Lecture Time/Location
Tuesday/Thursday 10:30am–11:50am, Earth Science 242
Amir Masoumzadeh (amasoumzadeh@albany.edu)
  • Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 4:30pm–5:30pm (UAB 422), or by appointment
Teaching Assistants
Sai Jyotsna Vykuntam (svykuntam@albany.edu)
  • Office Hours: Wednesday 12:30pm–1:30pm (HU 122), Friday 11am–12pm (HU 127), or by appointment

Course Overview

This course introduces students to the fundamental and technical problems surrounding computer security. The course reviews basic security concepts, design principles, and mechanisms. Throughout the course and based on hands-on exercises, students will develop an in-depth understanding of several vulnerabilities and corresponding countermeasures in system security, web security, and network security areas. Topics include privilege escalation, buffer overflow, race condition, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, packet spoofing, TCP attacks, and firewalls.

Student Learning Objectives / Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to


CSI 333 or ECE 233 (formerly ECE 333).

Additional Notes: You are expected to have a good understanding of operating systems and systems programming. You need to be familiar with Linux command line interface and be able to code in C. Also, general knowledge of discrete math and networking can be helpful.


Required Textbook: Wenliang Du, “Computer & Internet Security: A Hands-on Approach” (2nd/3rd Edition).

The chapter numbers in the schedule are based on the 2nd edition (ISBN-13: 978-1733003933, 2019) of the textbook. However, you can also use the 3rd edition (ISBN-13: 978-1733003940, 2022). The 3rd edition is slightly different (misses a few chapters and adds some new chapters).

Communication and Submissions

The course syllabus and schedule is available on the course webpage. Most of the tasks in this class will be handled via course GitHub organization including the distribution of notes, assignments, assignment submission, and feedback. You will be invited to join the organization in the first week of classes. We will also use Brightspace for announcements and for your grades.

Assessment and Grading

You will be assessed based on the following:

In-Class Exercises
You will work on small in-class exercises either individually or in teams. Submissions are only accepted at the designated time during class. Missing submissions (including due to absence) will result in not receiving the grade for the associated exercises. Up to 10% of exercises will be dropped from your grade calculation to accommodate unforeseen situations.
Lab Assignments
You will work on about 11 take-home lab assignments. Your lowest lab grade will be dropped from your grade calculation.
You will take a midterm exam (during the regular class sessions) and a final exam (during the final exam period).
Students taking CSI 524 are required to work on a final project. The final project is optional for students taking CSI 424. The requirements for the final project will be described in its corresponding GitHub repository.
Final Numerical Grade
Your final numerical grade will be a weighted combination depending on which section of the class you are taking:
Course In-Class Labs Project Exam 1 Exam 2
CSI 424 5% 45% Optional (+10%) 25% 25%
CSI 524 5% 25% 20% 25% 25%

The course is A-E graded. Conversion from the final numerical grade to the letter grade is based on cutoffs determined according to the grade distribution in the class. This results in more flexible and favorable grades compared to using a fixed conversion scale.


The following schedule is tentative and will be regularly updated. It is your responsibility to check the schedule regularly. The plus sign (+) means optional reading.

Week Topic/Reading Assignment
Module 1: Introduction
Aug22 Course Overview, Setup
Aug24 Basic Security Concepts lab01 (setup) due Aug31
Aug29 Basic Security Concepts (cont.), Security Policies
Aug31 Security Policies (cont.) lab02 (permissions) due Sep07
Module 2: Software Security
Sep05 Security Policies (cont.)
Sep07 SET-UID Programs
Sep12 SET-UID Programs (cont.), Environment Variables & Attacks lab03 (setuid) due Sep19
Sep14 Environment Variables & Attacks (cont.)
Sep19 Buffer Overflow Attack
Sep21 Buffer Overflow Attack (cont.) lab04 (bof) due Sep28
Sep26 Return-to-libc Attack
Sep28 Return-to-libc Attack (cont.) lab05 (ret2libc) due Oct05
Oct03 Race Condition Vulnerability
Oct05 Pre-midterm Review
Oct10 No Class (Fall Break)
Oct12 Midterm Exam
Module 3: Web Security
Oct17 Race Condition Vulnerability (cont.), Cryptography Basics
  • Textbook: Chapters 21.1-21.3, 23.1-23.3
lab06 (race) due Oct24
Oct19 Cryptography Basics
  • Textbook: Chapters 21.1-21.3, 23.1-23.3
Oct24 Cross Site Request Forgery Attack lab07 (csrf) due Nov02
Oct26 Cross Site Request Forgery Attack (cont.)
Oct31 Cross Site Scripting Attack lab08 (xss) due Nov07
Nov02 No Class ()
Nov07 SQL Injection Attack lab09 (sqli) due Nov14
Module 4: Network Security
Nov09 Packet Sniffing and Spoofing lab10 (packets)
Nov14 Attacks on TCP Protocol
Nov16 Attacks on TCP Protocol (cont.) lab11 (tcp)
Nov21 Domain Name System (DNS) lab12 (DNS)
Nov23 No Class (Thanksgiving Break)
Nov28 Final Review
Module 5: Misc. Topics
Nov30 Project Presentations
Dec08 Final Exam (Friday, Dec08, 10:30am-12:30pm)


