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Honeytokens are fictitious words or records that are added to legitimate databases. They allow administrators to track data in situations they wouldn't normally be able to track, such as cloud-based networks.[1] If data is stolen, honey tokens allow administrators to identify who it was stolen from or how it was leaked. If there are three locations for medical records, different honey tokens in the form of fake medical records could be added to each location. Different honeytokens would be in each set of records.[2]

The uniqueness of Honeytokens is the ability to use it as an intrusion-detection system (IDS), as it proactively works to find suspicious activity within a computer network, alerting the system administrator to things that would otherwise go unnoticed. Along with its practice in organizations, Honeytokens provides drastic improvements to network security as Firewalls alone only can look outwardly to prevent incoming threats while Honeytokens look inwardly to see threats that may have slipped by a firewall.[3] This is one case where they go beyond merely ensuring integrity, and with some reactive security mechanisms, may prevent the malicious activity, e.g. by dropping all packets containing the honeytoken at the router. However, such mechanisms have pitfalls because they might cause serious problems if the honeytoken was poorly chosen and appeared in otherwise legitimate network traffic, which was then dropped.

In the field of computer security, honeytokens are honeypots that are not computer systems. Their value lies not in their use, but in their abuse. As such, they are a generalization of such ideas as the honeypot and the canary values often used in stack protection schemes. Honeytokens do not necessarily prevent any tampering with the data, but instead give the administrator a further measure of confidence in the data integrity.

The term was first coined by Augusto Paes de Barros in 2003.[4][5]


Honeytokens can exist in many forms, from a dead, fake account to a database entry that would only be selected by malicious queries, making the concept ideally suited to ensuring data integrity. A particular example of a honeytoken is a fake email address used to track if a mailing list has been stolen.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Honeytokens and honeypots for web ID and IH
  2. ^ White Paper: "Honeypot, Honeynet, Honeytoken: Terminological issues"
  3. ^ Abdel-Basset, Mohamed; Gamal, Abduallah; Sallam, Karam M.; Elgendi, Ibrahim; Munasinghe, Kumudu; Jamalipour, Abbas (2022). "An Optimization Model for Appraising Intrusion-Detection Systems for Network Security Communications: Applications, Challenges, and Solutions". Sensors. 22 (11): 4123. Bibcode:2022Senso..22.4123A. doi:10.3390/s22114123. ISSN 1424-8220. PMC 9185350. PMID 35684744.
  4. ^ DLP and honeytokens
  5. ^ IDS: RES: Protocol Anomaly Detection IDS – Honeypots
  6. ^ Has my mailing list been stolen? | Plynt Security Testing Learning Center
  7. ^ "Why Honeytokens Are the Future of Intrusion Detection". The Hacker News. Retrieved 2023-08-16.