Computer Security


Course Number: 
CSC 350
Danforth Tech 104
Date & Time: 
TR: 10:00AM - 11:50AM

Instructor: Dr. Scott Heggen
Office: Danforth Tech 110 (CPO 2188)
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 8:00AM - 10:00AM
Phone: (859) 985-3141


Course Description


Never has digital security been more integral to the success of business than today. With the complexity of systems comes complexity in standards for securing those systems. This course will explore the fundamentals of computer security, which serves as a foundation for new research, standards, protocols, and methodologies in today's digital world. Students should leave this course with a big picture understanding of computer security, including ways to secure themselves online, securing business processes, and securing infrastructure which supports businesses. 

Course Objectives

Explore the fundamentals of computer security, including: 

  • Understanding the historical context of today's computer security
  • Identify the different types of security and why they are different from each other
  • Demonstrate good security management
  • Apply methods for identification and authentication of users
  • Apply methods for controlling access to resources
  • Identify the key contributions and differences between different operating systems, specifically Windows and Unix-based systems
  • Apply methods of ensuring database security
  • Create secure software
  • Apply cryptography & key establishment protocols
  • Apply communications & network security protocols
  • Apply web security protocols
  • Explore the future of security as technology evolves

Course Agenda

Materials Online

Required Text and Materials

  • Introduction to Computer Security, Matt Bishop, Addison-Wesley, 2004. ISBN: 978-0-321-24744-5. Online version

  • The majority of the learning in this course will take place in doing the assigned computer work and other homework. Thus, the assignment descriptions themselves should prove a valuable resource.

  • Supplemental Text: Security Engineering, Ross Anderson, 2nd Edition, Wiley, 2008, ISBN: 0470068523. Available online here.

Technology Policies

Much of the work in this course will require use of the computer, so these policies are designed to help you better understand how to be effective in a technology-rich environment.

  • Laptop and Software: We will regularly make use of laptops during class, and you are expected to have them unless explicitly stated otherwise.
  • Unapproved Technology: We use our technology for work during class, not play. Keep your phones silenced, and out of sight. No excuses.
  • Communication: The course website is your primary source for information about the course; our Moodle site will be used for posting grades and assignment submission. Messages about the course will often be sent by email. Check your email often!
  • Backups: All students are expected to back-up their work on a daily basis, which includes laboratories, assignments, and quizzes. The best way to do this is to store a copy of all work in a cloud service such as Bitbucket, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, or to use a DVD, flash drive, or some other media. Storing multiple copies of something on your laptop is not a backup. I will not be sympathetic to lost work in any way, shape, or form.
  • Exceptions: Exceptions to any of these technology policies will be considered on an individual case-by-case basis but will only be granted under extreme circumstances.

Attendance Policy

Class lectures, discussions, and in-class work are considered to be a vital key to success in this course. It is the hope of the instructor that class sessions are both informative and useful. Therefore, attendance is expected at each class session unless a specific exception is made. If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Therefore, please do not come to class if you show flu-like symptoms. Instead, e-mail me from your room and go to health services immediately. When you return to class, bring paperwork showing that you sought medical attention that day and your absence will be excused. Students who arrive late, leave early, or fail to fully participate during the class will be considered absent for that portion of the period, and such partial absences will accumulate.

The final grade may be lowered by one half of a letter grade for each unexcused absence beyond the third. Thus, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the instructor about each absence from class. This should be done via email, as soon as possible, and if at all possible before the absence occurs. Students who miss class are held responsible for all of the material covered, assigned, and collected during their absence. 


You will be evaluated in this course on five different types of assignments: quizzes, in-class assignments, homework assignments, projects, and exams.


Quizzes will occur regularly in the course, and are intended to ensure you have read the material for the days lecture. They are not intended to test deep learning; they are to ensure you are prepared for each class. To prepare yourself for each quiz, you should read and understand the assigned reading.

