CS 858, Fall 2016: Mobile Privacy and Security (MoPS)

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Many people carry a smartphone with them all the time. A smartphone has many sensors, which it can use to collect potentially sensitive information about its owner, such as voice or location data. In addition, users can install their own apps on their smartphone. Some of these apps may access sensitive information and forward it to third parties without the consent of the smartphone owner, which violates user privacy. Some applications may be malicious, leading to security problems. The goal of the MoPS course is to make students aware of the security and privacy challenges raised by smartphones and of possible defenses against these challenges.

The course assumes a basic knowledge of computers, networks, and distributed systems, but does not assume any prior knowledge of security or cryptography.

Paper Presentations

In every lecture, two students will each present a research paper and lead a short discussion on the paper. All students are expected to present two papers throughout the course. The presentation should be conference-style and take about 25 minutes, which will leave about 15 minutes for discussion. The presenter should be prepared with sufficient background knowledge of the related works in the area to answer broad questions and lead the class discussion. See the reading list for a list of the discussed topics. Each presenter should email his/her slides to the instructure before the lecture. A presenter may borrow, with attribution, figures and animations, but the slides should be created independently.

Giving oral presentations is an important skill that graduate 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. (A presenter does not need to review his/her own presentation.) The review should answer some specific questions about the presentation. The reviews are due at 12pm the day after a presentation. A presenter will have access to her/his (anonymized) reviews.

Paper Reviews

All students should read the two assigned papers prior to a lecture and submit a short review for one of them. The review should answer some specific questions about the paper. The reviews are due before class on the day of the presentation of a paper. The (anonymized) reviews will be accessible by the other students. The student presenting a paper should also write a review for it.


Paper presentations 25%
Paper reviews 20%
Class participation (including presentation feedback) 15%
Project 40%


  • Lecture time: Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-4:20pm
  • Location: DC 2568
  • Instructor: Urs Hengartner (email: firstname.lastname@uwaterloo.ca)
  • Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 10-11am or by appointment
  • Discussion Forum on Piazza

Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity: In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. All members of the UW community are expected to hold to the highest standard of academic integrity in their studies, teaching, and research. The Office of Academic Integrity's website contains detailed information on UW policy for students and faculty. This site explains why academic integrity is important and how students can avoid academic misconduct. It also identifies resources available on campus for students and faculty to help achieve academic in integrity out and of the classroom.

Grievance: A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70 - Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4.

Discipline: A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offenses, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offense, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offenses (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about “rules” for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course professor, academic advisor, or the Undergraduate Associate Dean. When misconduct has been found to have occurred, disciplinary penalties will be imposed under Policy 71 – Student Discipline. For information on categories of offenses and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71 - Student Discipline.

Avoiding Academic Offenses: Most students are unaware of the line between acceptable and unacceptable academic behaviour, especially when discussing assignments with classmates and using the work of other students. For information on commonly misunderstood academic offenses and how to avoid them, students should refer to the Faculty of Mathematics Cheating and Student Academic Discipline Policy.

Appeals: A student may appeal the finding and/or penalty in a decision made under Policy 70 - Student Petitions and Grievances (other than regarding a petition) or Policy 71 - Student Discipline if a ground for an appeal can be established. Read Policy 72 - Student Appeals.

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