Join us for the Honeynet Workshop 2024: May 27th–29th, Copenhagen, Denmark


29 Sep 2020 Irini Lygerou honeypot mobile mobile-hostage

HosTaGe: a mobile honeypot

Why I choose this project

I am passionate about Network Security, Cybersecurity, and programming, and I wanted to get involved with a project that includes it all.

HosTaGe project drew my attention because I found it really fascinating the idea that any android device can be turned into a honeypot and be transformed into an essential tool for attack detection.

I wanted to work on this project because it allowed me to improve this new generation of mobile honeypots and consequently improve the security of the internet in general.

Project Overview

HosTaGe is a low interaction mobile honeypot for Android devices. The idea is to have a fast, on-the-go honeypot that emulates most modern protocols. Hostage is already mature, and this project will
be focusing on its improvement (e.g., IoT protocol support, visualizations, security features, etc.).

Source code of this project can be found here.

What did you do for the project, briefly? (TL;DR)

I simulated 3 new IoT Protocols (MQTT, AMQP, CoAP) and 4 new systems (MQTT Broker, MQTT Temperature Sensor, ESP8266 Smoke Sensor and an Arduino system).

I also implemented the integration of Hpfeeds which publishes the attacks in a MongoDB database instance.I improved the app’s UI and performance, in addition with fixing bugs , upgrading deprecated libraries and unit testing.

And finally I prepared a successful launching for the Play Store!

Goals and Challenges

The project goal was the improvement of HosTaGe and launching it as a part of the Google play store as well as part of the Honeynet Project’s arsenal.

The completed challenges for the project are the following:

New Features

This challenge includes all the new features that are introduced.

  • New Protocols simulation
    The app now fully simulates 3 new IoT protocols: MQTT, CoAP, AMQP.

  • New Systems Simulation
    Four new systems are added: MQTT Broker, MQTT Temperature Sensor, ESP8266 Smoke Sensor, and an Arduino system.

  • Hpfeeds integration
    The app now integrates the hpfeeds publisher, which can be enabled from the Settings of the app. With this publisher, we can publish the attack records captured by honeypots to a central repository.

  • Use on Unrooted devices
    The app can now simulate all the protocols in an un-rooted device, allocating all the <1024 to random ones with a more significant number.

  • Compatibility for Cellular Networks
    Compatibility for cell networks was added. Now the user can use the app in a 4g or 3g network.

  • GreenDao Integration
    GreenDao ORM integration was added for better performance and faster queries for the local database.

  • Pagination
    Data pagination was implemented. The records are not all loaded simultaneously, but they are added gradually with scrolling when users access them.

  • Crashlytics-Firebase
    Firebase and Crashlytics SDKs added.

UI Improvements and Compatibility Checks

This challenge focused on improving app UI and solving compatibility issues.

  • Material Design
    Material Design library was added, and UI improvements were implemented, including new buttons, colors, dialogs, etc.

  • Compatibility
    The app now is targeting the latest 29 SDK with minimum support for 24 SDK. Also, Android X migration was added.

  • Logging
    The logs are showing the IP address as a header.

Bug Fixes & Maintenance

This challenge involved bug fixing and maintenance of existing services of the app.

  • Bug Fixes – Issues
    A lot of bugs are fixed, including runtime errors from background services that needed new permissions.

  • Fixing Broken Protocols
    The SMTP, SMB, and FTP protocols were broken due to old libraries or bugs. They are now fixed.

  • Rooted phones issue
    There were issues for rooted phones, and therefore the services were not bound to the default ports. The script for the rooted phones needed an upgrade.
    A significant issue was that a lot of phones were missing the iptables library. An API was introduced to install the needed libraries and execute every iptable’s command separately.

  • Permission Dialogs
    Permission dialog is now included with a redirection functionality in the App Settings when a user denies them. The permissions were for Location and External Storage writing.


Maintenance tasks included an upgrade and refresh of the API keys and references.

  • Update of API keys
    Google maps key was updated; also, the HTTPS certificate was replaced.

  • Update of Libraries
    A lot of libraries were upgraded or removed.

  • Deprecate old features
    This includes the synchronization of tracing monitors and the bro-signature feature. The GHOST protocol was also disabled.

  • Test Libraries
    Test frameworks added to the main functionality of the app like Espresso, Robolectric, and PowerMock.
    Also, a python script was added for a full live-attack test.

  • Memory Leaks-Performance Optimization
    A lot of memory leaks are now fixed. Memory consuming MultiStage Service was disabled from default. Thread concurrent modification exception error fixed.

Publishing on the Play Store

The app is available on Google Play Store here.

Challenges faced

The biggest challenge that I faced was implementing iptables in phones that didn’t have it pre-installed.
After studying the topic, the AFWall+ API’s modification, and my mentors’ support I resolved it, which made me very happy :).

Pull Requests



Next Steps

I learned many things in this project, and I am thrilled that I was part of it, and I would like to continue contributing even after GSoC.

New features that can be introduced:

  1. Production Mode Settings
  2. IPv6 Support


Overall it was an incredible and educational experience working with The Honeynet Project organization these past three months.

I also wanted to thank The Honeynet Project and Google Summer of Code for providing me with this opportunity and especially my mentors, for being supportive and motivated me through all this process! :)