CS 326e ELEMENTS of NETWORKING (& Security)
(www.cs.utexas.edu/users/chris/cs326e/current.html)


The world is now a connected place and your digital future depends on using and understanding the power of networks.  This course provides an introduction to the principles and basic concepts of the Internet and the World Wide Web, with a focus on network security and the privacy of your data.  Other topics include wired vs. wireless networks,  file-sharing via peer-to-peer networking, email/spam, instant messaging, and the challenges of using the Internet as a phone or a TV.

The course is designed for Elements students who do not have a background in networking and those who are interested in a richer understanding of network protocols and security.


SPRING 2007 "new and improved" TOPICS: (a subset)
  • What's the difference between the "Internet" and the "Web"?

  • Decipher the terms and acronyms that you encounter on the Internet:  URL, bps, IP address, RSS, https, TCP/IP, DHCP, NAT, firewall, VOIP, IMAP, (and on & on & on).  Learn the definition or protocol, where it fits into the larger Internet, the problem it solves & explore how it works.

  • How does the Internet support the Web Application?  First, explore the history of the web, then the role of the browser (client) and the server.  The network focus is on HTTP as the most common "application-layer" protocol; plus a study of how the underlying protocols and web caching actually impact your usage of the web.  FYI: No other protocol requires “cookies”; why is that?

  • Security: When you buy something via Pay-Pal or Amazon, they assure you it is "safe", but what does “safe” really mean?  Has your browser ever asked if you "trust this certificate"?  After you study security, you can verify that Amazon encrypted your information and you can examine a certificate.  And you'll realize why any UT official email uses PGP to digitally sign the message and what UT ITS means when it refers to: “802.1x authentication”.

  • But is my “data” safe?  What about all of those stolen social security numbers or credit card numbers?  What can you do to protect your computer from attacks via the network?

  • Internet in the news: While the news stories are aimed at a general audience, what are the real technical issues at stake and what actions can you take?  The front page of the Sunday NY Times 1/7/2007 included the headline: Attack of the Zombie Computers Is Growing Threat.  “These systems, called botnets, are being blamed for the huge spike in spam that bedeviled the Internet in recent months, as well as fraud and data theft.” Other popular topics are the Network Neutrality legislation, the disturbing trends for 2007 predicted by McAfee, etc.

  • How secure is your Wi-Fi connection?  At a ‘hotspot’?  At UT?  In the CS department?

  • Study the underlying protocols: TCP, IP, Ethernet, 802.11 Wi-Fi, DNS and DHCP, along with performance issues, network management tools, BitTorrent, etc.

  • Sample Activities: Experiments at home, “hands-on” Labs in the CS Network Instructional Lab, diagnose problems, create a temporary domain name for your computer, a small network research project of your choice, a straightforward java program to build a very simple browser (i.e. an http client) and then turn it into a bandwidth speed test program.

DETAILS:
Time: MW 4:00-5:15  in BUR 216
INSTRUCTOR: 
Chris Edmondson-Yurkanan 
She is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and an Internet Historian
STUDENT
COMMENTS:

  • "Loved this course, Every subject was interesting, Labs were fun!"
  • "History, current developments, trends [all] helped relate the technical aspects to application in real world..."  
  • "Well-organized", "enthusiastic"
  • "Good lecturer so I came to class regularly... fun and interesting"

Please email me with any questions  
(chris@cs.utexas.edu).
  • The Spring 2007 syllabus is new and improved: this will be a fun, engaging, helpful course. 
  • Typically, at least half of the class earns an A.