Computer Science

System Security: COMPSCI 725, City Campus (S2 2019)

Calendar Prescription

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 15 technical articles during the first eight weeks of this paper.

During weeks 6-12, we'll be listening to student oral presentations on articles in our required list of readings.

The reading list for this course will be finalised at the beginning of week 3, after each student has selected their article for oral presentation. In addition to articles presented by students, the readings will include Lampson's classic article on Computer Security in the Real World which, as discussed in the first weeks of lecture, defines the terminology and conceptual basis for our subsequent discussions of systems security. Readings will also include our University's Student Academic Conduct Statute.

Tutorial sessions will be held during weeks 5 to 11. In each tutorial session, students will rehearse the oral presentation they will give in the following week. An instructor will offer feedback and suggest improvements.


Your oral presentation (10% of total marks) should be a coherent explanation of an advanced topic in software security, showing your careful reading and understanding of one professional publication. Your presentation should have a title slide, and a very brief (1-slide) summary of the article. The body of your presentation should identify one aspect of this article that is worthy of careful consideration by your classmates; it should briefly explain why this aspect is important; and it should discuss what this article has to say about this aspect. You must not explain what other publications, or other people, have to say about your article. Lecture slides from student oral presentations will be posted to the class website.

An in-class quiz (5% of total marks) will be administered immediately before the first student presentation of each article on the required reading list. Your lowest two quiz scores will be dropped.

Your written report (25% of total marks) should demonstrate your critical and appreciative understanding of a topic that is directly related to at least one of the required readings for this course. You may write on any topic that's supported by the required readings, i.e. you need not reference the article you presented orally.

Your final exam (60% of total marks) will assess your critical and appreciative understanding of the topics discussed in this course.

Plagiarism, Direct Quotation, and Paraphrase

The University of Auckland does not tolerate cheating, nor does it tolerate assisting others to cheat. The instructors will strictly enforce our University's Student Academic Conduct Statute which, as noted above, is a required reading for this course.

  • All internally-assessed work in this course (including oral-presentation slideshows) will be spot-checked for signs of plagiarism, using a variety of methods. Please note that you will not be awarded academic credit for your submission of anyone else's phrases, sentences, or graphics, unless make it clear that you are quoting or paraphrasing or adapting their work. Extensive copying or paraphrasing will be treated as an academic offense, unless the source is cited.
  • 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 cite your sources, but you show no understanding beyond an ability to cut-and-paste with some adjustment of phrasing or wording, then you will get a failing grade on this assignment.
  • If you show strong understanding of your topic through your appropriate quotation, paraphrase, adaptation and discussion of information gained from authoritative and cited sources, then you will get excellent marks.
Grammar and Spelling

Students will earn an "A+" in our course for demonstrating excellent technical understanding, even if their writing has grammatical errors.

We will award low marks, if errors in spelling or exposition make us unsure of a student's technical understanding.

We will deduct marks, if a student is careless with the spelling of technical words and acronyms.


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