2020 ISIF Asia Grant recipients announced

ISIF Asia has awarded USD 120,000 to four organizations to support network operations research and development for the benefit of the region.

2020 Internet Operations Research Grant Recipients

Four grants of USD 30,000 each were allocated to four research and development projects focused on the availability, reliability, and security of the Internet, with a particular focus on practical solutions around operational stability and security. The 2020 ISIF Asia Grant Recipients and the main focus of their projects are:

Open Lawful Intercept for Asia Pacific. University of Waikato. New Zealand. To support further development and expand adoption in the Asia Pacific of OpenLI, the only open source software capable of meeting the ETSI standards for lawful interception.

IPv6 Deployment at Enterprises. IIESoc. India. To work collaboratively with a nonprofit industry consortium in the United States, Industry Network Technology Council (INTC), to address the issue of IPv6 adoption at large brick-and-mortar enterprises in the APAC region.

Collaborative Honeynet Threat Sharing Platform. Swiss German University (SGU), Badan Siber & Sandi Negara (BSSN) and Indonesia Honeynet Project (IHP). Indonesia.
This project aims to extend the design of the existing Honeynet Threat Sharing Platform to provide a broader range of honeypot support, a more complete threat database and threat correlation to allow organizations to easily share information with each other in a consistent format in ASEAN economies.

Experiment and improve reinforcement learning algorithms to enhance anomalous network behaviour detection. TeleMARS Pty Ltd. Australia. To research various machine learning algorithms that may effectively monitor, analyze, and detect anomalous traffic at devices connections, and/or anomalous traffic at routers/links. This project will investigate how reinforcement learning algorithms such as GANs would perform against other machine learning algorithms such as classification, statistical and deep learning algorithms.

The APNIC Foundation and ISIF Asia thanks all applicants for sharing their ideas, the Selection Committee members for their hard work, and APNIC for their generous funding contributions for 2020.

Report Available! Honeynet Threat Sharing Platform

This project, led by Charles Lim from the Swiss German University in Indonesia, in collaboration with Indonesia Honeynet Project and Badan Siber dan Sandi Negara.

With the continuous rise of cyber security threats, monitoring security potential threats and attacks become essential to plan for cyber defense. Honeypot, a decoy system designed to lure attackers, has been used to track and learn attacker’s behavior. Collecting attacker’s interactions with honeypot at different location inside different organization’s premises provide useful and more complete picture of the landscape of current cyber security threats. The log of the attacks to the honeypots become an essential cyber security threat information that could be shared to many of the security incident analyst at different organization to provide a relevant and contextual threat intelligence.

The objective of this research was to provide a sharing platform for any organizations in Indonesia (later can be applied to ASEAN and/or Asia Pacific countries) to share security threats information collected using honeypots in the relevant organization in the related countries to other organizations in Asia Pacific. To start with, the research began to develop and share the security threat information collected from different provinces to all related organizations in Indonesia.

The project is open to any researchers (men or women) who is interested to help building better security posture in their respected countries or any Asia Pacific countries. This is the first time we combine research effort between government, education institution and cyber security community to build a security threat information platform. The completed project is expected to bring significant contributions to raise not only the participation of security threat information contribution but also the overall potential security posture of the Internet in Asia Pacific.

The final technical report is available for review here.

Report available! Connecting the Unserved – Bhutan’s First Trial with TV White Spaces

This project, led by Tshering Norbu from NANO, conducted Bhutan’s first trial with emerging TV White Space (TVWS) technology to deliver broadband Internet access to the unserved areas and determine its appropriateness or not in Bhutan where the terrains are mountainous, thickly forested and rugged, and where building wired network infrastructures is technically and commercially challenging.

NANO is one of the only three fully-fledged (Tier-1 category by Bhutan’s standard) ISPs in Bhutan licensed to establish international connectivity and cover nationwide. They own an independent international gateway, international connectivity and domestic networks built on the backbone of latest DWDM and fiber technologies including access networks which are completely on fiber. A young entrepreneurial startup founded by the top-notch management and technical team that brought Internet and telecommunications (specifically FTTx services) development in Bhutan. As of today, they operate only in three major cities in Bhutan with a focus on providing services to the selected segment of the corporate and enterprise customers.

