Sandia Labs studies phony computer network for hackers

Thursday, 20 November 2003, 4:57 PM EST

Instead of merely fending off thousands of daily computer attacks, federal researchers are trying a new tack: Create a meaningless digital universe to bog down hackers and study their tactics.

It's called a "honeynet," and while the idea isn't exactly new, branches of the U.S. defense community are starting to embrace the idea.

"If I can detect and delay someone until I can get a (law-enforcement) response to where they are, then I don't need to build four-foot-thick bunkers to keep them out," said Barry V. Hess, co-manager of cybersecurity for Sandia National Laboratories.

Network-security experts at Sandia's California campus in Livermore are experimenting with such a mirage this week in Phoenix.

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