Events Open Internet Standards Shaping the Internet's Future Technology

Hackathon at Africa Internet Summit 2019: Network Programmability, Network Time, IPv6, IPWAVE, and Measurement

The Internet Society and AFRINIC collaborated to organize the 3rd Hackathon@AIS in Kampala, Uganda, which took place alongside the 2019 Africa Internet Summit. The event attracted more than one hundred participants who took part in five different tracks at the event. The event has grown from three tracks and 39 participants in 2017 and three tracks with 75 participants in 2018, to five tracks with 100 participants this year. Cisco DevNet has been helping organize the event since the first edition, and this year, they sponsored t-shirts for the Hackathon.

The goals of the Hackathon@AIS and other open standards promotion activities in the African region are to identify, encourage, and expose engineers from Africa to open Internet Standards development, so that they can contribute to the work at organizations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

The event ran for two days, organized as follows:

  • Day 1, June 19th, Morning
    • Opening session covering the goals of the meeting and the overall structure
    • Registration formalities of participants – using information gathered during the registration process earlier in the year, participants were added into corresponding tracks with each track having its own meeting room and facilitators
    • Room and lab setup – connectivity was provided via the Africa Internet Summit connectivity provider (SEACOM)
  • Day 1, June 19th, Afternoon
    • Hackathon activities in each track
  • Day 2, June 20th, Morning
    • Hackathon activities in each track
  • Day 2, June 20th, Afternoon
    • Presentation of results from each track (available on the event website)
    • Closing ceremony with awarding of t-shirts.

The Tracks
This year, there were five tracks:

Network Programmability
In this track, participants were introduced to network programmability concepts and components, including IETF standards such as YANG, NETCONF, and RESTCONF. They then applied what they learned using tools such as pyang, ncclient, and Postman, programming languages such as Python, and sandboxes from Cisco DevNet that provided access to network devices.

Network Time
In this track, participants were taken through Network Time and the work going on at the IETF on how to secure NTP. It started with an introduction on plain NTP, and its basic packet format. The participants learned about wireshark and compiling from source. Later NTS (Secure Network Time) was explained and how it is finally heading to becoming an RFC. This part of the track was challenging due to the mathematics involved. Participants got to work with Chrony and presented their findings at the closing ceremony.

In this track, participants were taken through IPv6 and given a breakdown of the IETF IPv6 working groups (6MAN and v6OPS) and the role of the Working Group chairs at the IETF. Participants were challenged with enabling IPv6 in several IPv4 only open source tools, some of which were completed successfully.

The facilitators proposed that a follow up be made to keep the flame burning, by helping the participants get more familiar with current drafts that are being discussed in the various IPv6 related working groups.

This track covered testing an implementation of a draft being discussed at the IETF under the IPWAVE working group. The author of the track, Professor Nabil Benamar, lead the group in testing some implementations proposed in the draft.

This track covered DNS over TLS (DoT) and DNS over HTTPS (DoH) setups and measuring the performance of caching resolvers against locally-setup DoT and DoH servers against publicly available DNS resolvers. The purpose was to find out the performance differences and the requirements for running a local DoT or DoH server. Some of the results indicated that of the publicly available DNS resolvers, Quad9 ( returned responses the quickest in Africa, but local resolvers (installed in the local lab) were still quicker. Do read a more conclusive report from Willem Toorop from NLnet Labs, who was one of the lead facilitators at the Measurement Track.

Presentations and Materials
Presentations and other content from the event can be found at

Feedback from participants has been positive with almost all participants indicating that the event got them interested in Open Internet Standards and the work going on at the IETF. On what could be improved, the most common feedback from participants has been to increase the number of days for the event which currently stands at 2 days. Participants said more days would allow for more in-depth coverage of document lifecycles (from drafts to RFC) and more time to get into the technical content covered in each track.

Moderator feedback was similar with more time available noted as being key to covering more content in depth.

Participants from some of the tracks such as the IPWAVE went on to update the IPWAVE Working Group at the IETF with the results of their findings from the event. Several participants have also indicated interest in organizing similar activities in their localities or organizing remote viewing hubs for meetings such as the IETF.

The organizers would like to thank the expert facilitators who lead the tracks, the AFNOG tech team for providing the required connectivity, and AFNOG and AFRINIC for sharing the venue during the 2019 Africa Internet Summit.

TheHackathon@AIS 2019 Facilitators were:

Network Programmability

  • Charles Eckel
  • Isabel Odida
  • Michelle Opiyo


  • Loganaden Velvindron
  • Christer Weinigel
  • Jeremie Daniel

Measurement (DNS)

  • Willem Toorop
  • Jasper van Hertog


  • Nabil Benamar
  • Manhal Mohammed


  • Fred Baker
  • Stephen Honlue
  • Brice Abba

Organizing Team

  • Marsema Tariku (ISOC)
  • Stephen Honlue (AFRINIC)
  • Charles Eckel (Cisco)
  • Nabil Benamar (Morocco – School of Technology Meknes, University of Moulay Ismail)
  • Willem Toorop (NLNET Labs)
  • Fred Baker
  • Kevin G. Chege (ISOC)

Report Compiled by:

  • Stephen Honlue
  • Charles Eckel
  • Nabil Benamar
  • Willem Toorop
  • Kevin G. Chege
  • Loganaden Velvindron

Read testimonials from the Hackathon trainers!

