Recent Advances in Computer Security and Privacy, Spring 2021

Instructor: Ning Zhang,
Meeting: Mon/Wed 10:00 - 11:20AM
Classroom: Zoom Link in Canvas
Office Hour: Wednesday 2:00 - 3:00PM
Slack: Join here
Schedule: Schedule here


Course Description

In this class, students will learn about the latest research developments in two main areas software/system security and cyber-physical security. Topics in software security focus on attack and defense in application-level software, while system security focuses on attack and defense in system software and hardware. Cyber-physical security studies new security problems interfacing cyber world and physical world. The goal of this class is to prepare students to conduct research in the area of cyber-physical security. Evaluation will be based on class discussion and research project.

Recommended Pre-req:
- CSE 361S, CSE 433S, CSE 523S, CSE 571S
- Feel free to join the class without pre-req as long as you are willing to pick up the system knowledge in the first several weeks of the class.


There is no textbook for the class. We will use research papers for some of the topics.


This is a project-based class. There is no mid-term or final exam in this class.

Class Discussion Lead 20 %
Scribe 5 %
Lab 10 %
Quiz/Survey 5 %
Paper Critique 10 %
Project - Proposal 10 %
Project - Mid-term 15 %
Project - Final 25 %


Schedule can be found here


Students in group 3 - 5 will work on a semester long project to conduct original research in Computer Security. You can either come up with an idea of your own or to work on a well-defined idea we already have. There are three check points in the project.

1. Project Idea Submission
At this point, you should have well defined problem, for example, I want to use laser to sense vibration on window to evesdrop conversation from protected physical space. You should also know how it is current done in the literature. For example, research A has done this but they observe that environmental factor can significantly impact the accuracy. You should also have a good general idea how you would like to approach this problem. For example, you will develop different models based on the environmental factor to compensate for the signal distortion.

2. Project Midterm
At this point, you should have done most of the preliminary investation and coding, and probably trying to solve some of the challenges or reajusting the initial goal.

3. Final Project
At the end, a research paper should be written up (6-10 pages), this is due half a week before the final grades are due.


With greater power, comes greater responsibility. In this course, we will be learning about and exploring some vulnerabilities that could be used to attack systems. Students are expected to behave responsibly and ethically. You may not attack any system prior approval of the site owners, and may not use anything you learn in this class to disrupt services or harm others. If you have any doubts about whether or not something you want to do is ethical and legal, you should check with the course instructor.

Advanced Topics in Computer Security, Spring 2021, Ning Zhang