Course Details

Course CSC/ECE 774 - Advanced Network Security, Spring 2020
Meeting Location 1226 Engineering Building 2
Meeting Times Fridays 1:30 PM - 4:15 PM
Credits 3
Instructor Prof. Brad Reaves
Email bgreaves -at- (Include “[CSC 774]” in subject)
Office 3256 EB2
Phone 919.513.7835
Office Hours Fridays 4:15 - 5:15pm (Immediately after class)
Final Exam Period TBD

Course Prerequisites

Formal: You must have taken CSC/ECE 574 or equivalent, as well as CSC 401 or CSC 570 or equivalent. If you do not meet these prerequisites, discuss with the instructor.

Informal: You need to understand (1) IP networks, (2) modern operating systems (e.g., Windows, Linux), (3) discrete mathematics, (4) basics of systems theory and implementation (e.g., file systems, distributed systems, networking, operating systems, etc.). (5) fundamentals of computer security. If you do not have a basic understanding of these areas, you will have difficulty with the course. If you have questions regarding these prerequisites, please contact the instructor.


Computer networks have revolutionized our society and are quickly becoming an essential infrastructure for all aspects of modern life. This makes questions of the security of networks of paramount importance. However, most signs indicate that despite significant advances to address this issue, security remains far below what society needs from its networks.

In this course, we will examine questions of network security — problems and solutions — through the lens of recently published research on network security. In the first half of the course, we will focus on reading and critically examining research in network security. In the second half of the course, students will pursue their own research project, culminating in a complete conference paper suitable for submission.

Topics will be chosen collaboratively by the students and instructor, but are likely to include some or all of the following: classic results in network security, security issues with core networking protocols (e.g., BGP, OSPF, DNS, TCP/IP), authentication, blockchains, FinTech, IoT, network applications, privacy, anonymity, censorship, software defined networking, cryptography, and Internet maliciousness.

A detailed list of lecture by lecture contents, assignments, and due dates (subject to change as semester evolves) will be available on the course schedule.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify some important attacks in network security
  • Explain, compare, and use some of the successful defenses
  • Know the most important conferences and journals for network security research
  • Summarize and explain orally a research idea / contribution in a clear and appealing way
  • Critique published research
  • Identify some of the current trends and open problems in network security research
  • Define a network security research problem and justify it
  • Do research in network security using proper methodology
  • Write your ideas and results in a clear, technically appropriate way

Textbooks and Reading Material

This course has no textbook. Readings will come from recent network security research papers. In the first half of the course, you should expect to read and review three papers per class period.

Course Structure and Grading

The course will consist of two parts. In the first portion of the class, the focus will be on exposure to and analysis of recent research in network security. The deliverables for this portion will include 2 presentations of published research papers (done in groups of 1 or 2) and short “mini-reviews” for each paper.

In the second portion of the class, we will be entirely focused on conducting novel research. Our in-class activities will consist of project discussions and exercises to help with writing, experiment design, and other concerns.

Your grade will be determined as follows:

  • 20% Paper Presentations
  • 15% Mini-Reviews
  • 15% Participation
  • 50% Class Project

The final letter grade will be based on the final percentage as follows:

A+ <= 97% < A <= 93% < A- <= 90% < B+ <= 87% < B <= 83% < B- <= 80% < C+ <= 77% < C <= 73% < C- <= 70% < D+ <= 67% < D <= 63% < D- <= 60% < F

REG 02.50.03 describes the grade point interpretation of letter grades.

Paper Presentations: Students will present two assigned papers over the course of the class and lead a discussion. The expectation is that these presentations will be high quality, informed, insightful, and interesting.

Mini Reviews: Students are expected to read relevant papers before coming to class. Students should complete and submit a mini-review sheet for each paper on Moodle. The intent is that each should take about 5 minutes to fill out for each paper. These are due before class, and will not be graded if submitted late. As a grace, up to 6 missed mini-reviews will automatically be excused. Mini reviews will be graded for “earnest completion.” Mini-review forms can be found here.

