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What is a Canary Trap?

 , updated on March 10, 2017
A canary trap is a strategy to identify the source of an information leak that involves distributing different versions of the same story to different entities. If one of the stories leaks, the entity responsible can potentially be identified.


A firm has experienced its product plans being leaked to the media. The CEO believes that it is a top level executive who is the source of the leaks. The firm communicates different fictitious products to the head of marketing, sales and operations with instructions that the information is strictly confidential. If one of the stories leaks, the source may be identified.


People typically find out that you have given them incorrect information and may deduce that you don't trust them. This can backfire.
Overview: Canary Trap
TypeInformation Security
DefinitionDistributing different versions of information to different entities to determine the source of an information leak.
EtymologyThe term canary trap was coined by Tom Clancy in the novel Patriot Games. The technique existed before the term.
Related ConceptsHoneypot
Information Security
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Information Security

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Canary Trap
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