Issue Number: Vol. 2, No. 1
Year of Publication: March - 2013
Page Numbers: 103-118
Authors: Ben Whitham
Journal Name: International Journal of Cyber-Security and Digital Forensics (IJCSDF)
- Hong Kong


This paper introduces two concepts: Canary Files and a Canary File management system. A Canary File is a fake computer document that is placed amongst real documents in order to aid in the early detection of unauthorised data access, copying or modification. The Canary File acts as a hidden watermark for a file directory containing critical documents; the Canary File and its contents can be used as signatures to detect suspicious copying, access and deleting of files in the directory in preference to, or in conjunction with monitoring all of the file activity within the network. The name originates from canaries, which were used within coalmines as an early warning to miners. This paper also introduces the Serinus System, a Canary File management system designed to address some of the key challenges associated with creating realistic mimicry across a large and complex computer network. The Serinus System automates Canary File generation using content and file statistics drawn from three sources: (1) Internet harvested documents, (2) documents collected from across the entire enterprise environment, and (3) documents within the specific target directory. Each data source is allocated a weighting based on the strength of their relationship to the target directory. The weighting is seeded with a random value to avoid discovery by simple statistical based fake file detection systems. Research is continuing to assess the performance of both Canary Files and the Serinus System. This paper is an extension of a conference paper presented at The Second International Conference on Cyber Security, Cyber Warfare and Digital Forensic (Cyber Sec 2013).