Category: intern

The Security Internship

The-Internship-2013-movie-posterNote from Andrew Hay: This is a post written by OpenDNS Security Labs interns Kevin Bottomley and Skyler Hawthorne on their experiences working at OpenDNS.

Although neither of us have been working at OpenDNS for very long, the experience thus far has been very rewarding. We work at a company that serves as a gateway to the Internet for 50 million users daily that allows us to bring in our ideas and concepts, and implement them into the OpenDNS infrastructure.


The culture is alive and vibrant at OpenDNS. OpenDNS regularly hosts fun events, such as: hackathons; OpenLate meetups, where anyone can come to code in the OpenDNS basement late at night, and collaborate on cool projects; ToastMasters, which helps people practice and learn about public speaking; company sponsored sports outings; and yoga three times a week, on the roof.

Every Friday, the company has a “Town Hall” meeting in which our CEO, David Ulevitch, speaks to everyone about the company’s health and current events. The whole company is very lively at these meetings. Whenever there are new employees (which has been pretty often lately, as we are growing rapidly), a portion of the meeting is dedicated to the “Fresh Meat,” who stand up in front of the entire company and tell everyone three fun facts about themselves.

These all make for a fantastic work environment.


Being an Intern on the OpenDNS Security Labs team comes along with some pretty cool benefits that you might not find at other startups. Lunches are catered three times a week, with Mondays and Fridays being from a different restaurant, and Wednesdays coming from a rotation of local food trucks. The fairs on these menus can range anywhere from pizza and pasta to pita and hummus. There is also the ever popular Waffle Wednesday where our Office Manager Adrian Rodriguez serves up homemade waffles with all the fixings to go along with them.

To compliment this, OpenDNS keeps two kitchens fully stocked from floor to ceiling with just about any snack and drink one could possibly want. Whether it be fresh fruit, artisan bread, or beef jerky, it’s there, and if it is not, all one has to do is ask and it will be soon.

While working here, you don’t have to feel confined to one location to get some work done. The office, a very spacious two story building that is in the midst of expansion, has numerous places where you can sit back and relax, whether it be the overly comfortable couches at either end of the building, or up on the rooftop to get some air with a pretty good view from it’s location in the heart of San Francisco’s SoMA neighborhood.

One of the best benefits would have to be that you are surrounded by highly intelligent peers on a daily basis. The backgrounds of the employees here go far and wide, from Ph.Ds in Graph Theory, to published authors of technical books. Hands-on experience is one of the best ways to gain knowledge, and you definitely get plenty of that at OpenDNS, with some great mentors to look up to and be inspired by constantly.

Cool Projects

Being at a small startup allows us the chance to wear many different hats, as Kevin would say. We’ve had the chance to work on many cool projects. Several of the projects have involved the OpenDNS Security Graph, which is a very large database of all IP addresses, domain names, ASNs, and their associated co-occurrences, internal security scores, etc. One project in particular was to add different sources of information about the domains being queried. Another involved writing APIs for the Security Graph in different programming and scripting languages.

Other projects have involved creating tools to automate the white and black listings of domains deemed to be either malicious or not to the internal servers, writing web scrapers to gather information to be analyzed so it can be added to our preemptive threat datasets, as well as document parsers to so that we can cover as much area as it takes to stay out in front of potentially harmful domains, ips, and urls.

Overall, these projects have been very fascinating and educational. We have learned a lot about internet security, and how OpenDNS manages to protect all of its users from malicious hosts. Most importantly, a benefit of working for a startup is that our contributions actually feel meaningful to the company. We look forward to our days ahead at OpenDNS, and all of the exciting projects they have planned for us.

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