UNSW Canberra hosts international cyber sleuths


UNSW Canberra is hosting Australia’s first ever Honeynet Project Workshop – an international event exploring methods and tools to detect, observe, and thwart cyber attacks.

Coordinator of the event, and UNSW Canberra alumni Ben Whitham, says the Honeynet Project is an international not-for-profit group of volunteers that work together to build free cyber security software tools.

“For the past 17 years, the project chapters around the world have worked together across national boundaries, meeting once a year at the workshop to collaborate and coordinate.”  

“They also run a public day of TED-style talks on how adversaries use cyber deception, and how defenders can practically deploy it. This is the first time Australia has hosted the workshop.”

Ben, a doctoral candidate at UNSW Canberra, is building his own technology that applies artificial intelligence to cyber deception.

“I was motivated by my experiences trying to defend networks from hackers and malicious insiders,” he said.

“What is not often known is that defenders can use attackers’ own tricks against them to detect, bait, confuse and trap network intruders. We do this by creating decoy computers, files and identities.”

Ben says the premise of his work is that attackers will interact with decoys as they snoop around a network. “If we can create something real enough, and trick them into spending time with decoys, then we can delay their intrusion while learning more about their methods and motivations.”

The deception technology market is growing fast, and is expected to reach around $2billion by 2020. Australia currently has a lack of cyber security skills, but UNSW Canberra offers undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications in cyber security, with an expected 300 advanced-degree-level students graduating in the next three years.

This year the Honeynet Project Workshop expects members from Australia, Singapore, US, China, Japan, Indonesia, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Hungary, Pakistan, UAE, Italy, Poland, Mexico, Spain, Malaysia, Canada, Ukraine, New Zealand and Taiwan, to attend.

The rotating nature of the event means it is a rare opportunity for Australia: “I am excited to be coordinating the event and I think that this is an amazing opportunity for students to meet some of these humble, cyber security developers first hand,” Ben said.


Public events are being held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. To register, go to canberra2017.honeynet.org or call 02 6281 6624 for more information.

The Honeynet Project Workshop is being held at the Adam’s Auditorium, University of New South Wales, Canberra, 15–17 November 2017.