Introduction to Computer Security Fall 2021

This course teaches the security mindset and introduces the principles and practices of computer security as applied to software, host systems, and networks. It covers the foundations of building, using, and managing secure systems. Topics include standard cryptographic functions and protocols, threats and defenses for real-world systems, incident response, and computer forensics. See the schedule for details.

Professors Adam Bates
Ling Ren
Office hours: Thu. 4:00pm–5:00pm Online Zoom
Prerequisites Credit in CS 241 or ECE 391
Lectures Tue./Thu.: 9:30am – 10:45am Online Zoom Classroom
Discussion Sections Wed. 10:00am–10:50am, 1103 Siebel Center for Comp Sci and Online Zoom Classroom
Wed. 11:00am–11:50am, 1105 Siebel Center for Comp Sci
Wed. 12:00pm–12:50pm, 1105 Siebel Center for Comp Sci
Wed. 01:00pm–01:50pm, 1105 Siebel Center for Comp Sci and Online Zoom Classroom
Wed. 02:00pm–02:50pm, 1105 Siebel Center for Comp Sci
Wed. 03:00pm–03:50pm, 1103 Siebel Center for Comp Sci and Online Zoom Classroom
TAs Austin Kuo
Paul Murley
Joshua Reynolds

Office Hours (MP4) --
Tue. 11/9, 7:00pm–9:00pm, Discord Only
Thur. 11/11, 7:00pm–9:00pm, Discord Only
Tue. 11/16, 7:00pm–9:00pm, Discord Only
Wed. 11/17, 5:00pm–7:00pm, Both in-person and on discord
Thur. 11/18, 7:00pm–9:00pm, Discord Only
Mon. 11/29, 5:00pm–7:00pm, Both in-person and on discord
Tue. 11/30, 7:00pm–9:00pm, Discord Only
Tue. 11/30, 9:00pm–11:00pm, Discord Only

Communications We will make use of the following communication methods during this course:
  • Lectures, Discussions, Office Hours: Zoom and Discord (links distributed via email)
  • Lecture and Discussion Recordings: Compass2g
  • Lecture and Discussion Slides: This website
  • Class Discussion Forum: Piazza
  • Exams, Quizzes, and Grades: Compass2g
  • MP Assignments: This website
  • MP Submission: You will submit assignments through your own Git repo in a course-semester GitHub organization, created by course staff.
For administrative issues, email to contact the course staff.
Reference Books No textbook is required, but if you would like additional references, we recommend:
Resources Security and Privacy Research at Illinois
Security Course Roadmap


We'll calculate your course grade based on these components:
Programming Projects 40% Four programming projects (10% each), completed in teams of two
Quizzes 10% Weekly assignments to check that you followed the week's lectures
Midterm Exam 25% One exam covering material in the first half of class
Final Exam 25% One exam covering all material from the course

Adapting to the COVID-19 Pandemic

CS 461 / ECE 422 will be offered in a hybrid mode this semester. We will continue to monitor the situation and may move activities online or in-person during the semester. To ensure that everyone follows along with the course in the (mostly) online format, we have made a variety of adjustments to the course material (since fall 2020).

Statement on Mental Health

Diminished mental health, including significant stress, mood changes, excessive worry, substance/alcohol abuse, or problems with eating and/or sleeping can interfere with optimal academic performance, social development, and emotional wellbeing. The University of Illinois offers a variety of confidential services including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, psychiatric services, and specialized screenings at no additional cost. If you or someone you know experiences any of the above mental health concerns, it is strongly encouraged to contact or visit any of the University’s resources provided below. Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do -- for yourself and for those who care about you.

Counseling Center: 217-333-3704, 610 East John Street Champaign, IL 61820

McKinley Health Center:217-333-2700, 1109 South Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801

Ethics, Law, and University Policies Warning

This course will include topics related computer security and privacy. As part of this investigation we may cover technologies whose abuse could infringe on the rights of others. As computer scientists, we rely on the ethical use of these technologies. Unethical use includes circumvention of an existing security or privacy mechanisms for any purpose, or the dissemination, promotion, or exploitation of vulnerabilities of these services. Any activity outside the letter or spirit of these guidelines will be reported to the proper authorities and may result in dismissal from the class and possibly more severe academic and legal sanctions.

Acting lawfully and ethically is your responsibility. Carefully read the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a federal statute that broadly criminalizes computer intrusion. This is one of several laws that govern “hacking.” Understand what the law prohibits — you don’t want to end up like this guy. If in doubt, we can refer you to an attorney.

Please review the Campus Administrative Manual (especially Policy on Appropriate Use of Computers and Network Systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) for guidelines concerning proper use of information technology at Illinois, as well as the Student Code (especially 1-302 Rules of Conduct, 1‑402 Academic Integrity Infractions). As members of the university, you are required to abide by these policies.

Academic Integrity

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Student Code should also be considered as a part of this syllabus. Students should pay particular attention to Article 1, Part 4: Academic Integrity. Read the Code at the following URL:

Academic dishonesty may result in a failing grade. Every student is expected to review and abide by the Academic Integrity Policy: Ignorance is not an excuse for any academic dishonesty. It is your responsibility to read this policy to avoid any misunderstanding. Do not hesitate to ask the instructor(s) if you are ever in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or any other breach of academic integrity.

Sale or Distribution of Lecture Notes or Course Materials

As documented by 1-302 Rules of Conduct of the student code, "No student shall sell, deliver or distribute copyrighted lecture notes or other course materials without the express permission of the copyright holder. An example of an infraction would include posting on a website or selling instructor copyrighted slides, lecture notes or other expressions fixed in a medium."

Disability-Related Accomodations

To obtain disability-related academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids, students with disabilities must contact the course instructor and the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) as soon as possible. To contact DRES, you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-4603, e-mail or go to If you are concerned you have a disability-related condition that is impacting your academic progress, there are academic screening appointments available that can help diagnosis a previously undiagnosed disability. You may access these by visiting the DRES website and selecting “Request an Academic Screening” at the bottom of the page.