After being taught for two years as a half-course (CO 445H), Advanced security is now being offered as a full course.


To do well in this course, you should ideally have maturity in both the mathematics of computer science and in the engineering of computer systems. This means that you should: have a good understanding of data structures and algorithms; be comfortable writing programs from scratch in C, Java, and a scripting language like Python or JavaScript; be comfortable writing and debugging assembly code; and be reasonably comfortable in a command-line Unix development environment (gdb, gcc, etc). You should also have a good understanding of computer architecture, operating systems, and computer networks. It would also help to know a bit about programming languages and compilers. It would also be helpful to be comfortable with web technologies such as HTML and JavaScript. Recommended (not required) prerequisites are CO331 (Web and network security) • CO211 Operating systems • CO212 Networks and Communications Related courses: • CO408H Privacy Enhancing Techniques • CO409 Cryptography• CO440 Software Reliability • CO470 Program Analysis.

Don't panic

Do not be scared if the list above seems a bit daunting: it is not likely that many of the enrolled students will have the "perfect" background in all of these topics. If you are missing a few of these skills, you should be able to learn them quickly, possibly with the assistance of our helpful TAs. You will need to learn things as you encounter them; this is a feature, not a bug. Most importantly, you should be eager to challenge yourself and learn!


This year, there will be only one required textbook for this course: Foundations of Security, Daswani, Kern, and Kesavan, ISBN 1-59059-784-2. This book should be available from the University bookstore and other retailers. Note, however, that there will be other handouts and supplementary reading materials that will be posted on the class schedule. You will need to read these before each class. These articles will often have a research focus, which frequently means that you will need to spend more some time on each, perhaps marking them up as you read. Please refer to these helpful guides on how to read research papers critically: link-1, link-2, link-3. Through these readings, you will be exposed to some topics that are "off the beaten path" and get more exposure to bleeding-edge research in computer security.

Course Staff

  • Dr. Ben Livshits, Instructor, (Reader, Department of Computing)
  • Dr. Soteris Demetriou, Instructor, (Lecturer, Department of Computing)
  • Daniel Perez, Course TA, (Ph.D. student, Department of Computing)


  • Time: Tuesday 11:00--13:00, Thursday 9:00--11:00 (first class is October 8th)
  • Room:: Tuesday: Huxley building 311 | Thursday: Huxley building 342

Class schedule

This schedule is subject to modification; please check back often...

# Date Description Reading Assessment
October 8, 2019
October 10, 2019
October 15, 2019
October 17, 2019
October 22, 2019
October 24, 2019
October 29, 2019
October 31, 2019
November 5, 2019
November 7, 2019
November 12, 2019
November 14, 2019
November 19, 2019
November 21, 2019
November 26, 2019


Paper summaries:

As part of the course, you'll be expected to submit three paper summaries for the papers -- you'll get to pick which papers you want to write the reviews for. This should be individual work. Check the calendar below for the paper review submission date. To help you with this, we provide a paper summary template, which you should fill out.

Assignment Type: Individual assignment. You can use Piazza to discuss papers.

Marks: The assignment is worth 8% of your grade.

Programming assignment:

We will ask you to put a black hat on to work on a hands-on coursework assignment. This aims to help you practice with reverse engineering Android apps and developing malware for Android. Reverse engineering is a useful technique for application analysis; understanding how malware work helps you better design defense systems (REMEMBER: a defense system is as strong as its adversary model). The coursework has a tutorial section to help you understand the Android app development tools, and a discovery-based section where you will use your creativity to demonstrate how a strong adversary can compromise Android users' privacy. The most creative attacks will earn black-hat bragging rights and a prize (TBA).

Assignment Type: Programming assignment with a report component. Undertaken in groups of up to 3 people.

Marks: The assignment is worth 8% of your grade.


You will have opportunities to interact in classroom discussions.

Marks: Participation is worth 4% of your grade.


You will be provided with sample questions to help you prepare for the exam. The final exam will be held on the week of December 9th to December 13th. The exact day and time will be posted on this website and announced on Piazza as soon as it is scheduled.

Your mark

  • 16% Coursework (including paper summaries)
  • 4% Course participation
  • 80% Final exam

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