CS 161 : Computer Security

Spring 2011


Vern Paxson (737 Soda)


  TuTh, 11AM-12:30PM, 277 Cory


  1.     Wed   11:00-12:00:     75 Evans (Mobin)
  2.     Wed   12:00-1:00:    71 Evans (Matthias)
  3.     Wed   3:00-4:00:    285 Cory (Devdatta)
  4.     Wed   4:00-5:00:    285 Cory (Devdatta)
  5.     Wed   2:00-3:00:    3 Evans (Matthias)

Office Hours:

  Devdatta:     Wednesday 1-3 in 711 Soda (alcove)
  Mobin:     Thursday 10-11 in 707 Soda (alcove)
  Matthias:     Thursday 4-6 in 711 Soda (alcove)
  Vern:     Monday 1:30-2:30 in 737 Soda


Web page: http://www-inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/~cs161/
Announcements, questions: the class Piazzza site, which you sign up for here.
Feel free to email any question/comment you want to make privately to the instructor at vern@eecs.berkeley.edu.


The lecture schedule is subject to change and will be revised as the course progresses.

Data Topic Readings Slides
Tue 1/18 Introduction Pfleeger & Pfleeger Section 1; Anderson Chapter 1 Slides
Thu 1/20 Memory Safety Notes. P&P Section 3.0, 3.1, 3.2
Smashing The Stack For Fun And Profit, by Aleph One.
Tue 1/25 Defending Against Memory Safety Vulnerabilities Notes on Reasoning About Code (and other defensive programming) Slides
Thu 1/27 Principles of Secure Software Notes on Principles and Design Patterns for Secure Systems.
P&P Section 3.5
Tue 2/1 Background on Networking P&P Section 7.0, 7.1 (pp. 376-396). Slides
Thu 2/3 Network Attacks P&P pp. 396-424. Slides
Tue 2/8 Network Attacks, con't Reliable DNS Forgery in 2008: Kaminsky's Discovery, An Illustrated Guide to the Kaminsky DNS Vulnerability Slides
Thu 2/10 Network Control P&P Section 7.4; P&P pp. 449-450 (Virtual Private Networks) Slides
Tue 2/15 Review of Network Attacks / Denial-of-Service P&P pp. 427-432 Slides
Thu 2/17 Web Security P&P pp. 424-427; Web Security: Are You Part Of The Problem?; SQL Injection Attacks by Example Slides
Tue 2/22 Web Security, con't P&P pp. 433-437; XSS (Cross Site Scripting) Prevention Cheat Sheet Slides
Thu 2/24 Web Security, con't P&P Section 4.5; Secure Session Management With Cookies for Web Applications
Squigler software
Tue 3/1 Impersonation A Chapter 2 Slides
Thu 3/3 OS Security Notes from Prof. Wagner
P&P Chapter 4.0-4.4 (pp. 188-219); A Chapter 4
Tue 3/8 Midterm Exam
Thu 3/10 Symmetric Key Cryptography Notes. P&P Chapters 2.1, 2.4. Slides (also for 3/15)
Tue 3/15 Public Key Cryptography Notes. P&P Chapter 2.7.
Thu 3/17 Public Key Cryptography, con't / Message Authentication Codes, Digital Signatures Notes.
Tue 3/29 Key Exchange and Management Notes.
Thu 3/31 Securing Internet Communication P&P Chapter 7.3 Slides
Tue 4/5 DNSSEC / Privacy P&P Chapter 10.0-10.6 (pp. 603-638) Slides
Thu 4/7 Anonymity / Sneakiness P&P pp. 150-160; A Chapter 17 Slides
Tue 4/12 Detecting Attackers P&P Chapter 7.5 (pp. 484-490); A Chapter 21.4.3/21.4.4 Slides
Thu 4/14 Detecting Attackers, con't Slides
Tue 4/19 Viruses and Worms P&P Chapter 3.3 (pp. 111-141); A Chapter 21.3 Slides
Thu 4/21 Worms and Botnets Slides
Tue 4/26 The Underground Economy Slides
Thu 4/28 Course Review Slides
Thu 5/12 Final Exam, 8AM - 11AM


Homeworks will generally be submitted via hardcopy using the drop box labelled "CS 161" in 283 Soda, unless otherwise stated. Homework solutions must be legible; we may mark off for difficult-to-read solutions, or even refrain from grading them entirely. You must print your name, your class account name (e.g., cs161-xy), your TA's name, the discussion section time where you want to pick up the homework, and the homework number prominently on the first page. Staple all pages together. You risk receiving no credit for any homework lacking this information!
No late homeworks accepted.


There will be 2 course projects. We will penalize late project submissions as follows: less than 24 hours late, you lose 10%; less than 48 hours late, you lose 20%; less than 72 hours late, you lose 40%; at or after 72 hours, late submissions no longer accepted. (There are no "slip days".) Note that this late policy applies only to projects, not homeworks.


There will be one midterm and one final exam.


We will compute grades from a weighted average, as follows:

  • Homeworks: 20%
  • Projects: 30%
  • Midterm: 20%
  • Final exam: 30%

Course Policies

Contact information: If you have a question, the best way to contact us is via the class Piazzza site. The staff (instructors and TAs) will check the site regularly, and if you use it, other students will be able to help you too. Please avoid posting answers to homework questions before the homework is due.

If your question is personal or not of interest to other students, send email to vern@eecs.berkeley.edu, or to one of the TAs if you prefer. If you wish to talk with one of us individually in person, you are welcome to come to our office hours. If the office hours are not convenient, you can make an appointment with any of us by email. Please reserve email for the questions you can't get answered in office hours, in discussion sections, or through the newsgroup.

Announcements: The instructors and TAs will periodically post announcements, clarifications, etc. to the Piazzza site. Hence it is important that you check the it reguarly throughout the semester.

