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.

Detailed information about the course can be found in the syllabus.


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

Items in reading list (found in the course’s schedule)

Textbooks (suggested):

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


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

Lab participation 10%
Quizzes 10%
Midterm Exam 25%
Final Exam 25%
Assignments 30%

Course Schedule







Reading material

Control-flow integrity