Department of Computer Science
CS 467: Cryptography and Computer Security
Michael J. Fischer
Syllabus, Spring 2013
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survey of such
private and public
key cryptographic techniques as DES,
RSA, and zero-knowledge proofs, and
their application to problems
of maintaining privacy and
security in computer
networks. Focus on
technology, with consideration of such
societal issues as
balancing individual privacy concerns against the
needs of law
enforcement, vulnerability of societal
institutions to electronic attack, export regulations and international competitiveness, and development of secure
Course Website: http://zoo.cs.yale.edu/classes/cs467/2013s/index.html
This course is about cryptography and its applications to information and computer security. Privacy and security are central to our emerging “information society”, and cryptography is a key technology for achieving them. It is also a fascinating field of study in its own right.
Information security, broadly defined, involves controlling the dissemination of information. It includes issues of privacy, data integrity, authenticity, and authority. Privacy refers to preventing information flow to unintended recipients. Data integrity properties insure that information is correct and undamaged. Authenticity identifies information with a source. Authority describes what actions are permitted by whom. Because of the ease with which information can be copied and transmitted, traditional physical means of control are of limited efficacy. Cryptography gives a way to build logical controls on the flow of information that are largely independent of the physical properties of the devices used to transmit and store information.
Computer security relies on cryptography for access control and protection of sensitive data, but computer security also includes topics such as physical security, access restrictions, activity monitoring, and control of software defects that go way beyond what will be covered in this course.
Cryptography lies at the center of this course, but we will be approaching the subject broadly. On the one end, we’ll look at problems of computer and information security and see how cryptographic tools can be used to solve them. We’ll also touch on some social issues surrounding the use of cryptography. At the other end, we’ll explore the mathematical structures from which cryptographic primitives are built.
Security properties cannot be verified through testing since there is no way to test all possible attacks. Instead, they must be verified analytically through security modeling, or empirically through the test of time. Analytic verification means establishing plausible mathematical models in which security properties can be formally stated and proved.
The lectures will generally follow the outline below but are subject to revision as the term progresses. The exam dates are firm, so you should avoid scheduling other commitments on those days.
Website: I maintain a course website at http://zoo.cs.yale.edu/classes/cs467/2013s/index.html. You should bookmark it in your browser and visit it often. It will grow as the term progresses and will contain announcements, handouts, lecture notes, revisions to homework assignments, programming hints, and links to documents in the course directory and elsewhere on the web. Access to this and other Yale web sites may be restricted to machines on the Yale network. If you find it is, you will need to configure your browser to use the Yale proxy server, or set up your machine to use a Yale VPN connection.
Prerequisites: This course will be taught at an advanced undergraduate/graduate level and assumes a basic computer science background. Some C/C++ programming will be required. CPSC 202a and 223b are prerequisites. Graduate students should have an equivalent background.
Requirements: Course requirements include written problem sets and programming assignments (~30%), a midterm exam (~25%), and a final exam (~45%). The approximate weights of each in determining the course grade are subject to change depending on the number and difficulty of the assignments actually given. Graduate students taking the course will be expected to perform at a higher level than undergraduates and may be required to do additional work.
Assignments and other announcements: Written problem sets and programming assignments will posted on the handouts page of the course website from time to time during the course. Other course announcements will be posted on the course home page. It is your responsibility to check these pages frequently.
Help with Technical Material: The teaching assistants will be holding scheduled office hours during the term, which will be posted on the course home page. You are encouraged to meet with them with questions about the lectures, textbook, and problem sets. You may also send questions to the instructional staff by email. Please use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question will go to the entire instructional staff, and whoever is available at the time can decide to answer it. The response will also go to the entire staff so the others will know that it has been taken care of.
Other Questions: All questions about assessment and grading should be taken first to the TA’s. If they are unable to resolve your questions to your satisfaction, or if you wish to talk to me privately about any matter, then you are always welcome to contact me, either by email to email@example.com or in person. Email is also the preferred way to arrange an appointment with me.
