CSCI 430 - Introduction to Computer and Network Security - Spring 2023

CSCI 430 - Spring 2023
Introduction to Computer and Network Security
Tue/Thu 4:00 - 5:50 pm in THH 114 (Zoom links on Blackboard)

  • Class on 1/17 will be canceled. We will resume with module 4 on Thursday, 1/19
  • Sample midterm one and two.
  • CTF1 teams have been assigned: Team Assignments
  • The homework 1 rubric is now available upon request. If you find a discrepancy, please contact the professor and/or TA's.
  • Remote attendees: please find Zoom links on Blackboard
  • We will be using Piazza for class discussion. Please try this first before emailing the instructor or TA.
  • People/Contact
    • Instructor:
      Dr. Luis Garcia (Contact:
      Office hours: Thu 2:30 - 3:30 in SAL 311 and by appointment via Zoom (use class link)
    • TAs:
      Rishit Saiya (Contact: and Kunwar Singh (Contact: )
      Office hours: Mon 10:00 - 11:00 AM and Wed 12:00 - 1:00 PM in SAL125 and by appointment via (Zoom)
    Course Description
    Computers and networking are crucial to many aspects of our daily lives: entertainment, business, personal communication, healthcare, transportation, utilities, etc. Security of such systems is thus of paramount importance for protecting our assets or even our lives. This course will give students an overview of systems security, its workings, and its role in protecting data and computing resources. Students will receive both theoretical knowledge of threats and defenses and practical skills allowing them to implement some popular threats and defenses in a laboratory setting.

    After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

    • Describe and assess a broad range of security problems and solutions
    • Understand the fundamental mathematics and engineering underlying security systems, as well as basic networking and operating systems
    • Judge the suitability of security systems for various applications
    • Install and configure some basic, open-source security systems
    • Know how to develop new security systems and features

    In addition to lectures students will be engaged through a number of hands-on homeworks and capture-the-flag (CTF) exercises, where they will apply the knowledge from the class in realistic security scenarios, attacking or defending real servers on the DeterLab testbed for security experimentation.

    Prerequisites: CSCI 201 or equivalent (e.g. EE classes on the same topics), or permission of the instructor. Please contact the instructor if you wish to enroll and don't have the prerequisites.

    Stallings and Brown, Computer Security (Required), Any edition
    ISBN: 9780134794105
    Syllabus / Topics Covered
    DateTopics coveredSlides/VideosReading/LinksHomework/Quiz
    1/10Class logistics
    Intro to Deterlab
    Logistics slides Read Core Quickstart guide.
    Read User guidelines for DeterLab
    1/12Intro to cybersecurity
    Network primer
    Network primer

    Module 1-Goals and Terminology

    Module 2-Threats

    Module 3-Security Challenges
    1/19Cryptography Module 4-Crypto Basics
    Module 5-Crypto: One-way Hashes
    Homework 1 Assigned
    Quiz 1 on Blackboard
    1/24Cryptography Module 6-Crypto: Symmetric Cryptography Quiz 2 on Blackboard
    Encryption exercises
    Module 7-Crypto: Asymmetric Cryptography
    Encryption Exercise
    Encryption TriviaQuiz 3 on Blackboard
    1/31Key managementModule 8: Shared Key Exchange
    Quiz 4 on Blackboard
    2/2Key managementModule 9: Public Key Exchange Let's Encrypt CA
    Create your own root cert
    Quiz 5 on Blackboard
    2/7Authentication Module 10: AuthenticationHomework Due
    Quiz 6 on Blackboard
    2/9Access control Module 11: Access ControlQuiz 7 on Blackboard
    2/14Midterm preparationMidterm Review
    2/16Intrusions 1 (Not on Midterm)Module 12: Intrusions 1: Recon and Scanning
    2/23CTF1 preparation
    CTF1 Slides
    CTF1 Instructions
    2/28Intrusions 2 Module 13: Intrusions 2: Scanning (cont'd) and Initial Access Homework 2 Assigned
    3/2Intrusions 3 Module 14: Intrusions 3: Initial Access (cont'd), Maintaining Access, and Covering Tracks Quiz 8 on Blackboard
    3/7 Passwords Module 15: Passwords
    3/9 Privacy Module 16: Privacy 1: Private Communications
    3/21 (After Spring Recess)CTF1 starts
    3/23 Privacy Homework 2 Due
    3/28CTF 1 ends
    CTF2 phase 0 starts

    Homework 3 posting

    4/6DNS Security Homework 4 posting
    4/11Routing Security
    CTF2 phase 0 ends, phase 1 starts

    4/13Information Flow Security
    4/18Cyber-physical Systems Security
    CTF2 phase 1 ends, phase 2 starts
    4/20Article PresentationsHomework 3 due
    4/25Article Presentations
    CTF2 phase 2 ends
    4/27 Final preparationHomework 4 due
    Exams, Homeworks and CTF Exercises
    There will be four homeworks assigned according to the class schedule and due 1-2 weeks afterwards. These homeworks are to be done individually, by each student. They require up to 8 hours to complete and are done remotely on the DeterLab testbed ( There will be two CTF (capture-the-flag) exercises that will be performed in class. Each student will be assigned to a 6-8 member team. Each team will have to simultaneously protect their own data/servers and attack data/servers from one other team. These exercises require 1-2 weeks of preparation (roughly 1-2 h per day, each work day).
    Grades will be calculated based on the following formula:
    Class tasksPercentage of the final grade
    CTF Exercises (2)20%
    Homeworks (4)20%
    Midterm exam15%
    Final exam25%
    Late homework policy: Please start homework early and come to office hours if you need help. This year (2023) there is no late penalty for homework submissions up to 1 week late. After 1 week, there is a 20 percent penalty. You can submit any time until the last day of the class.

    Final exam: Thursday, May 4th, 4:30-6:30 pm, in the classroom

    Students with Disabilities
    Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.
    Academic Integrity
    USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one's own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another's work as one's own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles. Scampus, the Student Guidebook, contains the Student Conduct Code in Section 11.00, while the recommended sanctions are located in Appendix A:

    Students will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review, should there be any suspicion of academic dishonesty. The Review process can be found at: .

    Emergency Preparedness/Course Continuity in a Crisis
    In case of a declared emergency if travel to campus is not feasible, USC executive leadership will announce an electronic way for instructors to teach students in their residence halls or homes using a combination of Blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technologies.