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Canary token

Canary token

(also honey token)

Canary token definition

A canary token, also known as a honey token, is a specialized digital identifier that indicates when it has been accessed or utilized. Cybersecurity professionals often integrate these tokens within networks, files, or systems to generate alerts upon detecting suspicious or unauthorized activity. Implementing canary tokens can help detect data breaches, attempted intrusions, and insider threats.

See also: honeypot, network intrusion protection system, data breach

Canary token examples

  • Network security: Canary tokens can be placed in a network to alert when an unauthorized user is attempting to gain access.
  • Document tracking: Canary tokens can be embedded into documents or files to signal when they’re opened or manipulated.
  • Database monitoring: A canary token in a database can notify administrators if unauthorized data access occurs.

Comparing a rubber ducky attack with similar attacks

A rubber ducky attack can be compared with other attacks that involve physical access to the device, like an ”evil maid” attack. However, the rubber ducky attack is faster and less noticeable because it doesn’t require the attacker to manually input anything — the malicious USB device does it automatically.

Advantages and disadvantages of canary tokens


  • Detection: Canary tokens enable quick detection of intrusions, breaches, or unauthorized activities.
  • Cost-effective: Creating and deploying canary tokens is relatively low cost compared to other cybersecurity measures.
  • Adaptable: Canary tokens can be customized to suit various systems and environments.


  • Limited scope: Canary tokens can only alert a user to unauthorized activities involving their specific placements. They can’t protect against all forms of attack.
  • False positives: Improper deployment of canary tokens may result in false positives, which can lead to confusion and resource waste.

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