What is a Honey Account?

Ryan Terry - February 15, 2024

Cybersecurity never stands still. Threats evolve, and so must our defenses. Traditionally, security teams have included deception methods — decoys and traps to mislead would-be attackers — as part of their arsenal. These techniques have proven less than ideal in the rapid identification of threats due to deployment complexity and false positives. The honey account is a different tool, one that is gaining traction for its efficiency and safety.

In this article, we’ll explore the honey account — what it is, its advantages, and how to use it within your broader set of security measures.

Let’s begin with some core concepts.

What is a honey account?

Simply put, a honey account is a fake user account created within your system that acts as an early warning system for unauthorized access. Unlike traditional security measures, the honey account is designed to be accessed … by the wrong people.

Differentiating terms

Many technologists confuse the honey account with the honey pot. Adding the term “honey token” into the mix muddies their understanding further. To clarify:

A honey account is a fabricated user account that triggers alerts for unauthorized activity when accessed. The honey account is part of your system, but it serves no real function other than incident detection.

A honey token is a digital resource — such as a document, a database record, or an API key — that alerts you when it is being used. Think of it as a “digital tripwire.”

A honey pot is a digital target specifically designed to lure cybercriminals away from legitimate targets. An example of a honey pot would be a software application or a server that is strategically set up to look attractive to attackers but is monitored closely by security teams to study attacker behavior.

Advantages of using a honey account

Because cybersecurity threats continue to grow in complexity, organizations are constantly seeking effective ways to strengthen their defenses. Honey accounts offer a unique set of advantages that make them an invaluable addition to those defenses. Their advantages include:

  • No false positives: There is no legitimate reason for any user inside (or outside) your organization to access the honey account. Therefore, any activity is automatically suspicious.
  • Rapid detection: The moment someone tries to access the honey account, your security team will receive an alert. This allows for quick action.
  • Easy to maintain and integrate: Honey accounts are simple to set up and can be easily integrated into your existing security infrastructure.

Setting up a honey account

Creating a honey account isn’t complicated, but it does require some strategic thinking.

Steps to create a honey account

To start, here is a simple list of steps you can take to create a honey account:

  1. Identify a target location. Decide where the honey account will be most effective  (e.g., a financial database or a user directory).
  2. Create the account. Select a username and other details that appear realistic so that they’ll blend in with genuine accounts.
  3. Set permissions. Assign permissions to the account that would make it attractive to potential attackers, but don’t actually grant access to sensitive information.
  4. Configure alerts. Connect the honey account to your security monitoring tools. Set up alerts to be triggered for any activity related to this account.
  5. Test your setup. Before you go live, test the honey account to make sure alerts are triggering and notifying you as expected.
  6. Monitor. Let your security tools do the work, always watching for honey account activity.
  7. Review and update. Regularly review the honey account’s settings, updating them as needed to keep up with evolving threats.

Recommendations for improved effectiveness

The following additional guidelines will help improve the effectiveness of your placement and use of honey accounts:

  • Choose realistic names. Provide genuine-looking profile details for your honey account. Avoid obvious names like honey_account or fakeuser01.
  • Grant attractive permissions. The honey account shouldn’t have access to sensitive data. However, you can still set up its permissions to look attractive to an attacker. For example, give it permissions labeled as admin or finance_manager.
  • Associate attractive data. Connect the honey account to dummy data that appears valuable, such as fake financial records or internal memos.
  • Place accounts in multiple locations. Consider placing honey accounts in different parts of your system, covering multiple points of potential entry and attack.
  • Change it up. Periodically change the locations or settings of your honey accounts. Doing so will help you to adapt to evolving security threats or avoid detection by savvy attackers.

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Cybersecurity measures

Using a honey account effectively goes beyond just setting it up; it’s about integrating it into your broader cybersecurity strategy alongside your existing security tools. This integration is essential for the effectiveness of your honey accounts.

Use real-time monitoring tools to keep an eye on the honey account. Any activity should trigger an immediate alert. This requires tight integration with your current monitoring systems, such as a security information and event management (SIEM) platform, intrusion detection system (IDS), or intrusion prevention system (IPS).

Have an incident response plan in place for when an alert is triggered. Incident response may involve actions like locking down other accounts or initiating a full-scale investigation. Many cybersecurity platforms help you design, implement, and execute your incident response plan.

Finally, leverage tools and platforms designed by cybersecurity experts. Advanced security platforms like CrowdStrike Falcon® Identity Protection offer specialized features for managing honey accounts. Falcon Identity Protection helps you automate the process of setting up, monitoring, and responding to honey account activities.


Honey accounts are an effective way to enhance your cybersecurity measures, and they’re simple to set up and use. They provide rapid detection of unauthorized access without the distraction of false positives. They are also easy to maintain. By integrating the use of honey accounts into your cybersecurity strategy, you can add a layer of defense that alerts you to threats and enables you to respond swiftly.

Are you interested in leveling up your organization’s cybersecurity game? Try the CrowdStrike Falcon® platform — which includes Falcon Identity Protection — for free. You can also contact CrowdStrike directly to learn more.


Ryan Terry is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at CrowdStrike focused on identity security. Ryan has more than 10 years of product marketing experience in cybersecurity and previously worked at Symantec, Proofpoint, and Okta. Ryan has a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) from Brigham Young University.