Events Open Internet Standards Technology

2019 Hackathon@AIS: Testimonials from the Trainers

What is Hackathon@AIS?

The Internet, with its endless supply of knowledge and information, has become a strategic element in nearly all economic endeavors in Africa. To build tactical awareness among primary stakeholders as well as resiliency and robustness into Internet-enabled grids, the Internet Society and AFRINIC have organized the third Hackathon@AIS event, which is taking place in Kampala, Uganda, from 19-20 June 2019.

Network engineers, software developers, and computer science students from across Africa are gearing up for another round of collaborative computer programming aimed at introducing participants to existing and evolving Internet standards development that can help further their careers through shared skillsets.

The first Hackathon@AIS was held in 2017 in Nairobi and attracted 39 participants from 12 countries. The second event, held in 2018 in Dakar, attracted 75 participants from 15 countries. Both events consisted of three different tracks led by expert facilitators from across the globe. This year, the event consists of five tracks spanning different fields, and again we’ve called on expert facilitators from around the world to share their expertise and guidance.

The Hackathon is a breeding ground for talent that can change the world through innovation and create productivity and efficiency in business. Participants will meet new people with different talents, forming “super teams” – with skilled mentors to guide participants down the right path of on-demand service delivery.

Why Are We Doing It?

The goals of the Hackathon@AIS are to expose engineers to the development process of open Internet standards and to identify strong individuals who can contribute to open Internet standards in the region. Historically, participation from the African region has been low and this event aims to  encourage engineers to contribute to open Internet standards. This year, approximately 400 participants applied and more than 100 are attending the event. Please visit the event web page:

Testimonials from the Trainers

Fred Baker has been working in data communications since 1978, including 22 years at Cisco and 30 years in the IETF. He now co-chairs IPv6 Operations in the IETF and the Root Server System Advisory Committee in ICANN. “This is my first Hackathon as a trainer,” Fred said. “I’m learning as I prepare, and hope to be a benefit to those I work with.”

Loganaden Velvindron, currently working at AFRINIC and the Regional Internet Registry, said, “During the Hackathon@AIS event, I will be working on network time security with Jeremie Daniel, a brilliant student from the University of Mauritius and member on, as well as Christer Weinigel. So far I have attended two Hackathon@AIS events as a trainer. During the first hackathon, students were able to implement part of a spec in FreeBSD, DragonflyBSD, and NetBSD. In the last Hackathon, students were able to implement privacy in a Python NTP implementation, and a single line was added to that draft in the NTP working group to make the draft better. We hope that participants will prepare before they come so that we can move faster during the training sessions.”

Charles Eckel, a developer advocate with a passion for open source and standards, and recognized champion of open source, standards, and interoperability, runs DevNet’s Open Source Dev Center at Cisco, which focuses on Cisco’s major open source contributions, use, and community engagements. He also runs Code Exchange, which helps developers discover, learn, build, and collaborate on curated GitHub projects to jumpstart work with Cisco platforms, products, APIs, and SDKs. Charles introduced open source hackathons into IETF, revolutionizing the way IETF operates and uniting open source software with standards to maximize the pace and relevance of both. The first Hackathon@AIS was modeled after the IETF hackathon as a way to increase IETF awareness and involvement in Africa. At the 2018 Hackathon@AIS, Charles led a successful project focused on network programmability, and for 2019, he is leading a new and improved version of this project. According to Charles, “the Hackathon is a great way for developers and network engineers to learn new skills while actively contributing to the deployment and improvement of IETF standards.”

Willem Toorop, a developer/researcher at the NLnet Labs, works on open standards and open source software for core Internet protocols.  Willem is especially interested in delivering first class security and privacy (with DNSSEC and DNS-over-TLS) to end-users at the edges of the Internet.  “Since the whole world is now using, and increasingly also dependent upon the Internet, every area in the whole world MUST be involved in the development of open standards that is taking place in the IETF,” Willem said. “Topics currently being discussed at the IETF, like consolidation of core infrastructure (like DNS), have far reaching performance and privacy consequences that might be and mean different things in different areas of the world. However, this might not be immediately apparent as the dominance of the central cloud services on the Internet overshadow the underlying infrastructure that enables them. The best way to get intimately acquainted and involved with the open network of networks that is the Internet, is to get your hands dirty and actively participate in one of the topics which are now at the heart of the debate at the IETF.”