No Late Submission (Except One Assignment)
Assignments will be released at least a week before their due date. You are highly recommended to study an assignment as soon as it becomes available. There will be ample opportunities to benefit from office hours and communication with me and the TAs before the due date. Assignments are due at 11:59pm on the day of their deadline. Submissions after due time will receive no points. However, in order to account for unforeseen situations, you can request to submit only one assignment late. In order for your late assignment to be graded, you must email the instructor to request a late submission before the deadline. You should note that a late-submission request may not be always accepted (e.g., when the solutions need to be discussed in class immediately after a submission). Therefore, you are recommended to submit a version of your solution before the deadline if your request has not been reviewed yet. You have up to 3 days to submit after the deadline if your late-submission request is approved. Also, note that you only have one such opportunity during the semester. Therefore, it is advised to leave that option for truly critical situations.
Review of Grades
Any issue regarding your grade in a specific assignment must be communicated to us no later than 5 business days after the posting day of the grades. There will be no re-grading after the 5-day period has passed.
Attending Classes
Class attendance is required for successful completion of this course.
Attending Exams
The midterm exam is given in regular hours of the class. The final exam will be during the final exam period. Tentative exam dates are given in the course schedule. Makeup exams will be given only for valid and verifiable extenuating circumstances (e.g., a major medical situation). It is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor at least a week ahead of the exam date and arrange to take a makeup exam at an alternate date/time. If an absence in exam is expected due to religious observance, the student is responsible to notify the instructor at least 30 days before the exam date. Otherwise, their request may not be granted. Makeup exams are not guaranteed and will be generally harder than the regular exams.
Academic Integrity
It is every student’s responsibility to become familiar with the standards of academic integrity at the University. Claims of ignorance, of unintentional error, or of academic or personal pressures are not sufficient reasons for violations of academic integrity. Any incident of academic dishonesty can result in no credit for the affected assignment and a report sent to the appropriate University authorities (e.g., Dean of Undergraduate Education or Graduate Studies). Repeated violations will result result a failing grade for the course.

For all assignments, you must submit your own work, except where collaboration is explicitly permitted or required. Providing your solutions to others or copying even parts of a solution is considered plagiarism. In projects/papers, you must properly cite any resources from which you borrow ideas and clearly distinguish them from your contributions.

Use of Electronic Devices
Computers or other electronic devices may be only used during class for note-taking, in-class exercises, or other class-related activities. You are not allowed to perform any unrelated tasks during class.
Students with Disabilities
Reasonable accommodation will be provided for students with documented disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring accommodation in this class, please notify the Disability Access and Inclusion Student Services (DAISS) (Campus Center 130, 518-442-5501). That office will provide me with verification of your disability, and will recommend appropriate accommodations. In general, it is your responsibility to contact me at least one week before the relevant activity to make arrangements.
Health and Well-Being
Your physical and mental health is very important. The university has several health services when you need them. In particular, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides free, confidential services including psychological counseling and evaluation for emotional, social, and academic concerns.

If your life or someone else’s life is in danger, please call 911. If you are in a crisis and need help right away, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Students dealing with heightened feelings of sadness or hopelessness, increased anxiety, or thoughts of suicide may also text “GOT5” to 741741 (Crisis Text Line).