Know Your Enemy: Learning about Security Threats

Honeynet Project, The  
Total pages
May 2004
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Know Your Enemy: Learning about Security Threats
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Very few organizations today know who their enemy is or how they might

attack; when they might attack; what the enemy does once they compromise a

system; and, perhaps most important, why they attack. The Honeynet Project is

changing this. With the help of members of the Honeynet Research Alliance

and active contributors throughout the security community, this organization is

researching the tools, tactics, and motives of the blackhat community. Their

primary weapon is the Honeynet, a relatively new security technology made up

of networks of systems that are designed to be compromised.

***This second edition is divided into three parts: how to set up a honeynet,

how to analyze the collected data, and what the authors have learned about

"the enemy" from the data. It covers new techniques and technologies never

published before, including second-generation and distributed Honeynets. It

also explains data analysis in much greater detail, with entire chapters dedicated

to Window forensics, UNIX forensics, reverse engineering, and network



Completely revised edition of the one-of-a-kind "intelligence report" on those who use the Internet for destructive means.

° Honeynets are high-interaction honeypots designed to capture extensive information on threats.

° Lead author Lance Spitzner is the founder of the Honeynet Project and the author of Honeypots: Tracking Hackers.

° This book does not contain theories. Each chapter is based on real, designed incidents and attacks within the security world.

Table of Contents




1. The Beginning.

The Honeynet Project.

The Honeynet Research Alliance.

Managing It All: Lessons We've Learned.


2. Honeypots.

Definition of Honeypots.

Types of Honeypots.

Uses of Honeypots.


3. Honeynets.

The Value of a Honeynet.

The Honeynet Architecture.


Types of Honeynets.


4. GenI Honeynets.

GenI Honeynet Architecture.

GenI Options for Data Control.

GenI Functionality for Data Capture.

A Complete GenI Honeynet Setup Example.

How It All Works Together: Example Attack Capture.


5. GenII Honeynets.

GenII Honeynet Improvements.

GenII Honeynet Architecture.

GenII Data Control.

Data Capture.

GenII Honeynet Deployment.


6. Virtual Honeynets.

What Is a Virtual Honeynet?

Self-Contained Virtual Honeynets.

Hybrid Virtual Honeynets.

Possible Implementation Solutions.


7. Distributed Honeynets.

What Is a Distributed Honeynet?

Physical Distribution.

Honeypot Farms.

The Latency Problem.

Setting Up a Honeypot Farm.

Issues Common to All Distributed Honeynets.


8. Legal Issues.

Monitoring Network Users.

Crime and the Honeynet.

Do No Harm: Liability to Others.



9. The Digital Crime Scene.

The Purpose and Value of Data Analysis.

Capturing Different Types of Data Within the Honeynet.

The Multiple Layers of Data Analysis and Their Value.


10. Network Forensics.

Performing Network Forensics.

Network Traffic 101.

Capturing and Analyzing Network Traffic.

A Case Study from the Honeynet.

Analyzing Nonstandard Protocols.

Common Traffic Patterns for Forensic Analysts.

Passive Fingerprinting.


11. Computer Forensics Basics.


Analysis Environment.

Data Acquisition.


12. UNIX Computer Forensics.

Linux Background.

Data Acquisition.

The Analysis.

Readiness Steps.


13. Windows Computer Forensics.

Windows File Systems.

Data Acquisition.

Analysis of the System.

Analysis with Autopsy and the Sleuth Kit.


14. Reverse Engineering.


Static Analysis.

Active Analysis.

A Walkthrough: The Honeynet Reverse Challenge.


Further Reading.

15. Centralized Data Collection and Analysis.

Centralizing Data.

The Honeynet Security Console.



16. Profiling.

A Sociological Analysis of the Whitehat/Blackhat Community.

"A Bug's Life": The Birth, Life, and Death of an Exploit.

Intelligence-Based Information Security: Profiling and Much More.

Bringing It All Together.


17. Attacks and Exploits: Lessons Learned.


Types of Attacks.

Who Is Performing Attacks?

Common Steps to Exploiting a System.


18. Windows 2000 Compromise and Analysis.

Honeypot Setup and Configuration.

Honeynet Setup and Configuration.

The Attack Log.

Threat Analysis/Profile.

Lessons Learned for Defense.

Lessons Learned About Attackers.


19. Linux Compromise.

Honeynet Setup and Configuration.

Forensics Procedure.

The Days After.

Event Summary.


20. Example of Solaris Compromise.

Honeynet Setup and Configuration.

The Events for Day 1.

Day 1 Summary of Events.

The Events for Day 3.

Day 3 Summary of Events.

