Instructor Patrick McDaniel (mcdaniel 'at' cse.psu.edu)
Location IST 223B
Meeting Times Mon 3:00pm-5:00pm
Credits 3
Office Hours Prof. McDaniel: by appointment

This by permission course provides an overview of hot topics in applied system security. Topics studied include data provenance, web systems security, mobile phone systems, and information flow systems. This course content will be directed toward developing a publication quality paper in the topic areas. No tests or other projects will be assigned.

Note: Admittance to this course is by permission of course instructor only. Students should have completed CSE543 with at least a B+ grade. Experience in performing research in security is highly recommended.

A detailed list of lecture by lecture contents, assignments, and due dates (subject to change as semester evolves) is available on the course schedule. Most of the course readings will come from seminal papers in the field. Links to these papers will be provided on the course pages.


The course will be graded on exams, quizzes, assignments, projects, and class participation in the following proportions:

65% Course Project
10% Project Reviews
15% Course Lectures
10% Class Participation

Course Project

The course project will develop a publication quality paper in the topic areas. Proposal projects will be discussed in class after the introductory material is completed. Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a single semester. However, the work should reflect real thought and committed effort. The grade will be based on the following factors: novelty, depth, robustness, coolness, and demonstrated effort. Project teams will be allowed, though single authored works are strongly preferred. I will advise each team/individual independently as needed. The project grade will be a combination of grades received for a number of milestone artifacts and the final project.

Project Reviews

The course will require each student to perform peer reviews of the other projects in the class. Paper reviews will occur in two rounds, where in the second round the papers will be re-reviewed. A review template can be found here.

Course Lectures

Each student will be required to present 1-3 lectures of a paper assigned to the class, depending on the course enrollment. Students should prepare a detailed lecture complete with detailed slides. The slides will be distributed via the website. The course instructor will provide additional details on the first day of class. All presenters must use the course template for either keynote or powerpoint. Linux folks can use the powerpoint template with Open Office if they choose.

Class Participation

Course lectures will be driven by the contents of assigned papers. Students are going to be required to participate in discussions of the paper content during each lecture. Hence, the students ability to exhibit comprehension of papers is essential to a passing grade. Students failing to do the reading on a regular basis will be removed from the class.

Academic Integrity Policy

Students are required to follow the university guidelines on academic conduct at all times. Students failing to meet these standards will automatically receive a 'F' grade for the course. The instructor carefully monitors for instances of offenses such as plagiarism and illegal collaboration, so it is very important that students use their best possible judgement in meeting this policy. The instructor will not entertain any discussion on the discovery of an offense, and will assign the 'F' grade and refer the student to the appropriate University bodies for possible further action.

Note that students are explicitly forbidden to copy anything off the Internet (e.g., source code, text) for the purposes of completing an assignment or the final project. Also, students are forbidden from discussing or collaborating on any assignment except were explicitly allowed in writing by the instructor.

Ethics Statement

This course considers topics involving personal and public privacy and security. As part of this investigation we will cover technologies whose abuse may infringe on the rights of others. As an instructor, I rely on the ethical use of these technologies. Unethical use may include circumvention of existing security or privacy measurements for any purpose, or the dissemination, promotion, or exploitation of vulnerabilities of these services. Exceptions to these guidelines may occur in the process of reporting vulnerabilities through public and authoritative channels. Any activity outside the letter or spirit of these guidelines will be reported to the proper authorities and may result in dismissal from the class.

When in doubt, please contact the course professor for advice. Do not undertake any action which could be perceived as technology misuse anywhere and/or under any circumstances unless you have received explicit permission from Professor McDaniel.

Course Updates

[5/16/2010] Welcome to CSE598d - Topics in Applied System Security! The class website is now setup. Students are encouraged to review these page and start reading the assigned readings before the first day in class.

[9/3/2010] Because Monday the 6th is a holiday, we will be meeting over lunch on 08/09 (12-2pm). Please read the incomplete manuscript on writing a security paper.