“The Hackathons I have supervised have led to a few interesting projects,” added Willem. “Like DNSSEC name and shame, A DNSSEC secured OTR-key lookup to the Python-based Gajim XMPP client. This was also later presented at ICANN50 in London, an emoji-based identification of DNSSEC key.” Willem further noted that the Hackathons in which he has participated were all used to make implementations of drafts he was working on (many for DNS-over-TLS, authenticating upstream with DANE, etc.). The RIPE DNS measurement has also led to the DNS Thought project.

Nabil Benamar, Associate Professor of Computer Networks at Moulay Ismail University, researches topics such as IPv6, vehicular networks, DTNs, IoT, and IDNs. Author of several journal papers and IETF Internet drafts, Nabil is an IPv6 expert ( certified) and IPv6 trainer with many international organizations (RIPE/MENOG, AFRINIC, and Agence universitaire de la Francophonie), as well as a reviewer for Computer Communications (Elsevier), Adhoc Networks (Elsevier), Future Generation Computer Systems (Elsevier), JKSUCS (Elsevier), International Journal of Wireless Information Networks (Springer), AJSE (Springer), and IEEE Access. Nabil is a TPC member of different IEEE flagship conferences (Globecom, ICC, PIMRC, WCNC, etc.), and a member of the organizing committee for WCNC’2019.

Nabil became an expert in Internet Governance after completing the Internet Society’s Next Generation Leaders e-learning program, acting as an Internet Society Ambassador for the 2012 and 2013 Internet Governance Forums, a Google panelist at the first Arab-IGF, and an Internet Society Fellow (IETF 89, 92, 95, 99, and 103), and a Fellow to ICANN 50 and 54.

“The Hackathon is a must for the African community to increase its participation in IETF working groups, and thus participate in shaping the Internet by co-authoring drafts, RFCs, and producing standards,” Nabil said. “Such activities will also lead to hosting an IETF meeting in Africa, which has never been done so far! I think that we need to encourage such an initiative and try to organize at least two hackathons per year.” Nabil further added that the Hackathon held for the African community is an enabler of the possible production of future IETF documents co-authored by African participants. According to Nabil, it is a good idea to lead different tracks in the same hackathon. Each track demands different and specific skills: programming languages, Linux Kernel, Networking, etc.

Events Open Internet Standards Shaping the Internet's Future Technology

Save the Date: Hackathon@AIS

The third Hackathon@AIS will take place in Kampala, Uganda on the 19th and 20th of June 2019. The Hackathon@AIS is an event aimed at exposing engineers from the African region to Internet Standards development and usage. This will be the third event in the series following successful events held in Nairobi (2017) and Dakar (2018), each alongside the Africa Internet Summit (AIS).

See what was covered in 2017 and 2018 Hackathons@AIS here:
2017 Hackathon@AIS
2018 Hackathon@AIS

The event is targeted at network/system engineers, software developers, and/or computer science students to introduce them to existing and evolving Internet standards development that can help further their careers.

Applications for the event will open in April 2019.

Fellowships will be awarded to strong applicants where possible.

Applications will close on 12 May 2019.

For more information please contact Kevin Chege:

Read testimonials from the 2018 Hackathon@AIS fellows.

Events Open Internet Standards Technology

Hackathon@AIS: Testimonies of the Fellows

The Hackathon@AIS is a yearly event, in its second year, aimed at exposing engineers from the Africa region to Open Internet Standards Development. This year, the event was held in Dakar Senegal at the Radisson Blu Hotel, from 9-10 May 2018, during the Africa Internet Summit (AIS-2018).

The event was attended by more than 75 engineers from 15 countries including 11 fellows who were supported to attend the event.

We are happy to share the testimonies of the fellows who attended the Hackathon@AIS.

Abdeldjalil Bachar Bong

Coming from Chad, I have found the Hackathon@AIS to be a wonderful  and collaborative meeting that I have never seen before. It has allowed me to meet some amazing people. These have been some of my most rewarding experiences where African IT Engineers have gathered in the same room preparing to contribute to the Core activities of IETF. With the IPWAVE track I have learned and shared a lot of technical skills and learned some of the best ways on how to be more involved. I am now ready for IETF. Once again Big Thanks to @ISOC_Africa and @AFRINIC.

Adama Assiongbon

Hackathon@AIS has been a very good and enriching experience for me because it is a meeting of ICT sharing especially with the IPWAVE workshop which is a technology of the near future where we will be ready on the African continent to implement this technology and bring more to the development of the continent. It is up to us the beneficiaries of Hackathon@AIS to bring a plus to our communities. The idea of Hackathon is very beneficial for the development of Africa. Thank you AFRINIC and ISOC.

Alkhansa Mohamed

It was a great experience to participate in the Hackathon@AIS as a fellow from Sudan. Thanks ISOC! The workshop was informative and made me more comfortable to the work of internet protocols development. Working in a team from different backgrounds was also great in solving a given problems. I am looking forward to share the experience back home.

