CS 378: System Security - Spring 2015

Faculty Lead: Professor Calvin Lin and Professor Mohit Tiwari.
Research Educator: Ashay Rane.
Teaching Assistant: Manuel Philipose.
Class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30pm to 4:45pm in GDC 5.516.

Other Instances

Fall 2015 course webpage.
Spring 2016 course webpage.
Fall 2016 course webpage.

Office hours

Calvin LinMon, Wed: 3:30-4:30GDC 5.512
Mohit TiwariTue, Th from 4:45pm to 5:30pmPOB 6.240
Ashay RaneWed, Fri: 2-3pmGDC 5.440
Manuel PhiliposeMon: 5-6:30, Fri: 11-12:30GDC 5.440

Course description

This course will explore a series of core security principles and concepts from the perspective of both the attacker and the defender, as students are exposed to tools and techniques used in modern attacks and defenses. Students will develop a variety of research skills, as they learn to read research papers critically, to communicate technical ideas clearly, and to conduct experiments thoughtfully.

Here is an approximate list of topics that will be covered in the course.

Reading material

Assorted technical papers, roughly one per week (there is no textbook).

Reading assignments

We will read, review and discuss a number of papers in this class, with approximately one review due per week. Links to papers and the review deadline will be posted on Canvas. Reviews of assigned papers are due at midnight. Of course, you need not wait until midnight to turn in your reviews.

These responses do not have to be long (though sometimes they may be), but they should be thoughtfully prepared. In particular, the responses can contain many different types of remarks:

Homework assignments and projects

We have a series of exciting homework assignments, which will typically be due one or two weeks after they are available. Unlike typical homework assignments, these will be often under-specified to somewhat mimic research tasks. Students will often have to pose questions and/or learn on their own to complete these assignments.

In true CS tradition, the assignment and project reports will be PDF files created using LaTeX. You may use this template file for your responses. Comments in the file should guide you to the portions that you would have to modify. To produce a PDF file, use the following command:
pdflatex report-template.tex && bibtex report-template && pdflatex report-template.tex && pdflatex report-template.tex

Late submission policy: 10% reduction in the grade per day.


Occasionally, there will be a short (5 questions, 5 minutes) closed-notes quiz on the content covered in the previous discussion. The goals of these quizzes are to encourage students to reflect on previous discussions, to draw connections across topics, and to think critically about topics.


Use of Piazza for class discussions is highly encouraged, and if you haven't signed up already, please sign up here. Important updates will be delivered via Piazza. Using Piazza also helps the TAs in answering questions that may be of interest to more than one student, without indivudually replying to each email. Please note that by default, everything you post on Piazza will be visible to the other students as well. This is desirable in many cases but not all the time. If you want to discuss your solution (or anything that may give a hint of the solution) with the instructors, please ensure that you select “Instructors” in the Post to section.

Student code of conduct

UTCS lists the code of conduct here, which lists the department's expectations from you and what you can expect from the department. If you have any questions or concerns, please ask!