Network Security Fall 2023

Network Security explores practical elements of securing networked systems and services. The course goals are the following:

  • Provide a solid understanding of the design and analysis of network security architectures, protocols, and services
  • Provide an in-depth examination of contemporary network security standards and their limitations
  • Provide hands-on experience in attacking and defending network services

Topics covered by this course include:

  • Security foundations
  • Low-level network attacks
  • Wireless security
  • Naming and routing
  • Privacy and anonymity
  • Web security
  • Cloud applications
  • Network service vulnerabilities
  • Malicious campaigns and exploitation


  • Class is held Tuesdays and Fridays 9:50–11:30 in EXP 204
  • Office hours are Tuesdays 15:00–16:00 and Fridays 12:00–13:00 in ISEC 609
  • TA hours are Wednesdays 11:50–12:50 in INV 016


Grades will be assigned based on the completion of assignments, labs, and in-class participation. Final grades may be subject to a curve.

Assignments will consist of programming problems. Students will have ~1-2 weeks to complete each assignment. Assignments will be completed in groups of ~4. Late assignments will be accepted, with the caveat that grading will be penalized by a full letter grade for each 24-hour period following the submission deadline that an assignment is late. Re-grades of assignments may be permitted, with an associated penalty. The assignment with the lowest score will be dropped from the final grade calculation.

Labs will be completed in class in the same groups as for assignments. The lab with the lowest score will be dropped from the final grade calculation.

Groups will be rotated periodically, and individual scores will be weighted by peer assessments.

Component Contribution
Assignments 60%
Labs 35%
Participation 5%


This course requires programming maturity, and a solid background in computer networking. You can expect that the assignments will involve non-trivial programming, in some cases using low-level OS or library APIs. Moreover, you must have passed a networking course covering design concepts and programming APIs for IP, TCP, and UDP, at a minimum. It is very difficult for most students to learn networking concepts on the fly and simultaneously pass this class. If you don’t satisfy this prerequisite, you should only take this class after you have done so.

In addition, practical familiarity with the following or the ability to refer to other references and documentation for the following is also required:

  • Programming languages: Shell scripting (Bash), a systems language (C, C++, Rust), a scripting language (Python, Ruby), JavaScript
  • Container stacks (OCI, Docker)

If you aren’t familiar with these technologies or are uncomfortable referring to available documentation on your own, you will likely have significant difficulty with this course.

As a concrete example for calibration purposes: If asked to write a TCP client that connects to a remote endpoint and engages in a simple binary proof-of-work protocol from a grammar-based specification, this should take on the order of a couple of hours rather than a week.


Cheating. Work submitted for grading must represent your own effort. Group work is not allowed unless specifically stated otherwise. Similarly, use of third-party content (for code, whether as a library, service, or in source form) is only permissible in the context of the allowances explicitly made as part of a problem statement. “Use” in this context refers not only to copying in the cut-and-paste sense, but any content derived from third-party work. A non-exhaustive list of plagiarism examples include:

  • Copying third-party code verbatim that was published in an online source code repository, forum, or other reference site such as GitHub, GitLab, Stack Overflow, Wikipedia, or similar
  • Adapting an algorithm found in third-party code published online
  • Collaborating on code with other students, such as adapting code written by another student or working together on a shared code base at any point

While referring to third-party code can be helpful in devising your own solution, it is also extremely dangerous as it is all too easy to plagiarize without realizing it. (It is for exactly this reason that viewing source code published online that may be relevant to a product is almost always strictly forbidden in corporate settings due to intellectual property concerns.) While discussing course material with other students is encouraged, it is strongly recommended that students refrain from viewing any third-party source code.

Cheating damages the reputation of the university as well as the grades of students who participate in the course in good faith. As such, there will be zero tolerance for cheating in this course. Students that participate in this course must acknowledge that they have read and understood the University Academic Integrity Policy. All cheating cases will be brought to the CCIS Academic Integrity Committee and to OSCCR on the first offense. Finally, all students found to be cheating will receive a failing grade on the first offense.

Reference Material. There is no official textbook for this course. Instead, we will rely on lectures and readings. If you need to brush up on background material on algorithms, architecture, systems, or networks, strongly reconsider whether you satisfy the course prerequisites.

Due to the fast pace of the field, much information is only available online and thus referring to third-party online sources is encouraged. However, keep in mind that referring to third-party source code is permissible only within the constraints of the class and university academic integrity policies.

Online Discussion. Online discussion and questions relevant to the course will be handled through Canvas. For private questions only, feel free to contact me via email. A best effort attempt will be made to respond to messages within 24 hours on weekdays during normal working hours. To ensure a timely response, do not wait to ask questions until the night before a submission deadline.

Ethics. This course covers sensitive material that includes information on how to exploit vulnerable software. Attack-oriented work must be restricted to the computing resources provided. Alternatively, students can perform this work using personal resources so long as other computing resources are not affected.

In particular, attacks performed against University resources or the open Internet are expressly prohibited. Students should also be familiar with the University Appropriate Use policy.


Note: This schedule is preliminary and subject to change
Date Module Topic
Fri Sep 08 Introduction Course Overview and Security Fundamentals
Tue Sep 12 Link, Network, and Transport Layers Link and IP Layer Attacks
Fri Sep 15 Link, Network, and Transport Layers TCP Attacks
Tue Sep 19 Link, Network, and Transport Layers Signature Detection
Fri Sep 22 Link, Network, and Transport Layers Anomaly Detection
Tue Sep 26 Authentication Passwords
Fri Sep 29 Authentication Remote Authentication
Tue Oct 03 Core Internet Services The Domain Name System
Fri Oct 06 Core Internet Services DNSSEC
Tue Oct 10 Core Internet Services Border Gateway Protocol
Fri Oct 13 Core Internet Services BGP Attacks
Tue Oct 17 Transport Layer Security TLS and PKI
Fri Oct 20 Transport Layer Security TLS and PKI
Tue Oct 24 Anonymity Onion Routing
Fri Oct 27 Anonymity Censorship
Tue Oct 31 Web Security The Web Security Model
Fri Nov 03 Web Security XSS, CSRF, SQL Injection
Tue Nov 07 Web Security Revisiting the Same-Origin Policy
Fri Nov 10 Veterans Day
Tue Nov 14 Web Security Revisiting the Same-Origin Policy
Fri Nov 17 Vulnerabilities Spatial Memory Corruption
Tue Nov 21 Vulnerabilities Temporal Memory Corruption
Fri Nov 24 Fall Break
Tue Nov 28 Vulnerabilities Fuzz Testing
Fri Dec 01 Exploitation Reconnaissance, Initial Access, Persistence
Tue Dec 05 Exploitation C2, Lateral Movement, Exfiltration
Fri Dec 08 Exploitation Behavioral Sandboxes (Graduate Only)