Gilles Armel Keupondjo Satchou

First and foremost, I would like to say a big thank you to the entire ISOC team for the great organization and success of this Hackathon@AIS2018. The workshop has been great in sharing, developing and deepening experiences. We hope to see more of these Hackathons as they really allow people to know the RFC and deepen their knowledge. I am very happy to share this great experience with the ISOC Cote D’Ivoire community.

Habtom Tesfaye

Thanks to the IETF Africa Initiative for this great learning opportunity. As a fellow from Ethiopia, I  learned a lot from this training, and I will try to improve my concepts further because of the motivation obtained from this course. I’m glad to have been part of this event and I want to thank the Hackathon@AIS2018 organizers.


Konan Kouassi Montrésor

I am happy to have been able to take part in this Hackathon and also at the African Internet Summit in Dakar, Senegal. I met new people and learned more about IETF activities. Thank you for this opportunity. I will speak to my community about everything I’ve learned.

Lawrence Muchilwa

Coming from Kenya, I had an amazing time participating in the IPWave track. I have already subscribed to the mailing list and look forward to participating in IETF events.  The logistics were amazingly done. Thanks ISOC and the team.

Lino Khalau

I am a fellow from Mozambique. I have enjoyed all the experiences and it was with pleasure that was part of this Hackathon@AIS2018. My many thanks to ISOC for the opportunity. Here I share the three main experiences that I experienced in this marathon: Focus, Leadership and Autonomy in solving a given problem. This hackathon was also an excellent opportunity to be able to contribute in a mutual way for the growth of my organization.

Ramanou Biaou

I am a fellow from Benin. The Hackathon@AIS2018 was a very typical and exceptional experience for me. This Network Programmability Hackathon is a synthesis of skills (System, Network and Programming). The workshop has helped me to learn and understand SDN as well as various tools to help network virtualization and deployment configurations. #Python #Git #OpenDayLight #YangModel #NetConf #RestConf

Regina Nkonge

Having the opportunity to participate in the Hackathon @AIS2018 as a fellow from Kenya has been a wonderful, informative, skill building, eye opening and stellar opportunity to create invaluable human networks of like-minded professionals. I’m grateful for the experience.

Wendwosen Abebe

I am a fellow from Ethiopia and I would like say thank you for making me part of these amazing event. You deserve the appreciation for the every hard and good work you have shown from the very beginning. I found the training very useful and I have benefited a lot from the experts and had to opportunity to create a good network of people for future works. One thing I would like to comment is, instead of putting the French and English speakers together in a large group, it is maybe better to categorize them based on their language skills so as to have better interaction. I will share everything with my friends and technical colleagues when I get back to my country.

The materials, presentation and information on the infrastructure for event can be found here, and the photos from the event here.

Special thanks to the facilitators who lead the event, AFRINIC for helping with the venue and logistics.

Building Trust Community Projects Deploy360 Events Improving Technical Security Open Internet Standards Technology

Hackathon at Africa Internet Summit Focuses on Time, Vehicular Communications, and Network Programmability

We are pleased to announce the 2nd Hackathon@AIS will be held in Dakar, Senegal, on 9-10 May, alongside the Africa Internet Summit. Live streaming will be available. Participants from 14 countries have confirmed their participation and will work on activities centered around three main topics:

  • The Network Time Protocol (or NTP)
  • Wireless communication in vehicular environments – based on Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • Network Programmability

Working on open Internet standards involves a collaborative effort whereby individuals from different backgrounds provide input and expertise to improve the Internet. Work is focused on common objectives with set timelines. This work is mostly done by people in different geographical locations using the Internet (and online tools) to collaborate on the work. In some cases, short technical events called hackathons place experts in one physical location to work collaboratively to solve a problem or develop a new product or output in a short period of time.

Last year, the Internet Society’s African Regional Bureau, together with AFRINIC, organized a hackathon in Kenya, during the 2017 Africa Internet Summit. In Africa, work on open Internet standards development is low, with only a handful of Request For Comments (RFCs) known to have been published by experts from the region. One of the main objectives of the hackathon is to encourage engineers from the region to learn and take part in the open standards development as is done at the IETF among other open standards bodies. The event last year attracted 38 participants from 12 different African countries.

Building on the success of last year’s event, this year 278 participants applied to participate from across Africa. In fact, so many participants applied that not all will be able to participate in person due to venue limitations. Remote participation will be provided to allow interested individuals to participate remotely.

Different experts will be on hand to guide the Hackathon topics including Loganaden Velvindron who currently works at AFRINIC, as a member of the IT and Engineering team. Outside of working hours, Logan has led a few hackathons with the team, where engineers and students in Mauritius work together to make the Internet work better. Loganaden will lead the Network Time Protocol track.

