CSCE 465: Computer and Network Security

Fall 2020

Instructor:          Dr. Guofei Gu (guofei AT

Lectures:             TR 11:30 am - 12:45 pm, Online (check out Zoom meeting link and Google classroom link at Howdy syllabus)

Office Hour:        3-5pm Thursday or by appointment, Online (the same link as class; Check Howdy syllabus)

TA:                       Amala Babu (amala1995 AT

TA Office Hour11am-12pm Wednesday and 3:30-4:30pm Thursday, or by appointment; Online

Grader:                Anna Shekhawat  (annashekhawat AT

Course Description

Contents: Fundamental concepts and principles of computer security, operating system and network security, malware, firewalls and intrusion detection systems, secret key and public key cryptographic algorithms, hash functions, authentication, Web and application security. 

The objective of this course is to provide students with a general understanding of fundamental concepts and principles of computer and network security. In support of this, the course will prepare students to do basic system-, network-, and application-level programming/labs related to security purpose.

By the end of this course, students will be able to reason about systems from the perspective of a security engineer. That is, they should be able to define the system to protect; determine the security properties that are desired for this system; identify the possible threats to these security properties, and their likelihood of occurrence; and consider possible mitigations against these threats.

Prerequisites: CSCE 313; Junior or Senior standing; or approval of instructor. 

Required textbooks: 

Reference textbooks:


Grading:     Assignments 60%, Final exam 35%, Course participation 5%. (There will be bonus points in some assignments)
Grade scale:     90-100 = A. 80-89 = B. 70-79 = C. 60-69 = D. Below 60 = F

Assignments:    Six homework assignments, each including paper-and-pencil questions and/or programming/lab problems. These are individual assignments, no teams.

Honors Project: If you are in CSCE 465 honors section, you have to take this option. If you are in normal sections, it is optional. You can choose to form a team (up to 2 members) to do an honors project, in which you design/implement/evaluate some useful and new attack/defense/system/tool/service/user study, etc. If you take this option, you do not need to do the last homework and do not need to take the final exam! There will be also bonus points for excellent project. Talk to me asap if you want to take the option.

All assignments will be distributed and submitted through Please submit your assignment (e.g., program/report) in a single zip or tar ball. Please double check your submission to make sure it is complete and correct. All late submissions will automatically lose 20% points per delayed day. After grades distributed/returned, there is 1 week time limit to notify the instructor of any questions or concerns in the grading.

Attendance / Make-up Work Policies

The University views class attendance as the responsibility of an individual student. Attendance is essential to complete the course successfully. University rules related to excused and unexcused absences are located on-line at If you have a conflict with a scheduled exam, please contact the professor as soon as possible, but no later than one week in advance to schedule a make-up. If your conflict is unforeseen (e.g. sudden hospitalization), please contact the professor as soon as possible to arrange a make-up. Please provide your professor with documentation for excused absences.

For online Zoom class, live and in-class attendance is mandatory, unless you have good reason not to attend ( During the class, please turn on your webcam as you can to make everyone more engaged (feel more like a physical class environment).

Ethics & Academic Integrity Statement and Policy

We will study/discuss threats and attacks in the class/lab. You should be fully aware of ethics when studying these techniques. If in any context you are not sure about where to draw the line, come talk to me first.

"An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do." For additional information, please visit:  

Upon accepting admission to Texas A&M University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor System. Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the TAMU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor System.

You are encouraged to discuss concepts with others, but you must do all assignments by yourself unless specifically instructed otherwise. If you refer to any source while doing your homework, you must give credit in your solution, (this holds true whether it be a person, paper, book, solution set, web page or whatever). You MUST write up the assignments in your own words. Never copy someone else’s words and turn them in.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy Statement

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, in Cain Hall, Room B118, or call 845-1637. For additional information visit All students are encouraged to discuss their disability related needs with Disability Resources and their instructors as soon as possible.

Schedule (tentative)

This tentative schedule will be updated as the course progresses. Please check back for most recent update!

Week Topic Reading Assignment
Week 1 Introduction/Overview [GT] Ch. 1
Week 2
Overview/OS Security
[GT] Ch. 3 Homework 1 out
Week 3 OS Security/Program Security
[GT] Ch. 3
Week 4 Program Security
[GT] Ch. 3 and lecture notes Homework 2 out
Week 5 Malware
[GT] Ch. 4
Week 6 Malware
[GT] Ch. 4
Week 7 Symmetric Key Crypto
[GT] Ch. 8 Homework 3 out
Week 8 Hashes and message digests [GT] Ch. 8
Week 9 Public Key Crypto
[GT] Ch. 8 Homework 4 out
Week 10 Security Theory & Model
[GT] Ch. 9
Week 11 Vulnerability Analysis
[GT] Ch. 5 Homework 5 out
Week 12 Firewall and IDS
[GT] Ch. 6
Week 13 Web & Application Security
[GT] Ch. 7,10  Homework 6 out
Week 14 Authentication [GT] Ch. 2,9
Week 15 Project Presentation

Week 16
Final exam


The course materials have incorporated those developed by Dr. Wenke Lee (Georgia Tech), Dr. Nick Feamster (Georgia Tech), Dr. Peng Ning (NCSU), Dr. Vitaly Shmatikov (UT Austin), and Dr. Matt Bishop (UC Davis). The copyright of these materials belongs to them. In many homework assignments, we will use security labs developed by Prof. Wenliang Du at Syracuse University through SEED project. Credits go to Prof. Du!