyone on a global scale. I believe the Internet has the capability to contribute to the next great leap for mankind, and I want to help make that happen!

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