When you work on the white hat side of computer security most of the time you are playing defense. That is just the nature of the game. When you are on the home team you have to wait to see what the bad guys are going to do next. While you can try your best to guess what they are going to do you have to remember that the bad guys you are going against are humans and humans tend to be very creative when they need to be. There are too many ways to attack even a well secured system so there is no way that you are going to be able to guess all of the angles of attack that someone will be able to make on your system. That’s why you have to be creative when you are trying to be proactive against the bad guys. It is not enough to try and think like they think. Sometimes you are going to have to see how they think as well.
And that means you have to watch their actions and be able to analyze them. You can do that by setting up traps and see what they do with it. This kind of trap is known as a honey pot and it is the kind of trap that you use when you are trying to see the actions of black hat hackers. Think of it is a bear trap in the woods that watches the bear instead of catching them right away. You instead watch the bear, see what he does, and this way you can catch him and other bears later on down the line. While humans tend to be creative in the face of diversity, when they are successful they tend to let up off of the gas and get lazy and start to stick to habits. This includes very smart black hat hackers and this is when you can trap them.
And that is the feeling that they are going to get when they are able to penetrate a honey pot. This is especially true if it is a young black hat hacker. They are going to think that they were able to beat the system and that they were able to get inside and get past serious security. But you know that is not the case. You know that you let them in so that you can see what they are going to do next. So you can just sit back and bide your time and wait for the right time to strike.
A honey pot will also allow you to defend yourself from future attacks. There are very few black hat hackers out there who are what you would consider elite level. Most of them just follow the tricks of all of the other black hat hackers out there. When you see these tricks in action you will be able to defend your network from them later on. So not only will you be able to stop the bad guy that you were watching but you will be able to stop most of the other bad guys who try to get in later on.
But you should not feel too secure when it comes to honey pots. While they do help, it is not going to give you all of the secrets of the bad guys on the internet. You are still going to have to work at other lines of defense to stop them as well. Basically honey pots are very helpful but only when you have other forms of defense as well.