Computer Systems Security: Winter 2018 Course Outline

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Course Information

  • Course Number: COMP 4108
  • Term: Winter 2018
  • Title: Computer Systems Security
  • Institution: Carleton University, School of Computer Science
  • Instructor: Anil Somayaji (anil.somayaji at Wednesdays 1-2:30 (and by appointment) in HP 5137
  • TAs:
    • Nilofar Mansourzadeh (NilofarMansourzadeh at Fridays 9-10, Herzberg Laboratories: room 5422
    • Dongmei Yu (DongmeiYu at
  • Meeting Time: Mondays and Wednesdays 10:05-11:25 AM in 3235 Mackenzie
  • Course Website:

Official Course Description

COMP 4108: Introduction to information security in computer and communications systems, including network, operating systems, web and software security; Passwords, authentication applications, privacy, data integrity, anonymity, secure email, IP security, security infrastructures, firewalls, viruses, intrusion detection, network attacks. Prerequisite(s): one of COMP 3203 or SYSC 4602, and one of COMP 3000, SYSC 3001, SYSC 4001.


The main wiki page is the canonical source of information on this course. Please refer to it for updates. When significant changes are made to this document it will be either announced in lecture and/or posted in the course discussion forum.

Online course discussions will be on cuLearn.

You should get an account on this wiki so you can edit content here. Email Prof. Somayaji to get one with your preferred username and email address to which a password should be sent.

Required Textbooks/Software

There are no required textbooks or software for this course. Instead we will be reading research papers and web resources which will be linked to from the wiki. While many of the research papers will be available directly via web search, some will be behind paywalls. In this case there will be alternate links to those pages that go through the Carleton Library's proxy.


Students enrolled in COMP 4108 have the following grading scheme:

  • 10% Participation
  • 20% Experiences
  • 20% Assignments
  • 20% Midterm
  • 30% Final Exam

Each of these elements are explained below.


You are expected to attend every class for this course. Moreover, you are expected to participate in each class. This participation part of your grade will be based in part upon attendance; however, it will also be based upon the degree to which you were an active participant. Students who attend every class but who do nothing while in class will get a worse participation grade than those who miss some classes but who fully participate in those they do attend.

In-class group participation, class notes posted to the wiki, and Slack discussions are also included as part of the participation grade. Outstanding participation will be eligible for up to 4% in extra credit added on to the final course grade.


Students are required to complete nine experiences during the semester at a rate of approximately one per week (excluding the time around the midterm). These experiences will be graded as a participation grade, in that you will be graded primary on effort. When completing each experience, be sure to discuss how you went about the task and what difficulties you encountered.


There will be four assignments throughout the semester. Note the questions in the assignments will serve as the basis of the midterm and final exams.

Midterm and Final Exam

Students will be required to complete an in-class midterm exam and a formally scheduled final exam. These will be short answer/small essay tests based on the material covered in class, focusing on the material covered in the assignments.


Collaboration on all work is allowed except for the midterm and final exams. Collaboration, however, should be clearly acknowledged. Specifically, co-authored works should be marked as such. When co-authored, all authors of reading responses and projects will get the same grade, unless there is reason to believe that some co-authors did not in fact contribute significantly to the submitted work. Co-authored contributions may get different grades depending upon the relative contribution of the different authors; however, the default here will also be to give all authors the same grade.

It is essential that outside references be cited appropriately. Proper citation format should be followed except where more relaxed forms are specifically allowed.

Plagiarism or intellectual dishonesty of any kind is strictly forbidden. In other words, it should always be clear what is your work and what is the work of others. If anything you submit is, in part or whole, very similar in content or structure to that of work produced by someone else, you are plagiarizing. This includes figures.

Think of plagiarism as a kind of unauthorized collaboration. Don't do it. Plagiarism and other instructional offenses will be reported to the Dean of Science for disciplinary action, as per university guidelines.

University Policies

Student Academic Integrity Policy

Every student should be familiar with the Carleton University student academic integrity policy. A student found in violation of academic integrity standards may be awarded penalties which range from a reprimand to receiving a grade of F in the course or even being expelled from the program or University. Some examples of offences are: plagiarism and unauthorized co-operation or collaboration. Information on this policy may be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.


As defined by Senate, "plagiarism is presenting, whether intentional or not, the ideas, expression of ideas or work of others as one's own". Such reported offences will be reviewed by the office of the Dean of Science.

Unauthorized Co-operation or Collaboration

Senate policy states that "to ensure fairness and equity in assessment of term work, students shall not co-operate or collaborate in the completion of an academic assignment, in whole or in part, when the instructor has indicated that the assignment is to be completed on an individual basis".

Please see above for the specific collaboration policy for this course.

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

The Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC) provides services to students with Learning Disabilities (LD), psychiatric/mental health disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), chronic medical conditions, and impairments in mobility, hearing, and vision. If you have a disability requiring academic accommodations in this course, please contact PMC at 613-520-6608 or for a formal evaluation. If you are already registered with the PMC, contact your PMC coordinator to send me your Letter of Accommodation at the beginning of the term, and no later than two weeks before the first in-class scheduled test or exam requiring accommodation (if applicable). After requesting accommodation from PMC, meet with me to ensure accommodation arrangements are made. Please consult the PMC website for the deadline to request accommodations for the formally-scheduled exam (if applicable) at

Religious Obligation

Write to the instructor with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website:

Pregnancy Obligation

Write to the instructor with any requests for academic accommodation during the first two weeks of class, or as soon as possible after the need for accommodation is known to exist. For more details visit the Equity Services website:

Medical Certificate

The following is a link to the official medical certificate accepted by Carleton University for the deferral of final examinations or assignments in undergraduate courses. To access the form, please go to