Late Policy: Assignments will be due at 11:59 pm on the night of the stated due date. Late work will generally be subject to a penalty of 5% per day late unless accompanied by a Dean’s excuse. A 2-hour grace period following the original due date will be granted during which no late penalty will be assessed. However, there will be no grace period in counting the number of dates late for assignments turned in after the grace period. Work more than 4 days late will not be accepted, but alternative means for making up missed work may be arranged on an individual basis with a Dean’s excuse.
Please contact the instructor or TA as soon as you know that you will be unable to submit work on time or to attend a scheduled exam so that suitable makeup arrangements can be made.
Policy on Working Together: This course follows the Yale College policy on Cheating, Plagiarism, and Documentation, with which you should familiarize yourself. Briefly, if you use someone else’s work, you must acknowledge it. If it’s a piece of code, place the acknowledgement in your source file and explain clearly what parts are not your own. Similarly, if it’s in a paper, the acknowledgement belongs in the paper itself. All work not so acknowledged must be your own.
You may of course discuss the lectures and readings with your classmates in order to improve your understanding of the subject matter. Helping each other learn to use the tools in the Zoo is also okay. However, the design and implementation of all programs and all written work must be your own except where other sources are explicitly noted.
You are always free (and encouraged) to come in and ask the TA or instructor for help about anything concerning the course. Please talk to the instructor if you have any questions about this policy.
Avoiding Plagiarism: You may neither copy from another student nor permit your own work to be copied, unless explicit permission is given for such collaborations. To avoid unintended involvement in plagiarism, your work should never be in the possession of another student. Do not ask someone else to deliver or pick up your work. Do not let another student “borrow” your code to compare with theirs. Keep your files protected so that others cannot read them and carefully guard your password. Do not leave printed work in public areas such as the Zoo or in accessible wastebaskets. If you think your password may have been compromised, you should change it immediately.
Policy on Computer Problems: The Yale College policy on “Use of Computers and Postponement of Work” in the Yale College Programs of Study applies to this course. It is reproduced below.
“Problems that may arise from the use of computers, software, and printers normally are not considered legitimate reasons for the postponement of work. A student who uses computers is responsible for operating them properly and completing work on time. (It is expected that a student will exercise reasonable prudence to safeguard materials, including saving data on removable disks at frequent intervals and making duplicate copies of work files.) Any computer work should be completed well in advance of the deadline in order to avoid last-minute technical problems as well as delays caused by heavy demand on shared computer resources in Yale College.”
Particularly relevant for this course are the cautions against leaving a programming assignment to the last minute when machines might be busy, printers broken, and so forth, and about safeguarding your data.
The Zoo: This course will use the Computer Science Department’s educational computing facility, affectionately known as the Zoo. This facility contains modern workstations SuSE Linux. You will need to use these machines to prepare and submit coursework. Look at
for information on getting started if you are new to the Zoo.
These days, most of you have your own laptops and may be wondering why you should be bothered with using a new computer system. The answer is because code development software is still not completely compatible across multiple platforms. If it works on your Mac or Windows PC but fails when the graders run it on the Zoo, you will lose points. If you ask for help with compiler errors on your personal machine, we won’t be in a position to answer your questions. In short, develop your code on the Zoo! Regardless of where the code is developed, your assignments must be submitted from your Zoo course account, and they will be graded according to how well they work on the Zoo.
The Zoo machines support remote access via the SSH and VNC protocols. These enable you to do your work remotely when it is inconvenient to go in person to the Zoo. Instructions on how to configure your machine for remote access will be posted to the course web site.
and follow the instructions there. Do not wait. Do it now. I will be unsympathetic for late submissions due your not having followed this instruction.
Course directory: The shared course directory, /c/cs467, is located on the Zoo server. You can access it from your Zoo course account. It will contain any software needed for this course and miscellaneous documentation and files. It will also contain software to allow you to submit assignments electronically. Public files there can be accessed via the web as well as from a Zoo node. Your class account home directories will also be located there.
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