Nabil Benamar, who is an Associate Professor of Computer Networks based in Morocco will lead the track focusing on wireless communication in vehicular environments. Nabil is an IPv6 expert ( certified) and IPv6 trainer with many international organizations (RIPE/MENOG, AFRINIC, and Agence Universitaire de Francophonie). Nabil is an author of several journal papers and IETF Internet Drafts and is currently working on Intelligent Transportations Systems. He is a co-author on an IETF draft on wireless communication in vehicular environments.

Charles Eckel is a developer evangelist with a passion for open source and standards. He runs DevNet’s Open Source Dev Center (, which focuses on Cisco’s major open source contributions, use, and community engagements. He introduced open source hackathons at the IETF ( and MEF (, revolutionizing the way these SDOs operate and uniting open source software with standards to maximize the pace and relevance of both. Charles will be leading the Network Programmability Track at the Hackathon.

The hackathon will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dakar which is also the venue hotel for the Africa Internet Summit. The event’s web page can be found here:

Live streaming will be available here:

We’re looking forward to this Hackathon, and if you are interested in participating in person or remotely, please join the event forum here for instructions on how you can participate.

Events Open Internet Standards

Applications Now Open for Hackathon@AIS

The application process for the Hackathon@AIS is now open. The Hackathon@AIS is an event aimed at exposing engineers from the African region to Open Internet Standards development and is co-organized by the Internet Society and AFRINIC. This will be the second event in the series following a successful event held in Nairobi last year during the Africa Internet Summit.

A list of the topics that will be covered this year can be found here.

Network/Systems engineers, software developers, and computer science students are encouraged to apply as engagement in open Internet standards development can help further their careers.

The event will be held on the 9th and 10th of May 2018 in Dakar, Senegal. If you are interested in participating AND can commit to being available over the 2 days, please complete the application form. Space is limited and successful applicants will be notified and then be enrolled in various online training sessions in the build up to the event.

Fellowships will be awarded to strong applicants where possible.

Applications close on the 8th of April 2018.

Apply here!


Deploy360 IPv6

RIPE NCC Hackathon Version 6

The RIPE NCC will be holding its sixth Hackathon on 4-5 November 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and by no coincidence at all, will be focusing on IPv6. This will be part of Danish IPv6 Week that’s being hosted by DKNOG and sponsored by Comcast Cable, and which will also have Deploy360 involvement in the shape of our colleague Jan Žorž.

Hackathons are opportunities for network operators, coders and hackers to get together to develop new tools, as well as exchange knowledge and experience with others. Some possible projects for this hackathon include improving IPv6 measurements such as IPv6 RIPEness, improving the IXP Country Jedi tool. that compares traceroutes between IPv4 and IPv6, and developing tools to advance IPv6 deployment.

The RIPE NCC are specifically looking for UX and UI experts including graphic designer, developers familiar with Python, Node.js, Perl and Go, Internet measurement researchers, and network and hosting operators who have experience of deploying IPv6.

If you’re interested in participating, then you need to apply before 10 October 2017.

Travel funding of EUR 500 per person is also available to six participants, with preference given to applicants from “least developed countries”, those working for not-for-profit organisations, and those with previous contributions to free and open-source software and projects. Please note though, the deadline for applicants who require require funding is 9 September 2017.

Further Information

Events Open Internet Standards Shaping the Internet's Future Technology

2017 Hackathon @AIS Report: Consensus and Code

At the 2017 Africa Internet Summit in Nairobi, Kenya (AIS – ) an event to promote the IETF was held in collaboration with AFRINIC to identify skilled engineers who can contribute to the IETF. This is event was dubbed “Hackathon @AIS” and was a 2-day event, from 27-28 May, which covered technical work related to the IETF.

The purpose of the Hackathon was to gather able engineers from Africa to work on challenges based on IETF work and to show them how much of the work at the IETF is produced based on the IETF’s core tenets: rough consensus and running code. The event took place on the 27th and 28th of May 2017.

In this pilot event, participants were drawn from Kenya’s tech community, West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), the UbuntuNET Alliance and the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) to take part in the 2-day activity. Thirty-nine participants from 12 different countries participated in the event.

Expert facilitators were sourced to lead the topics of the event as follows:

  • Fernando Gont: IPv6 Hacking and how to write RFCs
  • Codarren Velvindron: Kernel Hacking and Operating System Compliance to RFCs
  • Joe Abley: CBOR DNS

Pre-Event Preparations

Since the IETF is not well known in the region, some pre-event materials were provided to the participants to give them an introduction to the IETF as well as some reading materials on DNS and Networking so as to ensure that they could be able to handle the work at the Hackathon. The materials were as follows:

  • DNS theory reading from the Internet Society’s Introduction to Network Operations Course
    • Introduction to DNS
    • How Caching DNS servers and Authoritative DNS servers work
  • Networking theory reading from the Internet Society’s Introduction to Network Operations Course
    • Review of IPv4 and IPv6
  • Introduction to the IETF Flier (Prepared by the ARB)
  • Reading on Concise Binary Object Representation and DNS (RFC 7049)
  • Reading on CBOR DNS Draft

How the Hackathon was run

The trainees were split up into 3 groups, each handling 1 of the 3 topics. The 2 days were organized as follows: the 1st day was mostly building the participant’s capacity on the respective topics, and then the participants were given time to work on their respective topics. On the second day, we allowed the participants to work on their respective topics and then got presentations from each of the facilitators and some of the participants on the work they managed to do.

