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CIS 590/798: Secure Networks and Distributed Systems


  • December 1st: I'm going to require people to sign up for presentations by tomorrow evening, after which I will assign time slots. This is because someone will get the Monday slot and will need the weekend to prepare. Those doing group projects will need to present as a group, with roughly equal time for each presenter. Thank you.
  • November 11th: Happy 11/11/11 day! Sorry for the late notice – due to unforeseen circumstances, office hours are cancelled today (11/11/2011). As previously announced, I'll be out of town Monday, Tuesday, and most of Wednesday (no class those days), but please email me if you would like to meet.
  • November 8th: The "schedule an appointment" feature using Google Calendar hasn't been very popular, and it has a number of privacy issues, so I'm discontinuing it's use. Please email for appointments or come by regular office hours. Thanks everyone for helping me try out new features!
  • October 28th: Please note that the paper for November 18th has changed – there is now a much more technical and thorough version, as well as a short less technical paper that preceded it. The longer version is not required, but I would suggest that after reading the short version, you at least skim the technical version to see what was done to implement the original plan.
  • October 28th: My office hours on Wednesday November 12th will be cut short due to a conflict. I'll be around from 3pm to 4pm, unlike the usual 3pm to 4:30pm. If you need to meet but can't make office hours, please email me. Thanks!
  • October 14th: Please note the schedule change on November 7th. Class and office hours are also cancelled on November 9th. Notice that the order of papers also changed slightly. "SANE" will not be on the 7th, while "Stealth Probing" will be on November 18th.
  • October 10th: I have to cancel Office hours on Wednesday, October 12th due to a last-minute scheduling conflict. Sorry for the late notice.
  • October 9th: The project process report due date was incorrect on the schedule The correct date is October 24th. Same format as proposals – just make changes to your proposal revision document to reflect any progress, initial results, and/or schedule changes that have happened since the revised report.
  • October 7th: I'm going to say this in class as well, but I wanted to clarify grading of paper summaries as well as make a format change.
    • Summaries are graded on a 0, check-minus, check, and check-plus system. Check plus is by definition "extra," and a check is the expected grade. Please do not worry about the check being (2/3) as far as raw score. I should figure out a way to set K-State Online to explicitly treat check-pluses as 2 regular points plus one extra credit point. I will see if I can do this. The way K-State Online currently displays your percentage score is not correct – don't trust it!
    • Summaries may not be the best way to keep track of paper reading. After thinking about it, I think we should change the paper "reports" from summaries to at least two of one of the following (e.g. one technical content question and one security problem, or two technical questions, or two security problems):
      • A question about the technical content of the paper, e.g. asking for clarification on specific technical points, background, etc.
      • A potential security problem with the solution outlined in the paper, e.g. "this is vulnerable to Sybil attacks which would overwhelm the number of honest user identities.
      To keep things more or less consistent, you have the option to keep turning in old-style summaries if you want. Any given paper you can turn in whatever you choose.
    Finally, I've created a K-State Online drop box for anything you wish to submit electronically, so you don't have to use email. I have no preference to which method you use for electronic submission.
    Thanks again for all your helpful comments on the evaluation!
  • October 3rd: (See update on November 8th.) To hopefully make it easier to schedule appointments with me and in general make me easier to find, I'm trying out Google Calendar's "Appointment slots" feature. If it works as advertised, you should just be able to click the schedule appointment link either here or on my homepage, log in with any Google Mail account, and you will see all available appointment slots. Click on one to sign up.
    There are some downsides to this – you can't cancel or edit an appointment unless you also use Google Calendar (but you can add one with any Google Mail account, as far as I can see). Also, since my schedule is displayed on my home page, the title you give to your appointment and your Gmail address which you used to make the appointment will all show up on the public calendar. I can't see any way to turn this off, and even if you set the event as "private" in your Google Calendar, it still appears public on mine. Also, from early testing it looks like even using the built-in "Cancel Appointment" function doesn't work – the appointment stays around until the owner (me) deletes it. I'm not sure if the convenience is worth the hassle, but we'll see. Hopefully bugs will be ironed out and this will be a good long-term solution. For now, I'm making it available, Google's bugs and all, so please use with caution (especially in light of the privacy aspects of displaying your email and event title to the entire world), and confirm over email if something is very important. Let's see if this little experiment works! Thanks.
  • October 3rd: Please note that class has been cancelled on October 26th, and all presentations from October 26th to November 2nd have been moved forward one class session. The schedule already reflects this change. Sorry for the late notice and thanks to everyone whose presentation had to be rescheduled.
  • September 28th: I realize that some papers take a while to read. Since there are frequently 3 papers assigned per week, please please stop reading a paper if it is taking more than 3 hours. Feel free to mention this in your summary. The last thing I want to do is make the reading assignments burdensome. (Thank you to the anonymous person who brought this to my attention!)
  • September 19th: Remember: room change for one day one – on Friday, September 30th we will meet in Nichols 316 conference room. Same time as usual. Thanks.
  • September 7th: On project proposals: I would expect to see at least 5 pages, similar in form to a paper we might read in class. A sample outline: introduction (the problem being addressed), background (related work), gap(s) in existing work you want to address, what you expect to have at the end of the project (at least a write-up of some kind, possibly also runnable software) and a proposed timeline for doing the work. 5 pages is a guideline: if everything you are proposing fits into, say, 3 pages, I would suspect you didn't look at enough background material. It's a heuristic, not an iron-clad requirement or rule.
  • September 7th: Project ideas: last year there were several usability projects to improve open source security software or implement a security feature in a browser. Improving any of the systems we cover in class or any of the papers in recent security conferences (see project ideas for conference listing) would be excellent, as long as the work has not already been done since the paper was published (this is why the background research section is crucial). I've also seen a number of interesting projects that changed the cryptographic primitives used by an existing projects to improve efficiency, gain additional security properties, etc. The Tor project also lists a large number of desired improvements here.
  • September 7th: Please note the schedule change due to today's guest speaker.
  • September 2nd: Sorry, for the late notice – I'm not feeling well, so office hours are cancelled today (9/2/2011). Please email me if you would like to meet, or come to office hours next week, which will be held as scheduled. Again, apologies for the late notice.
  • September 2nd: Please note that there are no office hours on Friday, September 16th, Wednesday October 19th, Friday October 23rd, Wednesday October 26th, Friday November 11th, or Wednesday November 16th. Please check back here for schedule changes.
  • September 1st: The deadline to sign up for paper presentations (September 9th) has been posted in the schedule. I will assign papers for those who do not sign up before the deadline.
  • August 26th: The assignment score breakdown has been posted in the syllabus. Numeric grades will appear in K-State Online as assignments are graded (in real time).
  • August 24th: The promised resources on how to read papers are up in the resources section.
  • June 20th: Class page posted; welcome!