Profiling of the Intruder.


21. The Future.

Distributed Honeynets.

Advanced Threats.

Insider Threats.

Law Enforcement Applications.

Use and Acceptance.

Blackhat Response.


Appendix A. IPTables Firewall Script.
Appendix B. Snort Configuration.
Appendix C. Swatch Configuration.
Appendix D. Network Configuration Summary.
Appendix E. Honeywall Kernel Configuration.
Appendix F. GenII rc.firewall Configuration.
Resources and References.
About the Authors.

Back Cover

"The Honeynet guys have always been fighting the good fight: messing with the hackers' heads, learning what they're doing, collecting their tools and tricks, and sharing the knowledge with the rest of the good guys. It's one thing to sit around and try to guess what the hackers are up to, but the Honeynet Project just rolled up their sleeves and went on the offensive in their own unique way. Never before has being a victim been so cool! This book is a great resource for the serious information security professional and the beginning practitioner alike."
--Marcus J. Ranum, Senior Scientist, TrueSecure Corp.

"The Honeynet Project is one of the best sources, if not the best source, for information about current techniques and trends in the blackhat community. They are also how-to experts in setting up and gathering information--safely--about these attackers. The Honeynet Project's ability and willingness to share cutting-edge information is an immeasurable benefit to the security community."
--Jennifer Kolde, security consultant, author, and instructor

"Know Your Enemy contains an incredible wealth of information, including legal and sociological topics, that set it apart from other security books. The scope of this book is broad, and while no one book can teach people everything they need to know on such a topic, this one covers the subject better than any other source I know. Know Your Enemy will help security professionals with specific technical information, and it will help more general readers better understand a topic they need to learn about."
--William Robinson, former security training program manager at Sun Microsystems, curriculum coordinator for Fire Protection Publications.

"This book will be an extremely useful tool in helping a network security administrator or professional assemble the technical tools needed to build, maintain, analyze, and learn from a honeynet within their organization. Each technical chapter goes into great detail on commands, log formats, configuration files, network design, etc. As a professional working with many of these technologies on a daily basis, it is exciting to see all of this information in one place. The knowledge and experience of the authors in working with and developing honeynets has grown noticeably since the first book was published. This is a very positive revision."
--Sean Brown, IT Director, Applied Geographics, Inc.

"With the drastic increase in the number of attacks, it is important to have more people within the security industry studying attacks and attackers' motives and sharing their results with the community. This book begins by teaching users whether they should install a honeypot, and then gives details and information about honeypots and how they can deploy them."
--Kirby Kuehl, Cisco Systems

"Know Your Enemy reveals truths about the blackhat community and shows readers how to fight off attacks. The authors contribute their own experiences and offer the curious reader a rainbow of ideas."
--Laurent Oudot, security engineer, CEA

"The Honeynet Project has been blazing a trail and providing a hard dose of reality that computer security needs. Get behind the fantasy and learn what the hackers are really doing. This is great cutting-edge stuff!"
--Marcus J. Ranum, senior scientist, TruSecure Corp.

For centuries, military organizations have relied on scouts to gather intelligence about the enemy. In the field of information security, few scouts have ever existed. Very few organizations today know who their enemies are, how they might attack, when they might attack, and, perhaps most important, why they attack.

If the blackhat community is the enemy, then the Honeynet Project is a most valuable ally. In this completely revised and greatly expanded follow-up to their groundbreaking book, Know Your Enemy, members of the Honeynet Project, the Alliance, and the community (including Lance Spitzner, Brian Carrier, Anton Chuvakin, Eric Cole, Yannis Corovesis, Max Kilger, and Rob Lee) provide an unrivaled "intelligence report" on those who use the Internet for destructive purposes. They also provide an in-depth guide to honeynets--high-interaction honeypots designed to capture extensive information on exactly how your enemies operate so you can protect your systems from them.

Inside, you'll find extensive information on:

  • How to plan, build, and maintain first- and second-generation, virtual, and distributed honeynets.
  • How to capture and analyze data through a honeynet, including the latest on reverse engineering and forensics for Windows, UNIX, and networks.
  • Understanding the enemy, including real examples of incidents and compromised systems, types of attacks, and profiling.

Aimed at security professionals, but containing much information that is relevant for those with less technical backgrounds, this book teaches the technical skills needed to study and learn from a blackhat attack.


The Honeynet Project is a nonprofit security research organization made up of volunteers. These volunteers are dedicated to learning the tools, tactics, and motives of the blackhat community and sharing lessons learned. The Honeynet Project has 30 members, and works with various other organizations through The Honeynet Research Alliance.