Prerequisites: The prerequisites for CS 161 are CS 61B, CS61C, and either CS70 or Math 55. We assume basic knowledge of both Java and C. You will need to have a basic familiarity using Unix systems.

Collaboration: Homework assignments will specify whether they must be done on your own or may be done in groups. Either way, you must write up your solutions entirely on your own. You must never read or copy the solutions of other students, and you must not share your own solutions with other students. You may use books or online resources to help solve homework problems, but you must always credit all such sources in your writeup and you must never copy material verbatim. Not only is this good scholarly conduct, it also protects you from accusations of theft of your colleagues' ideas. You must not receive help on homework assignments from students who have taken the course in previous years, and you must not review homework solutions from previous years.

We believe that most students can distinguish between helping other students understand course material and cheating. Explaining a subtle point from lecture or discussing course topics is an interaction that we encourage, but you should never read another student's homework solution or partial solution, nor have it in your possession, either electronically or on paper. You must never share your written solutions, or a partial solutions, with another student, even with the explicit understanding that it will not be copied -- not even with students in your homework group. You must write your homework solution strictly by yourself.

Warning: Your attention is drawn to the Department's Policy on Academic Dishonesty. In particular, you should be aware that copying or sharing solutions, in whole or in part, from other students in the class or any other source without acknowledgment constitutes cheating. Any student found to be cheating risks automatically failing the class and referral to the Office of Student Conduct.

Ethics: We will be discussing attacks in this class, some of them quite nasty. None of this is in any way an invitation to undertake these attacks in any fashion other than with informed consent of all involved and affected parties. The existence of a security hole is no excuse. These issues implicate not only professional ethics, but also UCB policy and state and federal law. If there is any question in your mind about what conduct is allowable, contact the instructors first.

Computer accounts: We will use 'class' accounts this semester. You will need to obtain an account form with a username and password from us. When you first log into your account, you will be prompted to enter information about yourself; that will register you with our grading software. If you want to check that you are registered correctly with our grading software, you can run check-register at any time.

Textbook: The class does not have a required textbook. Two books are optionally recommended as partial resources: Security in Computing, 4th ed. (Charles P. Pfleeger, Shari Lawrence Pfleeger; Prentice Hall, 2007); and Security Engineering, 2nd ed. (Ross Anderson; Wiley, 2008). The first edition of this second book is also available online at Ross Anderson's web site.

Lecture notes: We will provide lecture notes or slides for many of the lectures. You should not view the availability of lecture notes or slides as a substitute for attending class, as our discussion in class may deviate from the written material.

Discussion sections: Attendance at discussion sections is expected, and sections may cover important material not covered in lecture. Please enroll in a discussion section via Telebears, if you have not already. You may only enroll in a discussion section that has space available; see the online schedule. You may switch discussion sections only with the approval of the TA of the section you want to switch to, and only if that section is not full. Outside of your discussion section, you should feel free to attend any of the staff office hours (not just your section TA's office hours) and ask any of us for help.

Re-grading policies: Any requests for grade changes or re-grading must be made within one week of when the work was returned. To ask for a re-grade, staple to your work a cover page that specifies:

Give this to your TA. Without this page, your work will not be re-graded. Even if you ask for only one problem to be re-graded, your entire work may be re-graded, so your score could decrease, stay the same, or increase. We will not accept verbal re-grade requests or re-grade requests without a cover sheet stapled on. Don't expect us to re-grade your homework on the spot: we normally take the time to read your appeal at some point after it is submitted.

Bear in mind that our primary aim in grading is consistency, so that all students are treated the same. For this reason, we are unlikely to adjust the score of individual students on an issue of partial credit if the score allocated is consistent with the grading policy we adopted for that problem.

More on homeworks: If a problem can be interpreted in more than one way, clearly state the assumptions under which you solve the problem. In writing up your homework you are allowed to consult any book, paper, or published material, except homework solutions from previous classes (at UCB or elsewhere), as stated under the Collaboration section. If you consult external sources, you must cite your source(s). We will make model solutions available after the due date, and will return graded problem sets in a later discussion section.

Late homework policy: We will give no credit for homework turned in after the deadline. Please don't ask for extensions. We don't mean to be harsh, but we prefer to make model solutions available shortly after the due date, which makes it impossible to accept late homeworks.

Don't be afraid to ask for help! Are you struggling? We'd much rather you approached us for help than gradually fall behind over the semester until things become untenable. Sometimes this happens when students fear a possibly unpleasant conversation with a professor if they admit to not understanding something. We would much rather deal with your misunderstanding early than deal with its consequences later! Even if you are convinced that you are the only person in the class that doesn't understand the material, and that it is entirely your fault for having fallen behind, please overcome this concern and ask for help as soon as you need it. Remember that the other students in the class work under similar constraints--they are taking multiple classes and are often holding down outside employment. Don't hesitate to ask for help--helping you learn the material is what we're paid to do, after all!

Advice: The following tips are offered based on our experience with CS 161:

1. Don't wait until the last minute to start projects! The projects can be time-consuming. Pace yourself. Students who procrastinate generally suffer.

2. Make use of office hours! The instructors and TAs hold office hours expressly to help you. It is often surprising how many students do not take advantage of this service. You are free to attend as many office hours as you wish. You are not constrained just to use the office hours of your section TA. You will also likely get more out of an office hour if you have spent a little time in advance thinking about the questions you have, and formulating them precisely. (In fact, this process can often lead you to a solution yourself!)

3. Participate actively in discussion sections! Discussion sections are not auxiliary lectures. They are an opportunity for interactive learning. The success of a discussion section depends largely on the willingness of students to participate actively in it. As with office hours, the better prepared you are for the discussion, the more you are likely to get out of it.