Course Description

This course will cover a wide range of topics in the area of Systems Security. A computer system is composed by software, hardware, policies, and practices. Systems security involves both designing and building secure systems, as well as improving and evaluating the security of existing systems. This course is giving a particular emphasis into providing hands-on experience to students through building, attacking, and securing systems. The class is programming intensive. Those who take the class should be skilled programmers and should have some experience with the C programming language and programming on a Linux environment. It is recommended that students are also familiar with the assembly language and with network and operating system basics.


The course requires good programming skills (C, C++), including some knowledge of x86 assembly. Also, a basic background in operating systems (mainly UNIX) and networking.

Course prereqs: (Graduate students) CS-631Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment or (Undergraduate students) CS-306 Introduction to IT Security and CS-392 Systems Programming

Course materials

Textbooks (optional):

  • Computer Security: Principles and Practice, 3/E, William Stallings, Lawrie Brown ISBN-10: 0133773922 • ISBN-13: 9780133773927
  • Security Engineering 2nd Edition by Ross Anderson

Textbooks (recommended):

  • The Shellcoder's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes, 2nd Edition, Chris Anley, John Heasman, Felix Lindner, Gerardo Richarte, ISBN: 978-0-470-08023-8

Other materials (required):

  • Slides used in lectures and papers referenced in them


Your final grade will be determined by your performance in the following:

Quizzes 10%
Homework 50%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%

Course Schedule