Archive for the ‘Kippo’ tag

Beneficial side effects of running a honeypot  

Posted at 11:42 pm in Uncategorized

Spam (the non-electronic version)

I’ve been running a honeypot for quite a while now, it started out as a pure SSH honeypot – first with Kippo and then I migrated to Cowrie. Some time later I added more honeypot services to the unit in the form of InetSim. The InetSim software provides multiple plaintext services like HTTP, FTP, and SMTP, as well as the encrypted versions.

HTTP and FTP are services where the intruders will try to download something from the honeypot, and InetSim will serve them a predefined set of standard sample documents. The HTTP and FTP also allow uploads, in which case any submitted content will be saved for future analysis by the honeypot administrator.

However, the funniest side effect of running InetSim – at least so far – is with its SMTP service. Spammers will happily use this, what they will think is a newly discovered “open relay”, for distributing annoying spam and/or more malicious phishing mail. All the spam they push through the service acting like an MTA will of course be sinkholed (and saved locally), while they most likely believe that they have distributed their content.

As the below table listing the last two weeks’ top 10 most active spammer IPs shows, the most active spammer “successfully delivered” no less than 300 000 spam messages through (or rather to) the honeypot SMTP. The honeypot itself will obviously drop those mails to the ground, and if the software hadn’t done it (or if the attacker had found a way to break out of the honeypot), the honeypot resides in a very strictly controlled environment ensuring that no spam would’ve found its way out anyway.

IP addressNumber of spam mails

While neither spam, phishing mails nor open mail relays are normally laughing matters, I truly enjoy knowing that the spammers have wasted their time with a non-functional mail server believing that they got their job done. One can also hope that the people behind the spam/scam pays for their service.

Written by admin on July 13th, 2016

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More Logstalgia fun: Honeypot visualization  

Posted at 7:37 pm in Uncategorized

As the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, it’s not that bad, but with a tool like Logstalgia available there’s a pretty low threshold for looking for other ways to use it. So why not try visualizing honeypot login activity?

I’ve been running a honeypot for some time, first using Kippo and later switching to Cowrie. Among Cowrie’s useful improvements is the ability to log to syslog. Already having a parser in place for converting syslog activity to a feed that Logstalgia accepts, adding Cowrie-to-Logstalgia support didn’t take much effort.

An additional parameter is added to indicate successful logins (at least from the intruder’s point of view), Logstalgia intuitively shows this by making the paddle not block the attempt. Also, instead of faking some status code, I set up the converter to assign the login name to the “URL” field and the password to the “status code” field. That way Logstalgia shows consecutive attempts with the same login name as a series of attacks on the same resource, while the different attempted passwords bounce off the paddle.

Note that the short video is running at 4x normal speed. You’ll have to click to make it start.

Sample syslog input (slightly redacted for readability):

cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,446,] login attempt [ts/ts] failed
cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,447,] login attempt [apache/apache] failed
cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,448,] login attempt [games/games] failed
cowrie: [SSHService ssh-userauth on HoneyPotTransport,449,] login attempt [minecraft/minecraft] failed


The corresponding Logstalgia feed:



The output was fed to Logstalgia like this:

cat output.txt | logstalgia -600x200 -g "Login,URI=^[a-zA-Z0-9],100" -x -


With live visualization via syslog, the data is fed to Logstalgia directly and not from a file like shown above.

For a nice final touch, I’ve also added a Munin graph showing honeypot login attempts. The graph was made with the “loggrep” plugin, looking for corresponding values.

Written by bjorn on February 9th, 2016

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