The project implementation timeline was initially scheduled for 8 months – set to start from around 3rd week of October 2018 and complete by June 2019. TVWS was completely new to us being in its early stage of an emerging technology. We researched and studied including case studies of its deployments, and identified potential Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) who were also limited in number. We shortlisted and evaluated three TVWS manufacturers: Carlson Wireless Technologies (US), Runcom Communications (Israel) and Saankhya labs (India). We chose Carlson Wireless. When we were finalizing Bill of Materials after a long design discussion and negotiation with them, we learnt they had long lead time, delay and some cases of even failing to manufacture/supply. That put huge dent to our implementation time. We did not risk and had to switched to another OEM, Redline Communications (Canada) – who carried good recommendation on their company’s credibility and technology performance. Then playing order to Redline who manufactured and supplied/delivered based only on the order consumed several months. We could complete installation of the final site of the total five deployments in March 2020. The entirely in all activities extended our project implementation timeline to 16 months.

Major activities included: field survey of two base stations and selecting only one, seven client sites survey and selecting only five; study, evaluation and selection of TVWS OEM; ordering and supply/delivery of equipment; making sites readiness; actual installation, implementation and commissioning of networks – for provisioning Internet; providing support assistance and monitoring of network performances for evaluation.

The final report is available to review here.

Report available! Establishment of a Carrier Neutral Software-Defined IXP

The project led by Zartash Afzal Uzmi, from the SBA School of Science and Engineering at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) finalized their project and submitted their technical report.

Internet exchange points (IXP) are a critical piece of the Internet infrastructure that enable ISP networks to exchange traffic with each other. The Internet has more than 300 IXPs worldwide. IXPs offer a number of benefits including cost savings, better performance, and security. Traditional IXPs do not leverage the modern networking evolution offered by Software-Defined Networking (SDN).

This project aims to develop and deploy a Software-Defined IXP (SDX), using recent advances in SDN to allow operators to enable novel applications such as application-specific peering, traffic redirection through middleboxes, and inbound traffic engineering. We have already created a working prototype of SDX, comprising a route server (Quagga Application), Two (2) ISPs (2 PCs with Quagga BGP configurations), Aruba Openflow switch and Ryu Controller. Two novel peering applications have also been implemented on this SDN-based IXP.

To support the management and configuration of novel peering applications, we have developed a new package to SDN-enable the “IXP Manager” which is a web-based peering portal used by 79 traditional, non-SDN based, IXPs worldwide. Our package integrates with an open-source version of a traditional IXP Manager and allows configuring SDN-based applications through the peering web portal. This retrofitted IXP Manager will not only be useful for upcoming SDN-based IXPs, particularly in developing countries, but will also be useful for the existing IXPs worldwide as they introduce SDN capabilities within their infrastructure.

While the development work of the project has been completed, we will continue exploring avenues for large-scale deployment. As a first step in this direction, this project centered on Pakistan IXP; a future goal will be to use it as a testbed for full-scale deployment, testing, and evaluation. We will also continue to carry out training programs to prepare additional human resource in managing IXPs as well as in using SDN controllers. An additional future direction stemming from this project is to build a sustainable basis of discussion, collaboration, and training programs between least developed countries around SDN, IXPs, and other emerging technologies.

The establishment of an SDN-based IXP stands to bring down operating costs of IXPs via automatic configuration management and dynamic policy assignment. The SDN-based IXP platform developed in this project will also uncover the empirical data highlighting the benefits of IXP, particularly in the developing world, by measuring the inter-ISP traffic volumes. We further aim (as a future goal) to study the traffic types to estimate the growth in content hosted locally, or moved over from international to local hosting. Our project will eventually be useful for persuading popular large-volume publishers (Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, etc.) and content distribution networks (CDNs) to establish their local presence within the country and peer at the IXPs in Pakistan. This project will further allow the Pakistan IXP team to right size the future IXPs (in Karachi and Lahore) and scale the one in Islamabad. The knowledge of “where” the traffic is destined and downloaded from “outside the country” will motivate additional local and international cloud service providers to get interested in hosting their platforms within the region.

The report is publicly available.

