CS 854 (Winter 2008) - Hot Topics in Computer and Communications Security

Location and time: MC 2036, TT 3-4:30pm
Instructor: Urs Hengartner
Office hours: Tuesday 4:30-5:30pm or by appointment
Paper reviews
Presentation reviews


Sept 5 - This course will be taught again in Winter 2009. Note that the course number will change to CS 858.

Course Description

Our increasingly networked world and the upcoming of new technologies, such as RFID, trusted computing, or electronic voting, raise many security challenges. The goal of this course is to make students aware of these challenges and to introduce them to current research in computer and communications security. Students will also learn basic principles in security and cryptography. The course assumes a basic knowledge of computers, networks, and distributed systems, but does not assume any prior knowledge of security or cryptography.


The instructor will give several introductory lectures devoted to basic principles of security and cryptography. In the following lectures, two students will each present a research paper and lead a short discussion on the paper. The presentation should be conference-style and take about 25 minutes, which will leave about 20 minutes for discussion. See the schedule for a list of the discussed topics and presenters. Each presenter should submit his/her slides before the lecture to the instructor.

All students should read the two assigned papers prior to a lecture and submit a short review for one of them. The reviews are before class on the day of the presentation of a paper. The (anonymized) reviews will be accessible by the other students.

Giving oral presentations is an important skill that grad students should train during graduate school. Feedback is essential for this training. Therefore, after every lecture, all students should submit a review for both presentations. The reviews are due at 5pm the day after a presentation. A presenter will have access to her/his (anonymized) reviews.


Students will work in groups of two on a project in which they will undertake novel privacy or security research. Possible ideas for projects will be mentioned in class. Students will have to submit a proposal, present their work in class at the end of the term, and write a workshop-quality report.


Paper presentations 25%
Paper reviews 15%
Class participation (including presentation feedback) 10%
Project 50%

Past Editions

Fall 2006