Topic 1: IPv6 Hacking and how to write RFCs

Under this topic, trainees were shown how to use tools to analyze IPv6 traffic and craft specific type of IPv6 packets. The trainees were given a breakdown of RFC 6946 and RFC 8021 and then allowed to test the implementation of those RFCs using the SI6 Networks IPv6 Toolkit. The participants processed IPv6 atomic fragments (RFC 6946) and then attempted to generate IPv6 atomic fragments (RFC 8021).

The trainees who did not have Linux/UNIX laptops were shown how to install an operating system on their Windows machines using VirtualBox since the Si6 Toolkit only works on Linux and UNIX operating systems. As an additional option for the participants, we had a lab of 40 Virtual Machines with the FreeBSD operating system for the trainees to access in the event they needed more testing. Some of the participants in the group successfully used the Toolkit to craft and test the RFC implementation. (Please see the Wiki for more info).

Topic 2: Concise Binary Object Representation and DN

Under this topic, trainees were taken through RFC 7049 and explained what the challenge was regarding finding a standard format of capturing and storing DNS traffic on servers. There is a current draft RFC of this work that trainees were required to read and then test out.

The work flow was as follows:

  1. The resources needed (DNS, coding, management, documentation) were identified
    1. This included downloading CBOR libraries from here:
  2. The selected programming languages for this particular topic were Java and Python. The trainees would then explore and test the CBOR libraries in Java and Python

The participants in this group were further split up into two groups who would try to explore how to work with the available CBOR binaries in either Java or Python programming languages (depending on their preference). Despite successfully loading the CBOR libraries in Java and Python, the participants did not have enough time to fully complete a test of the CBOR storage format against DNS Traffic. Sample DNS Traffic in the form of PCAP (Packet Capture) traffic was provided for them to try for themselves after the event.

Topic 3: Kernel Hacking and Operating System Compliance to RFCs

Under this topic, trainees were taken through how to run a Hackathon as well as getting a UNIX Operating System Compliant with an RFC. The Operating System used here was the FreeBSD operating system and the participants in this group were able to get the operating system compliant with RFC 4213 by making edits to the source code and and recompiling the FreeBSD kernel. The facilitator explained what RFC 4213 was about and then guided them on how to make edits to the FreeBSD source code and recompile the kernel to make the operating system compliant with this specific RFC.

General Topics for all Groups

The following were general topics that were presented by the facilitators for the benefit of all participants:

  • Brief DNS Refresher
  • Brief IPv6 Refresher
  • How to write RFCs (tools that can be used to format the document)
  • How to use GitHub as a development platform to collaborate on code development
  • How to Participate in a Hackathon (Hackathon 101)

Lessons from this first Hackathon

Since this was a first-time event, a lot of lessons have been taken in order to make the next one even more successful:

  • Topics to be covered need to be identified early and participants allowed time to read up on the materials
  • Participants need to be provided with all the materials needed to participate in time including downloading and installing any necessary tools so that more work can be done at the Hackathon.
  • Trainees with appropriate backgrounds need to be selected as such hackathons are all about technical expertise.
  • Facilitators and participants should be allowed to engage early and even join specific groups so that on the day of the hackathon, more time can be spent on tackling a problem rather than gathering background on respective topics. This can be done in a form of “pre-hackathon” activity that goes on via a mailing list on conference calls.
  • Expert facilitation is needed for this particular IETF activity. It is important to identify the right person for each topic that will be covered at the Hackathon and ensure that the facilitator will be available.

Post Hackathon Activities

Following the event, the participants continue to be encouraged to run similar activities in their countries to further increase awareness and participation of engineers to the work of the IETF as well as join some of the IETF’s Working Groups that interest them.

Since this event, one of the participants has actively taken a role in document work being done under the Community Networks initiative to write an RFC on the breakthrough work being done under Wireless for Communities in order to get the protocols being produced to be adopted as IETF RFCs.

Summary of the event

As a first time event, it was a good success and the lessons learnt will be used to inform future activities. The Hackathon has been fully documented and all the tools and presentations used are available on the event website here:

Events IETF Technology

ISOC and AFRINIC Launch Inaugural Hackathon @AIS

The Africa Internet Summit (AIS) is an annual event that brings together network and system engineers from across Africa to learn new skills, which they take back to their work places to improve the Internet experience or connectivity for their local users and their community. The AIS event is in two parts: the first week comprises of technical workshops around different topics like Internet Services and Routing and the second week consists of conference meetings and plenaries discussing issues important to Africa’s tech environment.

