e CS 161: Computer Security

CS 161 : Computer Security

Spring 2015


Dawn Song (office hours Mon/Wed 8-8:30pm in 245 Li Ka Shing)


Arjun Baokar (OH Wed 1-2pm, 611 Soda)
Kevin Chen (OH Fri 1-2pm, 651 Soda)
Neil Gong (OH Thurs 10:30-11:30am, 411 Soda)
Alec Guertin (OH Thurs 12-1pm, 651 Soda)
Andrew Liu (OH Thurs 3:30-4:30pm, 651 Soda)
Bill Yeh (OH Mon 11:30-12:30pm, 651 Soda)


  MW 630-8P, 245 LI KA SHING


  1.   Tue     11:00-12:00       185 Barrows           Alec
  2.   Tue     12:00-1:00         3111 Etcheverry     Alec
  3.   Tue     2:00-3:00           102 Latimer           Arjun
  4.   Tue     3:00-4:00           102 Latimer           Kevin
  5.   Tue     4:00-5:00           102 Latimer           Kevin
  6.   Tue     5:00-6:00           121 Wheeler           Andrew
  7.   Wed   10:00-11:00       102 Latimer             Bill
  8.   Wed   12:00-1:00         102 Latimer             Arjun


Announcements, questions: the class Piazza site, which you sign up for here.
Feel free to mark your question as private if you don't want other students to see it.


There will be NO FINAL EXAMS during the final week for this course. In particular, CS161 will not have a conflict with CS162's final exam time.

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


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

Date Topic Recommended Readings Slides
Wed 1/21 Course Introduction slides
Mon 1/26 Introduction to Security G&T § 1.1, Craft § 1-1.1, 1.3 slides
Wed 1/28 Memory Safety Vulnerabilites: Attacks and Defenses I Smashing the Stack for Fun and Profit slides
Mon 2/2 Memory Safety Vulnerabilites: Attacks and Defenses II G&T § 3.4, Craft § 6.1-6.3
Frame Pointer Overwrite
Basic Integer Overflows
Format String Vulnerabilities
Memory Safety Notes
Tue 2/3 Project 1 Out
Wed 2/4 Memory Safety Vulnerabilities and Fuzzing (Guest Lecture: Kevin Chen) Buffer Overflows: Attacks and Defenses for the Vulnerability of the Decade
Bypassing Browser Memory Protections
Mon 2/9 Symbolic Execution slides
Wed 2/11 Static Analysis slides
Tue 2/17 HW 1 Out
Wed 2/18 Program Verification Reasoning about Code slides
Tue 2/24 Project 1 Due
Mon 2/23 Security Architecture Principles Patterns
Security Principles
G&T § 1.2, Craft § 1.2
G&T § 1.1.4, Craft § 3.4
Wed 2/25 Malware: Botnets, Viruses, and Worms (Guest Lecture: Damon McCoy) G&T § 4.3-4.4, Craft § 6.4 slides
Thu 2/26 HW 1 Due
Mon 3/2 Midterm 1 Review slides
Wed 3/4 MIDTERM 1 (in 245 Li Ka Shing 6:30-8:00pm)
Mon 3/9 Web Security Overview and Concepts Inkling Textbook Login and instructions on Piazza slides
Wed 3/11 Web Application Security I Inkling Textbook Login and instructions on Piazza slides
Sun 3/15 Project 2 Out
Mon 3/16 Web Application Security II Inkling Textbook Login and instructions on Piazza slides
Wed 3/18 Web Application Security III Inkling Textbook Login and instructions on Piazza slides
Thu 3/19 HW 2 Out
Mon 3/23 Spring Recess, no class
Wed 3/25 Spring Recess, no class
Mon 3/30 Crypto I Symmetric Key Crypto Notes
G&T § 8.1.0, 8.1.1, 8.1.3, 8.1.6, 8.1.7
Wed 4/1 Crypto II Asymmetric Key Crypto Notes
Signature Notes
G&T § 8.2.1, 8.2.3, 8.2.4, 8.4.1, 8.4.3
Fri 4/3 Project 2 Due
Mon 4/6 Crypto III (Guest Lecture: Neil Gong) Password Notes
Public Key Infrastructure Notes
G&T § 1.3
Tue 4/7
Wed 4/8 Crypto IV slides
Thu 4/12 HW 2 Due
Mon 4/13 Network Security I (Guest Lecture: Kevin Chen)
HW 3 Out
Tue 4/14 Project 3 Out
Wed 4/15 Network Security II (Guest Lecture: Kevin Chen) slides
Mon 4/20 Midterm 2 Review slides
Tue 4/21 HW 3 Due
Wed 4/22 Crypto currency and Ethereum (Guest Lecture: Kieren Scott James-Lubin, Martin Becze)
in Wozniack Lounge (4th floor Soda)
Mon 4/27 Security in the real world (Guest Lecture: Devdatta Akhawe)
Wed 4/29 MIDTERM 2 (in 245 Li Ka Shing 6:30-8:00pm)
Mon 5/4 RRR Week, no class
Wed 5/6 RRR Week, no class
Thu 5/7 Project 3 Due


