Computer Science

System Security: COMPSCI 725, City Campus (S2 2017)


Data security: confidentiality, integrity, availability. System security: prohibitions, permissions, obligations, exemptions. The gold standard of dynamic security: authentication, authorisation, audit. Governance: specification, implementation, assurance. Three-layer defence: prevention, detection, response. Control modalities: architectural, economic, legal, normative. System-centric analyses: attacks, threats, vulnerabilities, information flows. Owner-centric analyses: functionality, security, trust, distrust. Data obfuscation, tamper resistance. System designs.

Recommended Preparation

Two of the following courses: COMPSCI 313, 314, 320, 335, 340, 351, 734, 742.

Learning Activities

Students will read approximately 30 technical articles during the first eight weeks of this paper, and selected chapters from Mark Stamp, Information Security: Principles and Practice, Wiley, 2011. These readings will be the basis of our in-class discussions.

Tutorial sessions will be held during weeks 5 to 11. Times and rooms will be arranged in the second week of classes. Students will be awarded 1 mark for rehearsing their oral presentation in a tutorial session in the week before they are scheduled to present it in the classroom. The instructor will offer feedback and suggest improvements.


Your oral presentation (15% of total marks) must be a coherent explanation of an advanced topic in software security, showing your careful reading and understanding of one professional publication. Lecture slides from student oral presentations will be posted to the Assignments area of the class website.

Your written report (25% of total marks) must demonstrate your critical and appreciative understanding of at least three professional publications, at least one of which must be a required reading for this course. You must also cite and (at least briefly) discuss any other required class readings that are closely related to the topic of your written report.

Plagiarism, Direct Quotation, and Paraphrase

We follow departmental guidelines and University policies on academic honesty.

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting his or her learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the world-wide web. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against electronic source material using computerised detection mechanisms. Upon reasonable request, students may be required to provide an electronic version of their work for computerised review. The University cheating policy, and some discussion of quotation and paraphrase, is available at

The departmental guidelines on academic honesty are available at Students in CompSci 725 should take particular note of the following passages: "... The Computer Science Department uses many ways to check that the work students submit for marking is their own and was not produced by, or copied from, someone else... may be used on essays and reports. This detects similarity to online material and submitted works in its own database... All assignments deemed to be too similar are automatically allocated a zero mark. All students who submitted these assignments are entered in the duplicate assignment register. [Students] ... may be referred to the University Disciplinary Committee. ..."

In this class, we will discuss plagiarism, quotation, and paraphrase, both in the theoretical context of intellectual property, and also in the practical context of academic writing for our class assignments. If you accurately cite the source of your direct quotations or close paraphrases, you cannot be accused of plagiarism. However submitting someone else's work or ideas is not evidence of your own understanding of the material, and such submissions will not earn you marks.

We will give some general advice on the appropriate use of direct quotation and paraphrase. We also teach a few other "tricks of the trade" in technical writing, because in prior years we have found that few of our entering students are highly skilled in academic writing.

Students may earn an "A+" in our course, even if they turn in work with minor grammatical errors. Major grammatical errors may cause us to misunderstand the author's intent, and we will assign low marks when we are not sure of a student's understanding of the material they are presenting in their report. Students should take special care with the spelling of technical terms, especially acronyms, for an incorrect spelling can cause great confusion in the mind of a reader who thinks the author is referring to some other technical term with a similar spelling! Passing marks are given only when a student's work clearly demonstrates their understanding of the software security technologies, techniques, and analyses discussed in this course.


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