Home > Teaching > CS 628: Computer Systems Security

CS 628: Computer Systems Security

Credits:   3-0-0-0- [9]

Instructor: Prof. Angshuman Karmakar


The course requires sufficient programming knowledge, system knowledge, and immense interest in understanding cyber security and cyber defense. So please decide whether you would like to consider this.


 Major, Measurable Learning Objectives

Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Discover software bugs that pose cyber security threats, explain and recreate exploits of such bugs in realizing a cyber attack on such software, and explain how to fix the bugs to mitigate such threats
  2. Discover cyber attack scenarios to web browsers, and web servers, explain various possible exploits, recreate cyber attacks on browsers, and servers with existing bugs, and explain how to mitigate such threats 
  3. Discover and explain cyber security holes in standard networking protocols, both in network architecture, standard protocols (such as TCP/IP, ARP, DNS, Ethernet, BGP etc), explain mitigation methods and revisions of standards based on cyber threats.
  4. Discover and explain mobile software bugs posing cyber security threats, explain and recreate exploits, and explain mitigation  techniques.
  5. Articulate the urgent need for cyber security in critical computer systems, networks, and world wide web, and explain various threat scenarios
  6. Articulate the well known cyber attack incidents, explain the attack scenarios, and explain mitigation techniques
  7. Explain the difference between Systems Cyber Security, Network Cyber Security, and cryptography, crypto-protocols etc.
  8. Articulate the cyber threats to critical infrastructures
Prerequisites and Co-requisites

Prerequisites for this course is a very strong programming background with knowledge of program run-time environment, usage of debuggers, and knowledge of shared libraries or dynamically linked libraries. Some knowledge of x86 assembly language or similar assembly language will be assumed. Some knowledge of Operating Systems especially memory management, virtual memory etc will be assumed. We will also assume that the student knows basic network protocols such as TCP/IP, DNS, routing etc. We will further assume  that the student is familiar with a client/server architecture of the world wide web -- where browser is a client to a web server. Further, prior knowledge of a scripting language such as shell scripting, perl, python and/or Ruby will be beneficial. Knowledge of Javascript, PHP or other web programming might be very useful.  Prior familiarity with preliminaries of cyber security would be helpful but not required.  


A quiz will be administered in the very first class in the beginning. The quiz will help you determine your standing with respect to above mentioned prior knowledge. 


Texts and Special Teaching Aids

There is no specific text. We will provide all material via moodle. When the class moodle website will be up, each student should immediately register him/herself for this class on moodle. Most communications, assignments, course material will be only available via moodle. So it is extremely important that all students must be on the course moodle site. 


 Here is a tentative outline for the course -- but this is not set in stone. Some topics may be excluded, and some other topics may be included depending on the progress of the course. 


Section 1: Software and System Security [30%]

1.       Control hijacking attacks – buffer overflow, integer overflow, bypassing browser memory protection

2.       Sandboxing and Isolation

3.       Tools and techniques for writing robust application software

4.       Security vulnerability detection tools, and techniques – program analysis (static, concolic and dynamic analysis)

5.       Privilege, access control, and Operating System Security

6.       Exploitation techniques, and Fuzzing


Section 2: Network Security & Web Security [40%]

1.       Security Issues in TCP/IP – TCP, DNS, Routing (Topics such as basic problems of security in TCP/IP,,  IPsec, BGP Security, DNS Cache poisoning etc)

2.       Network Defense tools – Firewalls, Intrusion Detection, Filtering

3.       DNSSec, NSec3, Distributed Firewalls, Intrusion Detection tools

4.       Threat Models, Denial of Service Attacks, DOS-proof network architecture

5.       Security architecture of World Wide Web, Security Architecture of Web Servers, and Web Clients

6.       Web Application Security – Cross Site Scripting Attacks, Cross Site Request Forgery, SQL Injection Attacks

7.       Content Security Policies (CSP) in web

8.       Session Management and User Authentication, Session Integrity

9.       Https, SSL/TLS

10.   Threat Modeling, Attack Surfaces, and other comprehensive approaches to network design for security


Section 3: Security in Mobile Platforms [15%]

1.       Android vs. ioS security model, threat models, information tracking, rootkits

2.       Threats in mobile applications, analyzer for mobile apps to discover security vulnerabilities

3.       Viruses, spywares, and keyloggers and malware detection


Section 4: Introduction to Hardware Security, Supply Chain Security  [5%]

1.       Threats of Hardware Trojans and Supply Chain Security

2.       Side Channel Analysis based Threats, and attacks


Section 5: Issues in Critical Infrastructure and SCADA Security [10%]

1.       Security issues in SCADA

2.       IP Convergence Cyber Physical System Security threats

3.       Threat models in SCADA and various protection approaches

4.       Machine learning and SCADA Security


Semester grades will be based on the following weights:

Attendance & In-Class Exercises 20% (including pop quizzes)
Projects & Assignments 60% (10% each for 6 assignments and projects)
Midterm Exam 10%  
Final Exam 10%  







Semester grades will be determined after all work is completed and graded.  Point ranges for letter grades will be based on a several factors, including absolute and relative performance.  Letter grades will not be based on a fixed, predetermined curve or point range.    


Unless otherwise stated on the class all graded assignments must be submitted by 11:55 pm   on the specified due date.  There will be a 10% penalty for each 24 hour delay in submitting an assignment.   


If you feel that an error is made in grading an assignment or an exam, you must present a written appeal within one week after the assignment or exam is returned to you.  Verbal appeals are not allowed and grades will not be changed after the one week period.  Your appeal should be specific.  Submit all appeals to the instructor.