Report available! A novel graph analytics theory model to mitigate IoT botnets attacks for big data

The project led by Raihana Syahirah Abdullah, from the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication at the Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) finalized their project and submitted their technical report.

The research focused on getting the parameter from raw infection codes using a reverse engineering approach as well as addressing the behaviours of IoT botnets. The main objective of the research was to develop a new model in detecting IoT botnets using graph analytics theory model with analysing the selection of influence feature factor. The output of this research is a scheme that is able to remove and quarantine the suspicious codes as well as able to detect the behaviour changes in the IoT devices. The model also can be used as a security tool to discover the real behaviors of IoT botnets from the raw infection codes that exists in particular IoT devices and machines.

The report is publicly available.

Report available! NextGen Girls – Internet Security Ambassadors Project

The NextGen Girls initiative included creating an IoT and Security Curriculum including Internet governance, Privacy, IPV6, IoT, Networking, Information Security and open web technologies and training 40 female University students to become Internet Security Educators. They in turn, trained 160 of their peers, and make awareness to 800 high school girls in IoT safety. The training was delivered through 8 workshops at 4 universities, 24 live online training sessions, 2 meetups and an IoT hackathon among girls.

The main outcome of the NextGen Girls project is the development of a sustainable network of women specializing in IoT and security, advocating IoT safety and enable support for victims while increasing women participation in IoT and Security field. In the long term, the NextGen Girls community will support women to show leadership in the emerging IoT industry, increase safety and advancement of women.

Shilpa Sayura partners, AlgoHack community, Google education, Computer Society and ISOC Sri Lanka worked together to implement NextGen Girls initiative.

NextGen Girls aims to scale up the project “Respect Girls on Internet” which was awarded the ISOC 25 Under 25 Award and received an ISOC Beyond The Net Community Grant. The project developed a network of university and high school girls studying ICT. The goal of the project is to support young women professional development to pursue emerging IoT security careers, that in turn will help build safer and secure IoT environment at homes, workplaces and communities.


The emergence of pocket-sized computing devices, capable of electronic switching, sensing, controlling equipment, video, and audio has created a new paradigm shift in home automation, business, agriculture, transport, environmental technologies. IoT systems use internet to interconnect. Unsecure home uses of IoT can endanger safety and breach privacy of individuals and families. Women are particularly vulnerable as IoT misuse has facilitated revenge porn incidents, harassment, data breach, as well as scams. Online safety activitists recommend that women seek suppor from other women in the event of IoT breach, as seeking support from a male technician can pose additional risks. The project proposed approach is to develop IoT and security skills among women to safeguard their homes, workplaces, and community from IoT breaches. Women becoming IoT security experts immensely contributes to gender equality, diversity, and growth in female participation in the IoT economy.

The report is publicly available.

Report available! A peering strategy for the Pacific Islands

Many telecommunications networks in the Pacific interconnect not directly but via international carriers in the United States or Australia. This has a profound impact on both the cost and the performance of regional traffic. While web traffic is slowed, real-time collaborations are rendered unusable, creating barriers for inter-island collaboration.

Governments, competitive carriers, Internet societies, and activists argue that direct interconnection, or peering, is the answer to these performance problems. They believe that if competitive networks are allowed to exchange traffic free-of-charge with incumbent networks, the cost of Internet will go down, and performance will go up.

Incumbent networks throughout the Pacific steadfastly refuse to openly peer with other carriers, education networks, and government networks – and a change in this behaviour is not in sight. Not only do they refuse to peer, they sometimes charge their competitors more for direct access to their networks than competitors pay for global Internet connectivity. Competitors, activists, and even governments say this is a clear violation of network neutrality. This project investigating carrier interconnections in the Pacific has shown the situation to be far more nuanced.

This project’s objective was to share research collected during an earlier iteration of the project via the web in a dynamic way. This included information on physical and routed topologies, telecommunications market data, and information on the relationships Pacific Island nations have with the rest of the world.

In support of these objectives, the project has produced a website that reviews the telecommunications environment of the Pacific Islands. The site looks at each market’s connectivity to the world: telecommunications, sea freight, air routes, and trade. It provides real-time statistics on carrier market share. Finally, it considers the complexity of island telecommunications through a composite case study on peering.

