Great Ideas in Computer Security and Cryptography

Freshmen Seminar

Fall 2014

The seminar will cover ten topics in computer security and cryptography: one idea per week. The course is mostly self contained, but some knowledge of programming and mathematical maturity will be very helpful.


Lectures: Tuesday, Thursday, 11:00-12:15, 420-050


The course will cover one topic (idea) per week. Please keep in mind that there are many more ideas in computer security that we will not get to in this seminar. Students are encouraged to take the more advanced security courses in their junior and senior years.

To keep things lively we will interleave topics in computer security and cryptography. Here is a tentative list of the ten 'ideas' we will discuss:

  1. Symmetric encryption and message integrity. Reading: pdf and pdf
  2. Exploiting data and control confusion (and defenses) Reading: pdf and pdf
  3. Key exchange and public key encryption Reading: pdf
  4. Malware: building and defending Reading: pdf
  5. Zero Knowledge protocols Reading: pdf
  6. Confinement, isolation, and Sandboxing Reading: pdf
  7. Cryptographic currencies and digital signatures Reading: pdf
  8. Denial of Service attacks Reading: pdf
  9. Cryptanalysis techniques: breaking ciphers Reading: none
  10. Network security protocols (TLS, DNSsec, and others) Reading: pdf