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Install, setup and configure SSH Honeypot on Ubuntu/Debian

SSH honeypot is a security tool used to detect and respond to malicious activity on a network. It is a decoy system designed to mimic an actual SSH server and attract attackers who are looking for vulnerable SSH servers to exploit. When an attacker connects to the honeypot, they believe they have successfully compromised a real system, but in reality, they have triggered a trap that records their actions and identifies their IP address and other information.

The purpose of an SSH honeypot is to distract attackers from real systems and to gather intelligence on their methods and tactics. By setting up an SSH honeypot, security professionals can gain valuable insights into the types of attacks that are being carried out, the tools and techniques that are being used, and the origin of the attacks. This information can then be used to better secure the actual systems on the network and to develop more effective defenses against future attacks.

To set up an SSH honeypot on Ubuntu, you can follow these steps:

  • Install and configure Honeyd, a software that can simulate multiple virtual honeypots on a single physical device.
sudo apt-get install honeyd
  • Create a honeypot configuration file, which specifies the network address of the honeypot and the services it will offer.
sudo nano /etc/honeyd/honeyd.conf
  • Configure the honeypot to listen on a specific IP address and port for SSH connections.
create honeypot
set honeypot personality "Ubuntu"
set honeypot default tcp action reset
bind honeypot * 22
  • Start the honeyd service
sudo service honeyd start
  • Verify that the honeypot is running by checking the status of the honeyd service.
sudo service honeyd status
  • Configure the honeypot to respond to incoming SSH connections with a custom message. You can do this by creating a script that will run when a connection is made to the honeypot.
sudo nano /etc/honeyd/honeyd-response.sh
  • Add the following code to the script to display a custom message to incoming connections:
echo "This is a honeypot, access to this system is forbidden."
  • Make the script executable:
sudo chmod +x /etc/honeyd/honeyd-response.sh
  • Update the honeyd configuration file to run the script when a connection is made to the honeypot:
sudo nano /etc/honeyd/honeyd.conf
  • Add the following line to the honeyd configuration file to run the script:
add cmd "./honeyd-response.sh"
  • Restart the honeyd service to apply the changes:
sudo service honeyd restart
  • To capture logs of incoming connections to the honeypot, you can use the syslog facility. Add the following line to the honeyd configuration file:
log output syslog
  • Restart the honeyd service to apply the changes:
sudo service honeyd restart
  • Check the syslog for incoming connections to the honeypot:
sudo tail -f /var/log/syslog
  • Note: The steps above assume that syslog is already installed and configured on your Ubuntu system. If not, you can install it using the following command:
sudo apt-get install syslog-ng

In summary, an SSH honeypot is a security tool that serves as a decoy for attackers, allowing security professionals to gather intelligence and protect their network from malicious activity.

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