COMPSCI 597N Introduction to Computer & Network Security


  • When: Fall 2020 August 24 - November 20 (final exam date will be announced at a later date).
  • Where: This course will be making use of a flipped classroom model. Lectures will be pre-recorded and available online. We meet online once a week for discussion only. Discussions are with Professor Kermani not a TA. Discussions will be carried out assuming that students have not only completed readings and assignments, but that the pre-recorded lectures have been viewed. There will be some work assigned and completed during discussions (included in the written assignments portion of the grade).

Online discussions via Zoom are planned for Tuesday afternoons at 5:30-6:45 in Fall 2020.

Students in the CS MS degree must enroll in CS597N as a multi-modal course. Non-matriculated students can enroll in the online class, and with permission.  MS degree students may do so as well (for example, if they are off campus for the semester). In either case, attendance in discussions is mandatory.

  • Instructor: Dr. Parviz Kermani
  • This class can be applied towards the Information Security Certificate or as an outside elective for the CS MS degree.

This course provides an introduction to the principles and practice of computer and network security with a focus on both fundamentals and practical information. The key topics of this course are s brief introduction to computer networking; applied cryptography; protecting users, data, and services; network security, and common threats and defense strategies. Students will complete number of practical lab assignments. The course includes homework assignments, quizzes, and exams.

Prerequisites include COMPSCI 377 or equivalent experience. This course is open only to graduate students.

Tentative Agenda:

  • Fundamentals (1 weeks) - Week 1
    • Basic definitions
      • when is an asset security
      • Confidentiality, integrity, authentication, availability, etc.
    • Ethics
    • Policy basics
    • Threat and risk basics
    • Recovery from attacks
  • Applied Cryptography (2 week) - Weeks 2,3,
    • Symmetric-key crypto
    • Cryptographic hash functions
    • Public/private key cryptography
    • Information Hiding: Watermarking and Steganography
    • Hash Functions & Message Authentication Codes & Applications
  • Applications: Protecting users, data, and services (1 Week)- Week 4
    • Password & User protection
    • File/Software integrity
    • Message authentication
    • Digital Signature
    • X.509 Digital Certificate
    • End-Point Authentication
    • Establishing Session Key
    • Secure e-mail
    • Passwords and user authentication
      • Distributed: Brief introduction to Kerberos
    • Encrypted file systems
  • Fundamentals of Computer Networking (4 weeks)- Weeks 5-8
    • Networks and Internet
    • Application Layer
    • Transport Layer
    • Network Layer
    • Link Layer
    • Local Area and Wireless Networks
  • Network security (1 Week)- Week 9
    • Port scanning
    • Transport-Level Security; SSL/TLS
    • Wi-Fi security
  • Malware: Viruses and Rootkits (1 Week)- Week 10
    • Malware: Viruses and Rootkits, Worms and Botnets
    • Phishing
  • Threats and Mitigation (1 Weeks)- Week 11
    • Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems
    • Online Tracking
    • VPNs
    • iptables
  • Anonymous Communications (1 Week)- Week 12
    • Network Attacks: BGP, DNS, DoS
    • Tor and related systems
  • Wrap up & Review (1 Week)- Week 13

Workload, Grading, and Participation Policy:

There will be one (or two) assignment per week; a total of 10+ assignments. There will be a final project or a final exam for this course.

This is an online course. All class material and (most of) class video lectures will be available on Blackboard. The course will have weekly (online/video) sessions/discussion. Participation in class meeting is expected of all students. If you cannot participate in a class, please let the instructor know.

The final exam will be announced when the date is determined. The exact date and the location will be available on SPIRE. The in-person presence at the final exam location is mandatory. In exceptional case, if you cannot be personally at the final, arrangement will be made that you take the exam remotely.

Grade distribution

The following distribution will be used for the final grading in this course


Approximate Amount



(evenly distributed)



Final (exam or project)



Discussion participation/

(My discretion)





The field of computer/network security and cybersecurity is very dynamic. As such, (except for theoretical part), I have not been able to find and locate a totally comprehensive and acceptable textbook for this course. I have used parts of the following books and well as lecture notes by other leaders of the field in this course.

William Stallings: Network Security Essentials, Sixth Edition, Pearson, 2017
I recommend that students purchase this book. It is condensation of a more theoretical book by the same author and covers the fundamental mechanism used in security practice

Jim Kurose and Keith Ross: Computer Networking: A top-down approach, Seventh Edition, Pearson 2017. For the purpose of this course, the Sixth edition of the book will be sufficient. If you plan to purchase this book, I highly recommend the 7th edition. You might be able to purchase or find PDF of the 6th edition of this book. This is an excellent (the best!) book on networking. I use it to cover the networking part of this course. I have used a chapter of this book on security in my lecture notes.

Textbooks (Reference):

Matt Bishop: Introduction to Computer Security, Addison Wesley, 2005
This is a classic book and I have used part of it in my lecture notes.

Matt Bishop: Computer Security [Art and Science], Pearson, 2019
A new edition of a classic book.





Tuesday, September 3, 2019 to Thursday, December 19, 2019
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 to Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Monday, August 24, 2020 to Friday, November 20, 2020
Class meets on: 
5:30 P.M. – 6:45 P.M.
Parviz Kermani
August, 2020