Course Project: The course project requires that students execute research in systems security. The result of the project will be a complete research paper formatted for submission to a workshop of conference. Project topics will be discussed in class about 25% of the way through the class. Be realistic about what can be accomplished in a single semester. However, the work should reflect real thought and effort — projects executed in the closing days of the semester are unlikely to be well received. The grade will be based on the following factors: novelty, depth, correctness, clarity of presentation, and effort.

Class Participation: Enthusiastic, intentional class participation is an essential element of this course. To do well in this course, students must take active and regular roles in discussion and demonstrate comprehension of the reading themes. Students are required to do the assigned reading before class. This will be monitored by the instructor.

Devices Students are encouraged to use computing devices during class in ways that facilitate their learning and do not distract others. However, using devices for activites not related to the class (including excessive off-topic browsing, social media, or for out-of-class assignments) will result in poor participation grades.

Grading Concerns Timely and informative feedback is an essential element of effective education, and the instructional staff makes every effort to fairly and accurately grade every assignment and exam. If a student believes that a grading error has been made, they should contact the instructional staff by email clearly and objectively detailing the error and how the student believes it should be corrected. Grading corrections will not be made without a request in writing. While we are happy to correct honest errors, note that in the case of a grade dispute, the instructional staff reserves the right to regrade an entire assignment.

Weekly Course Schedule

See the course schedule. Note that the schedule is subject to change as the semester evolves.

Assignment Lateness Policy

Assignment deadlines will be hard. Mini-reviews submitted after class will not be graded. Other assignments, where applicable, will be assessed a 20% per-day late penalty, with a maximum of 3 days. Unless the problem is apocalyptic, excuses will not be effective in reducing the penalty. Students with legitimate reasons who contact the professor before the deadline may apply for an extension. The default deadline for assignments is 5pm, except for mini-reviews, which are due before class.

Attendance Policy

Perhaps more than other classes, regular attendance is critical for meeting the learning objectives of the The instructor will not take any formal attendance for class meetings, but participation will be closely monitored. Students with poor attendance will receive poor attendance grades.

The university policy on excused absences will be observed (see REG 02.20.03). Late submission of assignments due to excused absences is not subject to the policies on late assignments (including mini-reviews).

Academic Integrity Policy

Students in this class are welcome and strongly encouraged to discuss assignments outside of class, including to have other students review and provide feedback on all aspects of presentations or project progress. However, the actual work of the assignment should be done by the assigned parties. Mini-reviews should be completed individually before class. Students are explicitly forbidden from copying the work of others (with or without superficial modification). This includes Internet or text sources for code or prose.

My experiences with NC State students so far have lead me to believe that nearly every student is honorable, and I have every reason to believe that the students in this course will complete assignments in an honest fashion.

However, should an incident arise where I believe academic misconduct has occured, the university, college, and department policies against academic dishonesty will be strictly enforced. You may obtain copies of the NCSU Code of Student Conduct from the Office of Student Conduct. The instructor has a zero tolerance policy for violations of academic integrity. which include but are not limited to plagiarism and illegal collaboration. If a student is in doubt about the conduct of themselves or others, the instructor welcomes questions about this policy. In this case, it is far better to ask permission, as there will not be forgiveness of academic misconduct. The penalties for academic misconduct will include assigning at least a negative grade and refering the student to the appropriate University bodies for possible further action.

It is the understanding and expectation of instructor that the student’s signature on any assignment means that the student neither gave nor received unauthorized aid. For additional information, visit

Ethics Statement

This course considers topics involving personal and public privacy and security, and this course covers topics concerning the security of many systems that are widely deployed and potentially critical. As part of this course, we will investigate methods, tools and techniques whose use may negatively impact the rights, property and lives of others. As security professionals, we rely upon the ethical use of the above technologies to perform research. However, it is easy to use such tools in an unethical manner. Unethical use includes the circumvention of existing security or privacy measurements for any purpose, or the dissemination, promotion, or exploitation of vulnerabilities of these services.

