Cabinet Office invests in ‘honeypot’ cyber traps to help protect network

Written by Sam Trendall on 2 May 2023 in News

Department invests in technology from specialist start-up

Credit: fancycrave1/Pixabay

The Cabinet Office has invested in specialist “honeypot” technology designed to help detect and disable cyberattackers.

Newly published commercial information reveals that, on 6 April, the department entered into a two-year deal with Thinkst – a specialist start-up which pioneered canary technology, which refers to hardware or software tools that can be deployed on a network to identify attacks or other unauthorised access.

The technology from Thinkst – which is called Canary – is designed to mimic the networks or services of the company’s customers.

“When… attackers… encounter a Thinkst Canary, the services on offer are designed to solicit further investigation, at which point they’ve betrayed themselves, and your Canary notifies you of the incident,” according to the company’s website.

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The Cabinet Office has invested in “21 Canaries and [a] management console”. The deal signed by the department – via its recently rebranded CO Digital technology unit, which has a remit of “enabling and transforming the Cabinet Office” – also includes “all updates, support, warranty, and unlimited Canarytokens” , a tool which allows users to “implant traps” on their systems and ensnare attackers.

According to the text of the contract – which government procurement archives indicate is the first public-sector deal won by the South Africa-based start-up – the canary technology will allow the central department to identify threats much more quickly.

“A canary honeypot is a system that mimics a production system and is deployed to service as an early-detection mechanism in the event of a network breach,” the document said. “Canaries constantly report in, and provide an up-to-the-minute report on their status, allowing for real-time alerting should unauthorised access to the Cabinet Office network be detected.”

The technological concept of the canary system is named in reference to the role played by canaries in helping to detect harmful gases in coalmines.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on

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