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This is an archived syllabus from 2019-2020

COMP38411 Cryptography & Network Security syllabus 2019-2020

COMP38411 materials

COMP38411 Cryptography & Network Security

Level 3
Credits: 10
Enrolled students: 132

Course leader: Ning Zhang

Additional staff: view all staff

Additional requirements

  • Students who are not from the School of Computer Science must have permission from both Computer Science and their home School to enrol.

Assessment methods

  • 100% Written exam
Sem 1 Lecture Sam Alex SAMUEL ALEXANDER TH Thu 11:00 - 13:00 -
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Mobile Computing and Networks


The popularity of the Internet, coupled with the explosive growth of mobile computing devices (phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and laptops), has led to the world of universal electronic connectivity. In this connected world, people access data and services on the Internet and communicate with each other anywhere and anytime. While this level of connectivity may bring us many benefits such as improving our quality of life and running services with global presence but with reduced costs, it does open vast opportunities for unauthorised access to data, services and other resources and for fraud and forgeries in commercial and business activities. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to increase both awareness and knowledge in protecting data and resources from unauthorised disclosure, in guaranteeing the authenticity of data in transit, and in protecting networked systems against attacks.


This course unit introduces students to the principles and practice of cryptography and network security, exploring popular cryptographic methods and security protocols and their applications for countering network-based security threats and attacks.

The course is designed for students who have some understanding of computer networks and protocols, but no background in security.


Introduction to Security

basic notions of security, security properties (confidentiality, integrity and availability), security vulnerabilities, threats and attacks, the use of attack trees in evaluating and classifying security vulnerabilities and threats, security models, policies and mechanisms

Cryptographic methods (or primitives)

classical encryption techniques, Feistel encryption and decryption, symmetrical (or conventional) ciphers, block cipher and stream cipher principles and operations, introduction to number theory, asymmetrical (or public-key) ciphers

cryptographic hash functions, Message Authentication Code (MACs), digital signatures

Establishing trust, cryptographic (or security) protocols

Diffie-Hellman key exchange, symmetric key distributions, digital certificates and Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs), user identification and authentication, single sign on, cryptographic protocol analysis and design

Network and Internet Security

IP security, web security, email security, Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) security, e-commerce security, Cloud computing security

Feedback methods

Via question/answer sessions.

Study hours

  • Lectures (22 hours)
  • Practical classes & workshops (16 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Research

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:

  • Identify and classify security vulnerabilities and threats in a networked and distributed system context.
  • Describe some of the classical cryptographic techniques and their weaknesses.
  • Describe the principles and algorithms of the most widely used cryptographic schemes.
  • Apply appropriate cryptographic schemes to design security protocols or methods to achieve a given security goal, or to solve a given security problem, in a practical (efficient, usable and scalable) manner.
  • Describe the principles of the most widely used Internet security solutions.

Reading list

Cryptography and network security : principles and practice Stallings, William, author.9781292158587Pearson2017
CompTIA Security+ Guide to Network Security FundamentalsMark D. Ciampa1337288780CENGAGE Learning Custom Publishing; 6th edition edition22 Sept. 2017
Computer security.Gollmann, Dieter.0470741155Wiley2011.

Additional notes

Course unit materials

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.