A lot of the content at the technical workshop week covers services, standards or best practices defined in documents produced by the IETF.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the standards setting body of the Internet. In a bid to increase awareness on the work and importance of the IETF, ISOC’s Africa Regional Bureau has run a number of activities in Africa over the years including yearly update forums or talks at the Africa Internet Summit.

Participation, awareness and interest in the IETF is increasing in Africa and this year, the Internet Society and AFRINIC are collaborating on a hackathon to demonstrate how much of the work at the IETF is done: through rough consensus and running code.

The Hackathon is titled “Hackathon @AIS” and is the first event of its kind at AIS. The purpose of this hackathon is to gather able engineers from Africa to work on challenges based on IETF work and show them how work at the IETF is produced. In this pilot event, participants have been drawn from Kenya’s tech community, West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), the UbuntuNET Alliance, and the Kenya Education Network Trust (KENET) to take part in the two day activity.

Expert facilitators will lead the two day event which will involve the participants working on solutions or implementations based on published standards or Internet Drafts being discussed at the IETF. The participants are from 12 different countries and following the event, they will be encouraged to run similar activities in their countries to further increase awareness and participation of engineers to the work of the IETF as well as join some of the IETF’s Working Groups that interest them.

The hackathon is also being documented to be shared with others who would wish to conduct similar activities here:

The event takes places on the 27th and 28th of May 2017.

Read more about ISOC at the African Internet Summit.

Deploy360 Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) Events IETF

Join the DNS Security team at the IETF 96 Hackathon this weekend…

IETF 96 Hackathon

If you will be in Berlin, Germany, this weekend and are interested in putting your coding or documentation skills to good use in helping make DNS more secure, please plan to join a group of about 20 of us at the IETF 96 Hackathon who will be working on DNS-related projects. The Hackathon is at the InterContinental Hotel from 9:00am – 9:00pm on Saturday, July 16, and from 9:00am – 6:00pm on Sunday, July 17. (You don’t have to be there the whole time – some people come and go.)

NOTE: you do NOT have to be attending IETF 96 to participate in the Hackathon. It is separate – and free – but you do need to register to attend. We welcome other developers in the Berlin area who want to join us during the weekend.

Details can be found on the IETF 96 Hackathon wiki page.

We have a group of 20+ people who will be working on a variety of DNS, DNSSEC, DPRIVE and DANE projects. There are some projects that could use some additional help (including non-coding help such as documentation and user testing). You are also welcome to bring other projects to the Hackathon.

You can see the list of projects and ideas on the IETF wiki hackathon page – although you need to scroll down to find the DNS section.

The GetDNS crew has a number of projects underway, including TLS interfaces, a Universal Acceptance review and RFC5011 testing. Rick Lamb plans to make BIND work with smartcards without patches. I plan to work on the code behind the weekly DNSSEC deployment maps. I’m sure others will bring some projects, too, by the time it begins.

A good group of “DNS people”  have now done this for the past several IETF meetings. It’s been a great experience and moved a number of DNS-related projects forward.  We would definitely welcome anyone else who wants to join us, even if just for part of the time.  Bring your coding and documentation skills and help make DNS better!

P.S. And of course you can also join in with the many other excellent projects happening at the Hackathon, too, including some great work on TLS implementations.  We here at Deploy360 just happen to be focused on DNS…

Improving Technical Security

Innovations at the edge of the OECD's Ministerial Meeting in Cancun

The week of the OECD’s ministerial meeting has gotten off to a promising start as more than 170 young students from Mexico and the broader region have gathered for the pre-ministerial hackathon, putting into practice the spirit of innovation and collaboration that defines the digital society.

Organized by the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) and sponsored and supported by organizations and members of the Internet Technical Advisory Committee to the OECD ( ITAC), the hackathon is focused on app development centered around 4 themes:

  • Cultural Heritage
  • Smart City
  • Social Inclusion
  • Entrepreneurship

Working throughout the night, the teams will present their apps tomorrow afternoon, pitching their accomplishments before a jury with members from government, business and the technical community. Aside from awards to the winning team in each of the 4 themes, there will also be prizes from the co-sponsoring organizations, such as the award sponsored by IEEE for Value Ethical Design, or the best app addressing “Security in the Smart Home”, sponsored by Intel.

As a hands-on creative micro-cosmo within the ministerial week, the event highlights the vast potential that digital solutions can contribute to address challenges and promote opportunities in the digital society – one of the central pillars in the week’s discussions.

It is also a clear and practical illustration to the policy makers that have gathered here this week of the benefits of an open Internet, where permissionless innovation at the edges of this network of networks is the driving force of economic and social prosperity in the 21st century.

