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Please note that GSoC 2011 has now successfully completed. This content is being retained for reference only.
The Honeynet Project
Founded in 2000, the Honeynet Project is a non-profit (US 501c3) research organization dedicated to improving the security of the Internet. For the past ten years everything we have done and continue to do is based on the principles of opensource and volunteer efforts. Our bylaws specifically state any software or papers developed and published by the organization must be licensed as open source and made freely available to the community. Our goal is to help coordinate the development, deployment, advancement and research findings of honeypot related technologies. With over thirty chapters, one hundred members and twenty opensource research projects around around the world, we are a highly diverse and international organization.
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Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2010? What do you hope to gain by participating?
One of our greatest contributions to the security community is new ideas and technology. We find that students often have the most innovative ideas and the greatest motivation to see them developed quickly. With GSoC 2010, we hope to once again be able to tap into the tremendous pool of new student talent around the world and see new and creative open source software projects being actively supported. In addition, in the long term, we hope to be able to continue to identify and develop new members who can go on to contribute to our organization and the community at large (as happened last year with GSoC 2009). Finally, we hope to contribute to the student, education and open source communities by helping sponsored students improve their software development and project related experience. We also had a great time last year and met many new and interesting people, so with Google's continued support we very much hope this will continue in 2010.
Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.
Yes, in GSoC 2009 (our first time in GSoC). We received 55 student applications for a wide range of exciting projects and we were allocated 9 GSoC places (https://www.honeynet.org/gsoc2009/slots). We also managed to fund 3 additional student places for a parallel HPSoC, which ran with exactly the same terms and conditions but private funding. We deliberately used the Google places to fund more projects by previously unknown students and chose to select a broad mix of org proposed and student proposed projects.
All of our GSoC 2009 projects were completed on time and all of our students successfully passed their mid-terms and finals, with many of the projects continuing to be actively developed and maintained for the rest of the past year and a number of the students going on to become permanent, active members of our community. You can find an 'after action' summary report we released at the end of 2009 about our projects and student/mentor/org experiences at https://www.honeynet.org/files/HoneynetProject-GSoC2009-Overview.pdf.
The successes were some very high quality student contributions that successfully advanced the field of honeynet R&D, financial support for open source volunteer developers and introduction of some enthusiastic, skilled flesh blood into our organisation. In a number of cases the tools and techniques went on to become white papers or key tools that supported ongoing security research and malicious attack mitigation within the wider security community. For some students, their GSoC projects led to academic papers being accepted at leading academic and security community workshop such as LEET and EICAR, and helped them to gain entrance to highly prized graduate school positions.
The challenges were mostly logistical - handling many student and project enquiries, reviewing many highly detailed and technical student proposals, only being able to select 9 successful candidates (although we did fund 3 more places ourselves), ensuring everyone involved (both mentors and students) communicated regularly, blogged progress regularly, logged in regularly to IRC, etc and then getting our busy members to find the time to set up and test what were sometimes a quite diverse range of technically detailed and time consuming projects to evaluate and provide feedback on.
Lessons learned were to encourage students to talk to mentors as early as possible, including contributing small pieces of code before applying, so that we could more easily assess their ability levels, appointing more than 2 org admins to ensure the logistics ran more smoothly (this year we have at least 5!) and given the range of diverse projects we support, work on ways of creating a greater sense of shared endeavour between students and non-GSoC participating org members (such as early beta testing, more member feedback on new projects, perhaps focusing on supporting more projects that ran less in isolation, etc).
If your organization participated in past GSoCs, please let us know the ratio of students passing to students allocated, e.g. 2006: 3/6 for 3 out of 6 students passed in 2006.
2009: 9/9 passed (plus 3 additional self-funded places in parallel HPSoC, which also passed)
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Very pleased with the level of mentor and student effort last year, hope to see it continue this year!
If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?
What is the URL for your ideas page?
What is the main development mailing list for your organization? This question will be shown to students who would like to get more information about applying to your organization for GSoC 2010. If your organization uses more than one list, please make sure to include a description of the list so students know which to use.
We have a primary internal mail ling list called firstname.lastname@example.org which is used by our members to coordinate all of our different research projects. Major research projects then get their own dedicated mail list specific to the project, which can be public or private (for example, see https://public.honeynet.org/mailman/listinfo). We also have mailing lists for some individual projects that are hosted on infrastructure outside our own.
Because we have such a wide range of sub-projects, for contact info related to GSoC we'd ask potential students to email us initially at email@example.com, which we'll then direct to the relevant list/people.
What is the main IRC channel for your organization?
irc.honeynet.org (private), although for everything GSoC we use #gsoc-honeynet on irc.freenode.net to make student communication easier
Add a Comment (optional):
We originally started #gsoc-honeynet for GSoC 2009, but since students kept popping in to ask questions we've kept it running all year and this will now remain permanently available.
Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now. Please note that it is a very good idea to ask students to provide you with their contact information as part of your template. Their contact details will not be shared with you automatically via the GSoC 2010 site.
What criteria did you use to select the individuals who will act as mentors for your organization? Please be as specific as possible:
Each mentor has been extensively reviewed and must meet the following minimum criteria:
* Ideally over five years successful experience in opensource work.
* Proven record of leading opensource projects. Must have helped develop and test at least one new opensource technology, be passionate about their chosen field and able to encourage others to work as a team.
* Highly motivated and actively wants a mentoring position. Usually has a specific personal interest in the success of their individual project and experience of dealing with developers new to our Project.
* Must be a proven member of our organization and able to commit the necessary time to the proposed project. Honeynet Project 'Full Members' are people we've met face to face with, know and trust.
* Experienced at distributed development practices and electronic team communcation.
* Usually considered a subject matter expert in their chosen field and used to explaining their ideas to different groups of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Prior experience as a successful GSoC participant a strong positive.
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?
Thankfully we've not had this problem in the past, but our goal is to keep students highly motivated and in regular contact. We believe the key to achieving this is great communication and support. We provide a variety of channels for our members to communicate, including IRC, maillists and VoIP, which will all be made available to sponsored students. However, we understand at times that situations beyond one's control can arise. If a student is not being responsive they will get a one week warning and we will make every effort to contact them and understand how we can help them with their situation. The goal is to identify what issues the student is having and what we can do to better support and help the student. If they are still not responsive then they will get a second and final warning. If after two weeks of no response they will be removed from the program (although we'll do everything we can to try and keep projects on track and avoid this happening).
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?
Most mentors have been a member of our organization for a number of years and are active, motivated security professionals. We have the highest confidence that this will not be an issue. To help protect against this risk, most of our projects have multiple mentors identified and we will normally be able to provide an immediate backup mentor. However, in the rare case that a suitable mentor is not immediately available, a highly qualified back up that is a long standing member of our organization has been identified for each project and will step in to ensure the project remains on track.
What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?
We've kept our #gsoc-honeynet channel on irc.freenode.net active all year since GSoC 2009 and regularly get students dropping in to see what is happening. We've also been fielding emails for a couple of months as the buzz around GSoC 2010 has started to build. We try to encourage students to get involved now, read papers, try our challenges, submit code, etc before official applications begin. We've also regularly blogged throughout GSoC 2009 about our projects (both mentors and students) and followed up on some projects with whitepapers or conference presentations over the past year, plus a summary report (all available from our public web site). We've kept in touch with our past students, encouraged our members to test their tools and provide feedback.
Again for GSoC 2010, each member will be added to our internal communications maillist and IRC channel. Here they will be introduced to our members and given access to a great deal of communication and coding resources. In addition, the Honeynet Project has a variety of mechanisms for interaction with the community, including:
* Public mailing lists for active public projects
* Specialist internal mailing lists for R&D activity on particular topics
* Subversion and trac server for project hosting and collaborative development
* A public website allowing dynamic content, including blogging and projects
* Connections to major academic institutions in almost every country
* Regular face to face meetings at major conferences, workshops and other public or private events
* An invite to our Annual Workshop, which is held in an international location and has 50+ members from over the world in attendance present for intensive R&D, presentations, knowledge sharing and social activities. This year's workshop in Mexico City is in April, where a number of GSoC 2009 students will present or attend.
We aim to bring successful students in to our community, get them involved with other projects and continue to grow our volunteer organisation after the program officially ends. Hopefully a number of this year's students applications will have been introduced to us by last year's successful students, and we may have repeat students or students from last year as project mentors/technical advisors.
What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?
The Honeynet Project has a well established structure, including members, officers, directors and by-laws. Everything is designed to encourage the coordination and communication of our members. We will encourage SOC students to join a local Chapter. Each Chapter is designed to promote members to continue the projects by working with other. In addition, we will give the full support and resources for their project, including hardware and infrastructure. In particular we'll encourage our members to test the student's tools, we'll support and encourage the students to publish white papers / articles / conference submissions about their tools and we'll try and meet up with them face to face at various security community events.
The majority of our members have been with us for many years and actively participate in a number of projects each year, so we'd hope to foster the same level of involvement and continued collaboration with all successful GSoC students. In addition, we can also potentially offer future support for continuation of successful GSoC projects (as has happened with a number of last year's successful projects).
We have a number of GSoC 2009 students who have joined our organisation and become active members with daily contribution, and we hope this approach will continue to bear fruit in 2010.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the Google Summer of Code program administration team? :
We very much appreciated being offered 9 funded GSoC 2009 places in our first year of involvement with the GSoC program, and hopefully you feel (as we do) that the output was of high value to the security, open source and academic communities and so justifies Google's support. Although last year was very successful, hopefully we've learned some lessons and will have even greater success in 2010 with your continued (and much appreciated) support.
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