Course Information

Instructor William Enck (enck 'at'
Location 1228 EBII
Meeting Times Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:20pm-6:35pm
Credits 3
Office Hours Prof. Enck: Tuesdays 4-5pm and by appointment
Textbook This class will be based on assigned readings of scientific papers
Prerequisites Computer and Network Security (e.g., CSC574) or Consent of Instructor

Course Description

This paper-based seminar course considers the design of current smartphone operating systems and methods for securing them. The seminar will be driven by student-led roundtable discussions of papers. Building on knowledge gained in class, students will work on research projects in groups and complete a conference-like paper at the end of the semester. Students will also investigate the architecture and security models of Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry.

Policies and Logistics


Made via email to the course list. You are responsible for reading each announcement carefully.

Grading components

Smartphone OS Report15%
Class participation25%
Paper critiques10%

Grading semantics

The following provides an idea of my expectations for your course grade at the end of the semester.

A+ Excellent, top-conference caliber project work, active in class discussions
A Excellent project work, active in class discussions
A- Excellent project work, borderline active in class discussions, or
Good project work, active in class discussions
B+ Excellent project work, inactive in class discussion, or
Good project work, borderline active in class discussions, or
Fair project work, active in class discussions
B Fair project work, borderline active in class discussion
B- Poor project work, active in class discussions
C Poor project work, borderline active in class discussions

Critiques will be graded as "satisfactory", "satisfactory –", and "satisfactory +". The grading rubric on Moodle provides examples of critiques for each of these grades. Critiques must be satisfactory on average to pass the class.

Paper critiques

We will discuss one or two papers every class. Critiques are due by noon the day of class. The critique for each paper should include: a 3-4 sentence summary, and four critiques. There must be at least 1 positive and at least 2 negative critique.

Identify each strength and weakness and write a couple of sentences on each. Claims must be accompanied by supporting arguments. For instance, think about adding the following after a claim: "For example, ...".

Critiques must be submitted via Moodle, before the noon deadline and these will be spot checked throughout the semester. Use the class Latex critique template.

Late critiques?

Manage your time well, and start early!

To accommodate for unavoidable circumstances, you get four automatic 1-day extensions for individual paper critiques without having to ask me for an extension. Finally, your lowest 6 individual paper critiques grades will be dropped. Use these freebies wisely—save them for circumstances such as falling ill or interviewing. Note, that if you cannot make class, you should still submit paper critiques.

Paper moderating

Assigned moderators will make a brief (5-minute) presentation at the beginning of the discussion. The template for this presentation is available in the Resources section on Moodle.

Papers will be discussed "seminar-style" with breakout roundtable discussions for about 10 minutes, followed by a 15-minute "all hands" discussion.

OS Reports

See OS Reports.


See Projects.

Honor code

In short: Give credit where it's due and don't plagiarize. Don't copy or read others' solutions. Remember, when you cheat, you cheat yourself above all else.

NCSU's Honor Code and policies apply to your conduct in this course.

You may discuss papers with other students in the course or with me. However, you may not read or copy anybody else's critiques—all submitted work must be your own, based on your own understanding of the content after such discussions. In particular, you may not read solutions for assignments on the Web (including websites for previous terms, inside or outside of NCSU).

Credit your sources. In your assignments, list all your collaborators (e.g., "I discussed this homework with Alice, Bob, ...") and credit any sources (including software) used. You must also credit sources that are permitted by the instructor. For example, you must credit code that we give you if it helps you with your work (either by direct use of the code, or by simply enhancing your understanding by reading the code).

Violations of the Honor Code will be treated seriously. Please let me know if you have any questions—better to be safe than sorry!

Special accommodations

Please let me know before the end of the second week of the term if you have any disabilities and would like me to make appropriate accommodations. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Student Accessibility Services office may be consulted to discuss appropriate implementation of any accommodation requested.

Religious observances

I realize that some students may wish to take part in religious observances that fall during this academic term. Should you have a religious observance that conflicts with your participation in the course, please come speak with me before the end of the second week of the term to discuss appropriate accommodations.


Special thanks to Apu Kapadia for suggesting the course format and providing an initial template.

Course Updates

[12/28/2011] The course syllabus has been updated to reflect new course structure and assignments.

[09/30/2011] The initial course syllabus has been posted.