This is a message at the heart of ITAC’s contribution to the meeting this week, and a centerpiece of the Internet’s potential to promote a sustainable development of economic growth that is inclusive of all.

Improving Technical Security Open Internet Standards Technology

Hacking on BGP for Fun and Profit

Of all the many protocols that run over the Internet some are more fundamental than others. Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is one of the more fundamental ones given that it provides the means for networks to announce their connectivity to each other. The Internet is a network of networks and BGP provides the glue that stitches the (approximately) fifty thousand networks that collectively deliver what we think of as the Internet together.

As we mentioned late last year, the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) hosted the inaugural BGP Hackathon at their premises in the University of California San Diego Supercomputer Center this weekend. The two-day event brought together around 90 researchers, practitioners, and students from around the world to develop tools to model, measure, and monitor the routing infrastructure of the Internet. Of the 90 attendees, 50 were competing in teams and 30 of those were graduate students. 33 travel grants were awarded and in addition to the 50 competing participants, there were 25 non-competing domain experts.

The event began with some introductory remarks and level-setting for the participants before the relative anarchy of team formation. Various participants introduced themselves, their expertise, and interest in working on specific challenges. Despite the freeform nature of the proceedings, the group quickly settled down to a manageable number of teams working on a diverse set of challenges and hacking commenced.

Participating teams worked on a variety of challenges, such as:

  • Improving BGP analysis and measurement tools
  • Improving network management tools with OpenConfig
  • Security, including longitudinal study of route validation with RPKI, automated mis-origination detection, and automated countermeasures
  • Visualisation of BGP data including realtime analysis
  • BGP dynamics including interactions between the control plane and data plane, anycast routing, and failover
  • Enhancing BGP daemons with new functionality
  • More realtime functionality for existing tools, e.g. CAIDA ASRank

The teams had an array of tools and data sources available to them during the event, and many of the original developers of these resources were on hand to provide expert guidance to the challenge participants. In addition, San Diego Supercomputer Center made available their COMET supercomputer for teams to use to speed up analysis tasks during their development work.

The Internet Society was one of the sponsors of the hackathon event and served on the Jury that selected four prize-winning teams from the various groups that participated in the event. The winning teams were (in no particular order):

  • Shane Alcock (University of Waikato, NZ) for developing advanced filtering mechanisms for the BGPStream software framework. Shane worked on his own and the results of his efforts will be widely used by the community to select which data a BGPStream application, script, or command-line tool must process.
  • Ricardo Schmidt (University of Twente, NL), Wouter de Vries (University of Twente, NL), Azzam Alsudais (CU Boulder, US), Roya Ensafi (Princeton University, US), and Nick Wolff (OARnet, US) for their work using the PEERING testbed and other tools to observe the impact on control plane and data plane when adding or removing anycast instances. Many content and infrastructure services on the Internet make use of anycast routing to improve service availability and performance. Understanding the dynamics of anycast routing better is an important contribution.
  • Ruwaifa Anwar (Stony Brook University, New York, US), Danilo Cicalese (Telecom ParisTech, FR), Nicolas Vivet (FNISA, FR), Kaname Nishizuka (NTT Communications, JP), Danilo Giordano (Politecnico di Torino, IT), Charles Brock (ICASA/NMT, US), and Bruno Machado (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerias, BR) for their work to automate detection of BGP anomalies. Using data feeds from RIPE RIS and BGPStream, potential anomalies were detected and then correlated with external data to minimise the incidence of false positives.
  • Massimo Candela (RIPE NCC, NL), Maite Gonzalez (NICLabs, Universidad de Chile, CL), Saif Hasan (Facebook, US) and Francesco Benedetto (Roma Tre University, IT) for their work to provide a real-time BGP monitoring service using BGPlay and output from BGPStream.

Selecting these winners wasn’t easy as all teams produced very exciting and interesting results especially when considering that many of the collaborators were new faces and the tools were new in many cases as well. The utility of USC’s PEERING testbed was greatly enhanced during the weekend and many of the challenge teams made productive use of the facility. The long-term goal of the testbed is to enable on-demand, safe, and controlled access to the Internet routing ecosystem for researchers and educators and USC plan to continue making further enhancements now that it has proved to be such a valuable resource. Other platforms made available to participants during the hackathon, e.g. BGPStream and BGPMon, also saw significant improvements during the weeks preceding (and during) the hackathon. 

In conclusion, this event was a great example of how careful planning and detailed organisation can yield excellent results. The participants all learned a great deal during the two days and came away with a much better understanding of the breadth of BGP-related research, the tools and data sources available to them, and most importantly a new set of colleagues and mentors to help them carry on their work. Here’s to the next one!

P.S. If you are interested in BGP and routing security in particular, you may also want to check out the Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) initiative.

Photo Credit: iStock