Teamwork Assignments

Computer Scientists do not work alone. They work in teams, and they must be able to work together in a productive manner. To foster this habit, you will almost always work in pairs or larger groups in class. Teamwork assignments are intended to explore the content in more detail, and begin forming a deeper understanding of the day's topic.

Homework Assignments

Homework assignments are intended to build from the teamwork assignments. In homework assignments, you will be asked to apply the concept explored in class to a new, interesting problem.  


This course has two exams; one around midterm, one a few weeks before finals week. The exact dates will be announced on the course website and in class. 

Final Project

The details of the final project will be announced closer to the end of the semester. The final exam period will be used as a demo session, where each student will have the opportunity to present the results of their final project. 

Homework Late Policy

We all get busy... sometimes. Every homework assignment has a due date, which is listed on the course agenda. The VAST majority of your homework assignments should be turned in by that date. You'll notice that each assignment is left open for one week past the due date. Should no more than two assignments need to be turned in late, take advantage of that one week buffer, without penalty. However, abuse of this policy will result in a reduction in your grade by 10% for each day a homework assignment is late. 

This late policy applies to homework assignments only. Quizzes, teamworks, exams, and the final project are due on the date listed in the course agenda, and extensions will not be granted. 

Collaboration and Teamwork

When doing work that is collaborative in nature, it is essential that you cite your collaborators in all instances. Failure to do so could be construed as academic dishonesty.

I will make use of the institutional policies laid down regarding academic dishonesty. In the real world, plagiarism and claiming others' work as your own could result in you losing your job. Our goal is to support you in your learning, and copying the work of others (including inappropriately reusing work found on the Internet) never constitutes good learning. This includes borrowing images, music, and videos from the web which do not explicitly fall under a Creative Commons License. We will discuss this in more detail throughout the class. However, CITING YOUR WORK is always, always essential!

Grade Distribution

Final Project 25%
Exams (2x) 30%
Quizzes 10%
Assignments 20%
In-class Teamwork 15%

Grading Scale

The Berea College grading scale makes clear that:

  • An A represents excellent work,
  • A B represents good work, and
  • A C represents competent work.

Most work that any of us do is competent. I will communicate with you regularly about where you stand in the course, so that you can focus your efforts appropriately, however, you should always feel welcome to inquire about your grade.

  • An A is in the range of 91% to 100%
  • A B is in the range of 81% to 90%
  • A C is in the range of 71% to 80%
  • A D is in the range of 61% to 70%
  • An F is a grade of 60% or lower.

A plus may be earned through exceptional attendance, teamwork, professionalism and collegiality, and participation. A plus is completely at the discretion of the instructor.

Any questions regarding grades should never be directed at TAs, but instead always directed to the instructor of the course.

Class Atmosphere

In class, we discussed many of the aspects we felt would make a good environment for learning. Our expectations in this course include:

  • We will develop this section as a group on the first day of class.

Evening Lab / Support

The Computing and Digital Crafts Lab (Danforth 104) is open Sunday through Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 PM (except on evenings of convocations). Several TAs will be able to answer questions about the content in the course during consultations in their Lab hours. You are strongly encouraged to make use of the help available in the Computing and Digital Crafts Lab, as well as in the instructors' office hours. Best results are obtained trying to solve problems before asking for help, and you should be prepared to show what you have already tried. Topics in this course build throughout the course, so you should be sure to do your best to keep up with the class, so as to not fall behind. No question to which you do not know the answer is "dumb" unless it goes unanswered because it remained unasked.

Statement Regarding Disability

Berea College will provide reasonable accommodations for all persons with disabilities so that learning experiences are accessible. If you experience physical or academic barriers based on disability, please see Lisa Ladanyi (Disability & Accessibility Services, 111 Lincoln Hall, 859-985-3327, to discuss your options. Students must provide their instructor(s) with an accommodation letter before any accommodations can be provided. Accommodations will not be implemented retroactively. Please meet with your instructor(s) in a confidential environment to discuss arrangements for these accommodations.