honeypot network security

Honeypot / honeyd tutorial part 1, getting started

If you’ve somehow found my obscure site then you probably already know a little bit about honeypots and their functionality, if not here is a good breakdown. There are many different types of honeypots and these different types are explained very well in the book Virtual Honeypots which I highly recommend you read if you are serious about deploying a honeypot. This series of articles will focus on honeypots using an application called honeyd. There are a number of honeypot solutions out there but I personally feel like honeyd is a great fit because it can be relatively simple or you can start tweaking it to get a more full featured product. You may think of honeypots as internet facing and it’s true that they can be configured that way but during this series of tutorials I will only be using honeyd on an internal network. Internet facing honeypots are mainly used to research and find new malware, internal honeypots are mainly used as alerting systems that would alert you when other devices / users are connecting to your honeypots. You can also use honeyd when investigating malware which I’ll discuss in a later tutorial.

For this tutorial I will be using one Windows machine and one Linux machine, Backtrack distribution to be exact. Backtrack will be the machine that is running honeyd. Honeyd is available for Windows but I highly recommend that you use honeyd on Linux. If you’re half way interested in information security then I suggest that you get to know Linux as there are a lot of information security tools such as honeyd that use Linux. Sorry for the Linux rant, below is basic diagram of my setup.

The idea here is that we’ll install and configure honeyd on Backtrack then simply test that we have connectivity with our Windows machine. To see if you have honeyd installed on Backtrack (or any Linux system) simply type “honey + TAB”, if “d” is shown right after honey then you know you have honeyd installed as it is an available command if you don’t have honeyd installed on Backtrack run the following command

sudo apt-get install honeyd

This will also work for any Debian based Linux system. To install on other distributions such as Gentoo, Fedora, Slackware, etc I would check their documentation on how to install packages. After honeyd is installed the next thing we’ll need to do is create a configuration file. A honeyd configuration file is the heart of your honeypot. The configuration file tells honeyd what operating system to emulate, what ports to open, what services should be ran, etc. This config file can be tweaked to emulate all sorts setups but for right now let’s look at a simple setup and get that up and running. Below is my config file.

create default
set default default tcp action block
set default default udp action block
set default default icmp action block

create windows
set windows personality "Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1"
set windows default tcp action reset
add windows tcp port 135 open
add windows tcp port 139 open
add windows tcp port 445 open

set windows ethernet "00:00:24:ab:8c:12"
dhcp windows on eth0

Within Backtrack you can use Kate or nano text editors to create this file. In Backtrack Kate is under the Utilities menu. The “create default” section simply tells honeyd to drop traffic unless it is defined later in the configuration file. I find this section is needed when you let your honeypot acquire an IP address via dhcp. Also it’s probably a good idea to implement this section so that you only answer to network connections that you define later in the config file. Anytime you see “create” within the config file you are creating a template for a honeypot, so you can create as many honeypots as you’d like within the honed.conf config. In the windows template we are defining a number of things. First we are setting the personality, meaning when another device on the network connects to this honeypot it will appear to be a Windows XP Pro SP1 device. This is emulated via network stack fingerprints. In the windows template I’m also opening up three ports (135, 139, and 445). These are common ports that are open on a windows system. The “action reset” statement will drop traffic if it is not aimed at the open ports defined in this config. The “set windows ethernet” sets a MAC address for our honeypot.  This will be needed if you run your honeypot via dhcp. You can simply make up any MAC address you’d like, I usually keep it close to the physical MAC address that I’m running the honeypot off of. Finally the dhcp statement tells the windows template to acquire an IP address from dhcp. Now that we have our honeyd.conf file properly setup it’s time to launch honeyd, below is the command I use when initially getting honeyd up and running.

honeyd  -d  -f  honeyd.conf

Here we use the -d so that it doesn’t run in the background (or doesn’t run as a daemon in Linux terms). This allow for more verbose output so that we can troubleshoot as needed. Running in this mode will also show the IP that was given to our honeypot via dhcp. Below is the type of output you should see after running the honeyd command.

Honeyd V1.5c Copyright (c) 2002-2007 Niels Provos
honeyd[1870]: started with -d -f honeyd.conf
Warning: Impossible SI range in Class fingerprint "IBM OS/400 V4R2M0"
Warning: Impossible SI range in Class fingerprint "Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 SP3"
honeyd[1870]: listening promiscuously on eth0: (arp or ip proto 47 or (udp and src ...
honeyd[1870]: [eth0] trying DHCP
honeyd[1870]: Demoting process privileges to uid 65534, gid 65534
honeyd[1870]: [eth0] got DHCP offer:
honeyd[1870]: Updating ARP binding: 00:00:24:c8:e3:34 ->

In this verbose output we see that dhcp gave our honeypot the address of From our windows machine let’s ping that IP address and make sure that we have connectivity. You should see output on the terminal similar to below.

honeyd[1870]: arp reply is-at 00:00:24:c8:e3:34
honeyd[1870]: Sending ICMP Echo Reply: ->
honeyd[1870]: arp_send: who-has tell
honeyd[1870]: arp_recv_cb: at 00:0c:29:7e:60:d0
honeyd[1870]: Sending ICMP Echo Reply: ->
honeyd[1870]: Sending ICMP Echo Reply: ->
honeyd[1870]: Sending ICMP Echo Reply: ->

So congrats you’ve successfully deployed honeyd. We can now ping our honeypot but we need to make sure the ports we’ve configured to be open are open. Let’s us the cadillac of port scanners nmap to detect open ports on our honeypot. You can scan for all 65,535 ports on our honeypot but to keep the verbose output of honeyd low let’s just scan for a handful of ports. Below is the nmap command I used.

nmap -p 135,139,445,1337

The output of this command should look similar to below.

