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Module details

CE235-5-SP: Computer Security

Year: 2015/16
Department: Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to year(s) of study:
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Comments: PreRequisite - For programming assignments, knowing programming is essential, preferably in Python.

Supervisor: Dr Alexei Vernitski  
Teaching Staff: Dr Alexei Vernitski  
Contact details: School Office, email: csee-schooloffice (non-Essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create full e-mail address), Telephone 01206 872770  

Module is taught during the following terms

Module Description

This course considers security as it relates to a single computer at an introductory level. Cryptography is introduced and the various scenarios that involve encryption and authentication are investigated. There will be practical work that will give students an opportunity to explore key security tools. The management and planning issues are covered in policy and risk management.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this module, students will be expected to be able to:

1. Identify and describe common security vulnerabilities.

2. Recommend security tools and procedures for specific attacks.

3. Describe the nature of malicious code and how it can spread, be identified and removed.

4. Compare the performance of various cryptographic schemes.

Outline Syllabus

Principles of security

-Confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA)

-Vulnerabilities, threats, controls

-Forensics and recovery of systems

Security tools

-Internal and external scanning

-Log file analysis

-Intrusion detection

Secure applications

-Common problems in applications

-Detailed example of stack based buffer overflow

Malware and malicious code

-Viruses, trojans, worms

-History and classification

-Anatomy of a virus and how viruses spread

-Identifying viruses and antivirus software


-Applications of encryption to computer security

-Types of encryption algorithms

-Examples of encryption algorithms commonly used

-Key and password management

- Hash functions, one way functions, examples

User authentication

-Methods of user authentication

-Biometric access control (e.g. fingerprint, iris etc.)

-Other techniques (e.g. smartcard)

Security policy

-Example security policy

Learning and Teaching Methods

Lectures and Labs


30 per cent Coursework Mark, 70 per cent Exam Mark

Progress Test: worth 10%, held in week 21; Programming assignment 1: worth 5%, submitted in week 18 Programming assignment 2: worth 5%, submitted in week 20 Programming assignment 3: worth 10%, submitted in week 22 (to be aligned with the labs, with each submission being, ideally, several hours after the lab)

Exam Duration and Period

2:00 hour exam during Summer Examination period.

Other information



  • Recommended reading
  • C.P.PFLEEGER, C., and S.L.PFLEEGER, Security in computing, any edition.
  • A detailed book that the course uses to describe the general principles and risk analysis.
  • Computer Security by Dieter Gollman (any edition)
  • Introduction to Cryptography and Network Security, Behrouz Forouzan

Further information

External Examiner Information

  • Name: Dr Nathan Gomes
  • Institution: The University of Kent
  • Academic Role: Reader in Broadband Communications

Should you have any queries about the Module Directory pages, please contact the Course Record Team, Systems Administration Office, Academic Section; email: crt (non Essex users should add @essex.ac.uk)