Homeworks will be submitted electronically via GradeScope. Homework solutions must be legible; we may mark off for difficult-to-read solutions, or even refrain from grading them entirely.

There will be a total 3 homework assignments over the course of the semester.


There will be 3 course projects.


There will be only be two midterms in this course. In particular, there is no final exam.

The midterms will be given on Wednesday March 4 and Wednesday April 29 during regular class hours, 6:30-8:00pm. The location will be revealed closer to the exam date.

All exams are mandatory. If you will be unable to attend any of these dates, you must contact the instructor (via a message on Piazza) at some point during the first week of classes.


We will compute grades from a weighted average, as follows:
  • Homeworks: 15% (3 * 5%)
  • Projects: 45% (3 * 15%)
  • Midterms: 40% (2 * 20%)

There will be a total 3 homework assignments over the course of the semester.

Course Policies

Contact information: If you have a question, the best way to contact us is via the class Piazza 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 or hints on homework/project questions before the homework/project is due.

If your question is personal or not of interest to other students, you are encouraged to mark the question as private on Piazza. If you wish to talk with one of us individually in person, you are welcome to come to any of our office hours. We prefer that use these methods instead of sending us email; email regrettably does not scale well to a class of this size.

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

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

Collaboration: Homeworks 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. For homeworks, you must never read, see, or copy the solutions of other students, and you must not allow other students to see your solutions. For projects, you must never read, see, or copy the code or solutions of other students (except for your project partner, for group projects), and you must not allow other students (except for your project partner) to see your solutions or code.

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 homeworks or projects from students who have taken the course in previous years, and you must not review homework or project solutions from previous years.

You must ensure that your solutions will not be visible to other students. If you use Github or another source control system to store your solutions electronically, you must ensure your account is configured so your solutions are not publicly visible. If you use Github, Github offers free student accounts that allow you to keep your solutions private; please use one.

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/project solution or partial solution, nor have it in your possession, either electronically or on paper (except for your project partner, for group projects). You must never share your solutions, or partial solutions, with another student (other than your project partner, for group projects), 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 concern 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 your discussion section TA. 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. That said, we particularly recommend Introduction to Computer Security by Michael Goodrich & Roberto Tamassia (ISBN-10: 0321512944, ISBN-13: 9780321512949).

Lecture notes: We will provide lecture notes and/or slides for many of the lectures. Lecture notes and slides are not a substitute for attending class, as our discussion in class may deviate from the written material. You are ultimately resposible for material as presented in lecture and section.

Discussion sections: Attendance at discussion sections is expected, and sections may cover important material not covered in lecture. 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:

  • The problem(s) you want to be re-graded.
  • For each of these problems a clear description of why you think the problem was misgraded.
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 a 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 solutions from previous classes 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 feedback will be available via glookup or PandaGrader.

Late homework/project policy: We will give no credit for homework/projects 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/projects.

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 resolve/remedy your misunderstanding early than have it expand into further problems later. Even if you are convinced that you are the only person in the class that doesn't understand the material, and think it must be entirely your fault for falling behind, please overcome this concern and ask for help as soon as you need it. Remember, helping you learn the material is in fact 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 likely get more out of an office hour visit if you have spent some 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.