Computer Security Concepts


COMP 435, Fall 2023
MW 2:05–3:20 P.M.
Genome Sciences Rm 010


Prof. Cynthia Sturton

TAs & LAs

Kaki Ryan


course schedule, announcements, Q&A
labs, exams, grades
Poll Everywhere:
in-class discussion, quizzes
queuing for office hours

Course Description

Building secure systems is the responsibility of all computer scientists, not just a few security specialists. To that end, the goal of this course is for students to develop a security mindset—an outlook that requires questioning every assumption and asking how that assumption may weaken security. Along the way, students will learn the security policies that matter for different systems and application domains, how attackers can and have thwarted those policies, sometimes in surprising ways, and what steps computer scientists and engineers can take to improve the security of the systems they design. The course will cover aspects of security ethics and privacy and will incorporate discussion of related events in the news.

This class is meant for computer science students who wish to develop literacy in foundational computer security topics. The prerequisites are (COMP 401, 410, and 411) or (COMP 210, 211, and 301). Students who have already taken Introduction to Computer Security (COMP 535) should not enroll in this class.


Make CampusWire your point of entry for the course. Announcements, the weekly schedule, and pointers to current lecture videos, lecture notes, quizzes and assignments will go there. CampusWire is also the best place to ask a question, whether about course content or logistics. Here are some guidelines.
  • If you are wondering about something, ask a question!
  • Answer other students' questions and refine existing answers.
  • Be polite; be kind.
  • Do not post code or ask others to post code.
  • You may post privately to the instructors, but we reserve the right to make all or part of the post public if we feel the question is of general interest to the class. (If we do this, we won't reveal any personal information about the original poster.)
  • We may post questions on CampusWire that get emailed to the instructors if we feel the question is of general interest to the class. (Same as above.)


The following is the required textbook for this course. A PDF version of the book is available on the author's website.
  • Computer Security and the Internet by Paul C. van Oorschot. ISBN: 1619-7100 Publisher: Springer