Starting Nmap 5.00 ( ) at 2011-05-06 13:13 EDT
Interesting ports on someone (
135/tcp  open   msrpc
139/tcp  open   netbios-ssn
445/tcp  open   microsoft-ds
1337/tcp closed waste
MAC Address: 00:00:24:26:C4:ED (Connect AS)

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 0.37 seconds

So honeyd appears to be working correctly. If you’ve reached this point then you are on your way to doing even more with honeypots and honeyd. The main purpose of this article was to get you up and running. In the next series of articles we’ll configure more honeypots, set static IP’s, get alerts on devices port scanning our honeypots, investigate malware, etc. If you have any questions, catch errors, or have any feedback please comment below.

121 replies on “Honeypot / honeyd tutorial part 1, getting started”

Hi, Mr. Travis.
I have tried to install honeyd on ubuntu 14.04.2 LTS, but can not use the command apt-get install honeyd.
I also have tried to install the package honeyd .tar.gz, but there are many other packages that must be installed, and when i install that, i get error message.

can you tell me how to install Honeyd on ubuntu 14.04.2 LTS or can you give me another link that shows the installation Honeyd on ubuntu 14.04.2 LTS?
Thank you


I dont use Ubuntu but they must have removed that package from their repositories. You can usually go here and search for the package. You should probably search for any version as I have done with this link From there you can download the package and usually run the command “dpkg -i honeyd_whatever.deb” to install it. Be careful to note any errors or dependencies. Hope that helps.

Hi ,
Your tutorial on honeypot is awesome.

I am running honeyd 1.6 in ubuntu 14.04 physical machine.I have tried the task in part 1.

nmap -p 135,139,445 from another machine in same network but different subnet.

nmap lists the above ports showing the state of ports as “filtered” and not “open”.
What is the problem,pls. suggest.


Im trying to install honeyd on debian wheezy but it keeps having missing dependencies. how did you get it installed on ubuntu?


I’ve gotten this question before and it’s been a while since I’ve installed honeyd, this was an old project. I’m lazy I just did the normal apt-get install method, then again some older versions of Linux tend to work better with certain software versions. Don’t have much of an answer in this case. Sorry but let me know if you get it up and running and how you did it.

Hi James
I did Install honeyd on my ubuntu machine with no pain using the procedure provided in the github page of the honeyd. I hope that would help you too.

PS: Travis thanks for you great job. That tutorial made my day 😉

help error start honeypot .

stop in proccess stack :

honeyd[2613]: [wlan0] trying DHCP
honeyd[2613]: Demoting process privileges to uid 65534, gid 65534

not running

help please

end process

honeyd[2613]: [wlan0] trying DHCP
honeyd[2613]: Demoting process privileges to uid 65534, gid 65534
aborting dhclient on interface wlan0 after 12 tries

Hey Guys,
is there a way to emulate a Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 or Windows 10.1 Machine? I only found this . But is there a way to implement new Windows machine and how can I create it in the honeyd.conf file.

set windows personality “Microsoft Windows XP professional SP1” (works fine)
set windows personality “Microsoft Windows Server 2012” (doesn’t work)

Thanks for help.
Would you also use it in a productive network as a honeypot?

Hi Travis ,

I have a problem when i writing the honeyd.conf file and running it it shows me the message :
/usr/src/Honeyd/honeyd.conf:8: Unknown personality “Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1”

Please do help:)
Thanks in Advance

Hi Travis ,

I have a problem when i writing the honeyd.conf file and running it it shows me the message :
/usr/src/Honeyd/honeyd.conf:8: Unknown personality “Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1?

Please do help:)
Thanks in Advance

To Rob who posted in 2013, thank you & I LOVE YOU – no homo
I’ve spent 10 hrs troubleshooting and searching through web – reinstalled linux 12
3 times – tried it on backtrack too – going through forums and countless tutorials, only to find out that I had to change promiscuous mode to “allow all”.

Also, thaanks for the tutorial, its great.

Heloo there Travis,

i get an error after starting honeyd with you config file: “aborting dhclient on interface eth0 after 12 tries”
can you help me.

Thanx in advance.

Hi someone have clue if it’s possible to use Honeyd for HTTPS?
I can’t find any information but I’m quite sure it could be.
thank you in advance


I am getting the following error when trying to run for the example config file. Does anyone know how to fix this issue?

Honeyd V1.5c Copyright (c) 2002-2007 Niels Provos
honeyd[2265]: started with -d -f honepots.conf
honeyd: ip_open: Operation not permitted


i get an error after starting honeyd with you config file: “aborting dhclient on interface eth0 after 12 tries”
can you help me

honeyd: interface_new: intf_get: No such device

solution: honey -i eth0
(# ifconfig
it can show your network card

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