This is NOT a class on hacking. Any activity outside of the spirit of these guidelines will be reported to the proper authorities both within and outside of NC State and may result in dismissal from the class and the University. Exceptions to these guidelines may occur in the process of reporting vulnerabilities through the proper channels; however, students with any doubt should consult the instructor for advice. DO NOT conduct any action which could be perceived as technology misuse anywhere or under any circumstances unless you have received explicit permission from the instructor.

When in doubt, please contact the course professor for advice. Do not undertake any action which could be perceived as technology misuse anywhere and/or under any circumstances unless you have received explicit permission from the instructor.

Resources for Support

The instructor’s goal is to help students gain a clear understanding of the course material, to foster a deep interest in the topic of computer security, and develop the basic research skills essential to a career at the frontiers of technology. With security, the devil is often in the details, and crucial understanding often relies on subtleties. Accordingly, it is natural for students to struggle both with the content of this course and with requisite background material.

To this end, the instructional staff are providing a number of mechanisms for support. These include:

  • Piazza The course will feature a Piazza message board, available here. This should be your first go-to resource for any questions about course structure, deadlines, class material, or anything else that could possibly be relevant to other students. Note that active participation in Piazza will enhance your participation grade. The instructional staff receives emails from Piazza, so any questions posted to Piazza will be addressed as fast or faster than those sent by email. Piazza will be the main form of out-of-class communication.

  • Office Hours The instructor will hold office hours weekly. Students are highly encouraged to come to office hours with the instructor to discuss doubts about course material, concerns about course performance, consult on the course project, or to discuss computer security beyond what can be discussed in class. No appointment is needed to attend office hours. The instructor is also available by appointment outside of office hours when meeting is impractical.

  • Email The instructional staff strongly requests that you limit individual emails to communications regarding private questions (like grade concerns), appointment and make up exam requests, and other communications that are not suitable for Piazza. Note that emails that are of a general nature will be posted anonymously to Piazza on a student’s behalf. To ensure that student emails receive a high priority, students should place the string “[CSC 774]” somewhere in the subject line.

If at any time you have constructive suggestions about how to improve the course, feel free to share them with the instructor during office hours or via an email.

Statement on Identity

I make an effort to treat all of my students with respect, and an important part of that is correctly addressing students with correct names and pronouns. If you would like to be called by a different name or pronoun other than what is in the directory, let me know (in person or email). Also, if I mispronounce your name, please let me know – it is not intentional!

Statement on transportation

Students have to provide their own transportation for any and all class related trips.

Statement on safety and risk assumption

This course does not require activities that pose physical risk to students.

Statement for students with disabilities

Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with verifiable disabilities. In order to take advantage of available accommodations, students must register with Disability Services for Students at 1900 Student Health Center, Campus Box 7509, 919-515-7653. For more information on NC State’s policy on working with students with disabilities, please see the Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities Regulation (REG 02.20.01).

Statement on Class Evaluation

Online class evaluations will be available for students to complete during the last 2 weeks of the semester for full semester courses and the last week of shorter sessions. Evaluations then become unavailable at 8am on the first day of finals.

I highly value student responses, and make changes to classes every semester based on student feedback.

Non-discrimination Policy

NC State provides equal opportunity and affirmative action efforts, and prohibits all forms of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation (“Prohibited Conduct”) that are based upon a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, gender identity, genetic information, sexual orientation, or veteran status (individually and collectively, “Protected Status”). Additional information as to each Protected Status is included in NCSU REG 04.25.02 (Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaint Procedure). NC State’s policies and regulations covering discrimination, harassment, and retaliation may be accessed at or Any person who feels that he or she has been the subject of prohibited discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should contact the Office for Equal Opportunity (OEO) at 919-515-3148.

N.C. State University Polices, Regulations, and Rules (PRR)

Students are responsible for reviewing the PRRs which pertain to their course rights and responsibilities. These include: Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy Statement, Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, Code of Student Conduct, and Grades and Grade Point Average.