CS 261, Fall 2012
Computer Security

  David Wagner (daw@cs, 733 Soda Hall, 642-2758)

  Wed Fri , 2:30-4:00pm, 320 Soda

Office Hours:
  Wagner: Thursdays, 2-3pm, 733 Soda


See the schedule of lectures. This is a research-focused class. Each class will focus on a particular topic. You will read 2-3 research papers on the topic; the class itself will be a mix of lecture and class discussion.


Class project: 40%
Problem sets: 30%
Scribe notes: 15%
Paper summaries and class discussion: 15%


You should prepare to work on a class project performing independent research. You're expected to form small groups of 2-3 people. Projects may cover any topic of interest in systems security, interpreted broadly (it need not be a topic discussed in class); ties with your current research are encouraged. The project proposal is due October 3. You will present your work at a poster session (Wednesday December 12, 2-4pm), and a final project report will be due at the end of the semester (Monday Dec 17, 5pm). I will give you detailed feedback on the final project report.

Please see the project page for more details about the project, project proposal, and potential project ideas.

If you are looking for a project partner, I encourage you to enter your name on the Piazza page for that, and look through the other entries there.

Problem Sets

There will be approximately 2-3 homework assignments throughout the semester. They will appear on the course webpage as they are assigned. Homework due dates will be enforced strictly. Late homeworks will not be accepted.

Work on your own when doing homeworks. You may use any source you like (including other papers or textbooks), but if you use any source not discussed in class, you must cite it.

Scribe notes

You will be expected to write scribe notes for one lecture. I will arrange the scribe at the beginning of each lecture. If you were chosen to scribe, email me an PDF file with your scribe notes within one week after the lecture you are assigned to scribe. Here is a latex template you may use if you wish.


See the schedule for the list of readings.

You are required to read each paper before lecture. In addition, you will be required to write a brief summary of each paper you read. Your summary should list:

Your summary does not need to be formal (you may use bullet lists, incomplete sentences, etc.), and it may be brief, but it should reflect a thoughtful critical assessment of the paper.

You must enter your paper summary into the course wiki. (I don't plan to accept paper summaries on paper or by email.) You'll need to use your CalNet password to log into BSpace to get access to the course wiki. Paper summaries are due by noon the day of class when the reading is due (i.e., 2.5 hours before class starts).

Online discussion

I have set up an online site for discussion using the Piazza platform. Please don't hesitate to use that for discussion, questions, or anything else that might be of interest to others in the class.


We will be discussing attacks. None of this is in any way an invitation to undertake these in any fashion other than with informed consent of all involved parties. If in any context you are uncertain about where to draw the line, come talk with me first.

David Wagner, daw@cs.berkeley.edu, http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~daw/.