CS 657 Advanced Topics in Computer Security
Spring 2008

Official Course Description. In this course we will read publications of computer security research. Students will gain experience reading and discussing research papers. Students will be expected to conduct research-related work in computer security.

Prerequisites. No Particular Prerequisites.

Location and Times. Snell 118, MW 4:00-5:15.

Instructor. Chris Lynch. Science Center 377, 268-2384, clynch@clarkson.edu.

Office Hours. Every day 3-4

Required Text. No text, just online research papers.

Course Objectives.

  1. To learn about different types of cryptographic protocols.

  2. To learn what security properties protocols should have and to analyze protocols to see if they meet those properties.

  3. To read research papers.

  4. To present research papers.
Demonstrable outcomes. By the end of the semester,
  1. You will know about different types of cryptographic protocols.

  2. You will be able to design protocols which meet required properties and be able to verify that protocols meet the properties they are supposed to.

  3. You will know how to read research papers.

  4. You will be able to present research papers.

  5. You will be able to conduct research in computer security.

Course Description. Cryptographic protocols are becoming more and more prevalent each day. Everything we do on the internet involves some kind of protocol to ensure that information is kept secret, that what we send is what is received, and that we are talking to who we think we are. Cryptographic protocols are also being created for other areas, such as voting, electronic banking and contract signing. Unfortunately, it is not easy to design a secure protocol. Many protocols have been found to contain subtle bugs many years after they were put in use. In this course we will discuss the security of cryptographic protocols. First of all, what are the properties that we want the protocols to have? Even this is not so obvious. We will discuss how to design secure protocols, how to find attacks on protocols, and how to verify that a protocol is secure. We will discuss some automatic methods to find bugs in protocols, and how to prove them secure. We will focus on the actual protocols, and not on the underlying cryptographic algorithms. No particular knowledge in cryptography or networks in necessary for this course. This course will discuss the state of the art in this topic. We will read the earliest research papers in the topic right up to today's current research. I hope that by the end of the course, students will have the ability to start conducting research in this area. At the very least, students will have an understanding of the current research in the area.

Grading. This class will involve lots of reading of research papers. You will be expected to make informal presentations several times throughout the semester, and you will be expected to participate in class discussions. Grading will be based on your knowlege of the course material based on your presentations and participation. There will be a class project. Our goal is to produce some original research and write a paper.