The report is publicly available.

Report available! RPKI Monitor and Visualizer for Detecting and Alerting for RPKI Errors

Dr. Di Ma from the Internet DNS Beijing Engineering Research Center (ZDNS) has completed the report for one of the grants that was allocated in 2018 for implementation in 2019, titled “RPKI Monitor and Visualizer for Detecting and Alerting for RPKI Errors”.

This project implements an RPKI security mechanism that detects and counters adverse actions in the RPKI, which helps mitigate risks to global routing system. The mechanism is implemented by two components: the monitor, which detects erroneous or malicious RPKI changes, and the visualizer, which displays graphically the validation process passed to it by the validator and the alert information issued by the monitor.

The project achieved the following objectives:

  • Develop an RPKI Monitor to detect RPKI problems due to mistakes by or attacks against CAs and repositories, and generate alerts to the affected parties to remedy the problems. It also provides suggestions to guide RPs in deciding whether to accept or defer accepting those changes.
  • Develop an RPKI Visualizer to display graphically the validation process and involved RPKI data passed to it by the validator and the alert information issued by the Monitor.

The report is publicly available.

Report available! Scalable Traffic Classification in Internet of Things (IoT) for Network Anomaly Detection

Prof. Winston Seah from the School of Engineering and Computer Science at the Victoria University of Wellington has completed the report for one of the grants that was allocated in 2017 for implementation in 2018, titled “Scalable Traffic Classification in Internet of Things (IoT) for Network Anomaly Detection”.

The project focused on accurate traffic classification in the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT comprises large numbers of heterogeneous simple devices running single applications, often with little to no security features making them easily compromised and used as tools in cyberattacks. As we become more connected and reliant on the Internet, any form of disruption in connectivity due network anomalies can result in adverse consequences, ranging from loss of productivity and revenue, to destruction of critical infrastructure and loss of life. In the last decade, cyberattacks have increased at an alarming rate, even just based on the reported incidents. We need to be able to classify new traffic types coming from IoT devices accurately and promptly, so that anomalous traffic can be identified and dealt with quickly.

Payload-based (PB) techniques although can reach high accuracy, but suffers from several limitations. The limitations of PB classification are expected to be addressed by statistical-based (SB) techniques. SB approaches are based on flow features and the traffic is classified using Machine Learning algorithms (MLAs). SB classification assumes that specific flow-level features such as flow duration, inter-arrival time, transmitted bytes, packet length and packet size can distinguish different types of traffic flows. We studied how unsupervised machine learning can be applied to network anomaly detection in the dynamic IoT environment where previously unencountered traffic types and patterns are regularly emerging and need to be identified and classified. This project involves the study and selection of appropriate MLAs (to be implemented as a proof-of-concept prototype) and identification of those flow features which have the highest impact on the traffic classification accuracy. This project contributes to making safer cyber-physical systems that are an integral component of the IoT.

The report is publicly available.

Report available! Software Defined Networks based Security Architecture for IoT Infrastructures

Prof. Vijay Varadharajan from the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at The University of Newcastle has completed the report for one of the grants that was allocated for implementation in 2018, titled “Software Defined Networks based Security Architecture for IoT Infrastructures”.

The project developed fine granular security policies and a lightweight security protocol to authenticate IoT devices and authorise them to access services in network infrastructure in a secure manner. The project involved three stages:

  • In the first stage, the project team conducted a detailed study of security attacks on IoT infrastructures and the different security solutions that currently exist to counteract the various types of attacks. Then, analysed the pros and cons of the existing solutions, and developed security requirements that need to be addressed in designing security architecture for IoT Applications.
  • As part of second stage, the team developed a lightweight authentication protocol based on a novel public key encryption scheme. The proposed protocol achieved a balance between the efficiency and communication cost without sacrificing security.
  • In the third stage, the team proposed a SDN based security architecture for IoT systems. Their security architecture allowed specification of fine granular access policy constraints on communications between end users, devices and services in a distributed environment. A novel feature of the proposed architecture is its ability to specify path based security policies, which is a distinct advantage in SDNs.

The report is publicly available here:

https://isif.asia/software-defined-networks-based-security-architecture-for-iot-infrastructures/