> Main

> Syllabus

> Schedule

> Project ideas

> External resources

> Cool stuff
CIS 890: Secure Networks and Distributed Systems

The goal of this course is to prepare students to build networked and distributed systems that guarantee various security properties. Some examples include confidentiality, authenticity, anonymity, availability, and many others. Some examples include confidentiality, authenticity, anonymity, availability, and many others. Multiple properties are usually combined in a single system, sometimes causing non-obvious interference with each other. This course will cover theoretical and applied work, both historical and recent, in the field of privacy- and anonymity-preserving communication systems, censorship-resistant systems, robust storage systems, and highly available systems. Material will be presented as lectures as well as student presentations of assigned papers. Those who are not presenting should submit a short (no more than one page) summary of the assigned paper, its strengths and weaknesses, and potential vulnerabilities, and be prepared to discuss the paper in class. There is a final project to put newly-acquired knowledge into practice, either by designing and/or building a novel system or by demonstrating, through exploitation, vulnerabilities in existing system(s) in a responsible manner (we will not be bringing down the Internet in this class!).

Knowledge and Skills Acquired:

  • Mastery of:
    • Historical perspectives in secure distributed system design
    • Past successes and mistakes in designing distributed systems with certain security properties, such as availability, access control, privacy, and anonymity
    • Security issues to be aware of when designing and implementing new distributed systems and/or protocols
  • Familiarity with:
    • Software and protocol design, rapid prototyping, and efficient implementation
    • Design and implementation of new secure distributed systems

Class meeting time (Nichols 236): M, W 2:30 - 3:45
My office hours (Nichols 316a): M, W 1:00 - 2:30, and by appointment
Email: eyv (at) ksu (dot) edu
Phone: 785.532.7944

Prerequisites (or instructor permission): Graduate or advanced undergraduate status. Ability to read and understand academic papers. Familiarity with very basic cryptography (e.g. CIS 553) and networking protocols (e.g. CIS 525). Familiarity with operating system concepts a plus (e.g. CIS 520). Familiarity with security concepts in general (e.g. CIS 551) a huge plus.

Evaluation: Paper summaries, presentations, participation, and final project.

Student Performance Expectations
The bulk of classroom time will consist of student presentation and discussion of historical and new papers in the field of distributed systems. Most class periods will consist of at least one student-presented paper, followed by discussion. Those who are not presenting should submit a short (no more than one page) summary of each assigned paper before class (more papers may be assigned than are actually presented, so there may be multiple reports due each class session even if fewer papers are being presented). The purpose of these summaries is to provide some evidence that you actually read the paper, but more importantly whether or not you understood it (there will be no points taken off for admitting you did not understand something! In fact, I encourage you to say what you did not understand so we can discuss it.), whether you thought it was good or bad, and whether you think the paper is weak. Do you have an idea for a better design of the same system? Let me know! Discuss in class.
Outside of class, students will be expected to work in small groups on their final project (once the topic has been established). You are all responsible for managing your own time, but if you run into setbacks or if you think you cannot finish, please let me know. My expectation is that final project reports should be first steps to publication-quality work.

Required texts: none
Recommended texts:

  • Security Engineering by Ross Anderson (1st or 2nd edition). Some sample chapters from the second edition, and the entire first edition, are available for free in electronic format here: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/book.html
  • Handbook of Applied Cryptography by Alfred J. Menezes, Paul C. van Oorschot and Scott A. Vanstone. The entire book is available for free in electronic format here: http://www.cacr.math.uwaterloo.ca/hac/

Academic Honesty
Kansas State University has an Honor and Integrity System based on personal integrity which is presumed to be sufficient assurance in academic matters one's work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor and Integrity System. The policies and procedures of the Honor System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning.
A component vital to the Honor and Integrity System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: "On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work."
The default in this class is that ALL work will be accomplished individually, UNLESS my permission is given in advance of an assignment/quiz/exam/take-home exam/final. If you are in doubt, please ask
A grade of XF can result from a breach of academic honesty. The F indicates failure in the course; the X indicates the reason is an Honor Pledge violation.
For more information, visit the Honor and Integrity System home web page at: http://www.ksu.edu/honor

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Any student with a disability who needs a classroom accommodation, access to technology or other academic assistance in this course should contact Disability Support Services (dss@k-state.edu) and/or the instructor. DSS serves students with a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety.
You can find more information on the Disability Support Services web page.

Expectations for Classroom Conduct
All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws, Article VI, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.
The bylaws for recent years can be found here.