Secure Honey

SSH honeypot written in C

You are now Authorised

Friday 15th November 2013 18:53

door unlockedThe honeypot's been active for 26 days and it's received 15,680 login attempts. The most common password is "123456" which has been used 323 times and the top username is "root" which has been used 11,703 times.

Some interesting media coverage appeared in the news last week: a list of Adobe usernames and passwords was leaked and then analysed by security researchers (Analysis reveals popular Adobe passwords). The top password, used by 1.9 million Adobe users was "123456" which is also the top password being used by attackers on my honeypot.

I've also setup a Facebook and Twitter script which posts the days most commonly attempted usernames and passwords. You can like the project's Facebook page or follow the project on Twitter for daily attack stats.

In the last post I ended by saying I'd be moving onto phase two: authorisation. Phase two took a little longer to start since the university deadline for project interim reports was on the 5th November. This meant phase two implementation was delayed by about two weeks while I worked on the interim report.


Over the past week I've been working on implementing authorisation and emulating the shell command line interface.

The first step of phase two was to authorise clients that enter a correct username and password. Based on James Halliday's libssh example on GitHub (samplesshd-tty.c line 178), I was able to use the authenticate function to achieve this:

static int authenticate(ssh_session session, struct connection *c) {
    ssh_message message;

    do {
            case SSH_REQUEST_AUTH:
                    case SSH_AUTH_METHOD_PASSWORD:
                        printf("User %s wants to auth with pass %s\n",
                               return 1;
                                                SSH_AUTH_METHOD_PASSWORD |
                        // not authenticated, send default message

                    case SSH_AUTH_METHOD_NONE:
                        printf("User %s wants to auth with unknown auth %d\n",
                                                SSH_AUTH_METHOD_PASSWORD |
                                                SSH_AUTH_METHOD_PASSWORD |
    } while (ssh_get_status(session) != SSH_CLOSED ||
            ssh_get_status(session) != SSH_CLOSED_ERROR);
    return 0;

Which uses the auth_password function to check if the correct username and password has been provided:

static int auth_password(const char *user, const char *password){
    if(strcmp(user, "root"))
        return 0;
    if(strcmp(password, "123456"))
        return 0;
    return 1; // authenticated

As you can see in the above code I've set the username to "root" and and password to "123456" since this is the most common username and password combination that's been attempted on the honeypot so far.

Once the client has been authorised, the honeypot then sends the SSH_MSG_USERAUTH_SUCCESS (RFC 4252: Responses to Authentication Requests) message to the client, which basically informs the client they've successfully logged in.

Now the client has been authorised, it's time to move on to the next part: emulating the shell.

Shell emulation

Having been authorised, the client is now expecting to be presented with the shell command-line interface. Here's an example of how it looks when I SSH into my raspberry pi from my laptop running Ubuntu:

To get the ball rolling, I started by echoing back anything the client typed into the honeypot:

    i=ssh_channel_read(chan,buf, 2048, 0);
    if(i>0) {
        ssh_channel_write(chan, buf, i);
        if (write(1,buf,i) < 0) {
            printf("error writing to buffer\n");
            return 1;
} while (i>0);

What this does is to display characters typed by the client onto the clients terminal window. However, emulating the shell turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected.

One of the main problems I encountered was how to handle the arrow keys. Since the above code simply echoes back all the clients input, if the client pressed the up arrow key this would result in their command-line cursor moving up on their terminal window. This doesn't sound like a major problem, but the cursor could be moved to anywhere on the terminal window by using the arrow keys, even to text preceding the ssh connection.

This problem turned out to be one of those week-long challenges that seemed like it would never end. I looked into various ways of emulating a shell, even searching around for terminal/shell protocols to prevent the command-line cursor from moving around the entire terminal screen.

In the end I looked at how Kippo and Kojoney tackle this problem. It turns out to be a simple solution: Kojoney just disables the arrow keys altogether ( line 158). So, as a temporary fix to the problem of the movable cursor, I implemented code to not echo back arrow key presses.

The result is that, once authenticated, the client is now presented with this line:

root@ubuntu ~ $

Whereby the client can type away commands to their hearts content. At this stage all commands entered are logged but the commands won't actually execute.

Plan for next week

I'm still working on the stats page, which should include various graphs and charts to present the data collected from the honeypots so far.

I'm also aiming to setup a pure honeypot over the weekend which I'll run in parallel with this project. The aim of running the pure honeypot will be to collect more comprehensive data from attacks to compliment the project.

Image credit: "Door ajar" by Kate McDonald,


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Live Stats (see full stats)

Attempted logins

date range # attempts
past 7 days4,426
past 30 days17,357
all time4,114,040

Top 5 passwords

password # attempts

Top 5 usernames

username # attempts

Stats represent data collected from SSH login attempts on multiple honeypots. Parts of some stats may be filtered to maintain anonymity.

Updated: Tue, 07 Jun 2016 16:33:48 +0000

Live Password Cloud

12qwaszx 963852741 1234%^ POIUYT 12344321 zxcvbn 111 zaqxsw 888888 111111 asdfghjkl a123456 windows qwer1234 q1w2e3 Passw0rd zxcv support 1111 server iloveyou welcome123 user !@ abcdef a cisco 123abc qwer qwerty123 q123456 manager 54321 alpine qq123456 huawei 11223344 password zaqxswcde qazwsx default 1 qwe123 test okokok 88888888 ubnt dragon 159753 147852369 12345678 passwd qwertyuiop 23456 power qwaszx huawei123 changeme123 123123123 5201314 Aa123456 qwe 1qazxsw2 nagios redhat zaqxswcdevfr q1w2e3r4 1234qwer 1qaz2wsx3edc monitor 12345 pass root1234 password123 123qweasd 000000 z1x2c3v4 qaz qazwsx123 f**kyou admin123!@# Pass123 121212 p@ssword 1a2s3d4f 1qaz2wsx Admin123456 woaini zaq1xsw2 linux adminadmin _ system 1qaz@WSX P@ssw0rd1 sapp a1b2c3d4 654321 qazwsxedc 1234 sqlpp qazxsw asdf sysadmin qqpp abc123 idc2008 123123 666666 123456 123qwe 987654321 admin123 admin@123 zhang 789789 11111111 idcidc qwerty123456 secret Huawei@123 !@#$%^ changeme 1q2w3e 147258369 superman 147258 admin1 mnbvcxz admin welcome 225588 !qaz1QAZ 123 p0o9i8u7 apple aaa !QAZ2wsx administrator zzzzzz oracle qwerty china 0000 rootpass 7890pp letmein abcd1234 1122334455 raspberry abc1234 a1s2d3f4 rootroot P@ssw0rd qwert public adminpp 1q2w3e4r5t root 1234567890 qweasd guest asdfgh test123 zxcvbnm caonima - !QAZ@WSX 112233 147147 123654 q1w2e3r4t5 1234567 1q2w3e4r password1 root123 123456789 12345qwert qweasdzxc 110110 159357