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CSCI E-170 Calendar - Fall 2005

General Information

Catalog description // Communication // Grading // Collaboration // Class meetings // Staff //

Catalog description

Security, Privacy and Usability

Usability and security are widely seen as two antagonistic design goals for complex computer systems. This course challenges convention wisdom and encourages students to discover ways that security, privacy and usability can be made synergistic in system design.

Topic include computer forensics, network forensics, user interface design, backups, logging, economic factors affecting adoption of security technology, trust management and related public policy. Case studies such as PGP, S/MIME, SSL will be used. Basic cryptography and hash function will be introduced as needed. Coursework includes analysis of papers, problem sets, and a substantial term project.


For announcements and assignments, the Web is our authoritative form of communication. Students are expected to check the CSCI E-170 home page for both news and assignments at least once a week. If you hear a rumor, check it there. If you miss an announcement, it should be on the home page.

Grading Policy

Grades in CSCI E-170 are based on class participation, homework, the quiz, and the two projects. These elements are weighted as follows:

Class Participation20%
Midterm Project10%
Final Project20%
Midterm Quiz20%

Thus, half of your grade is based on independent work, one fifth of your grade is based on class and online participation, and 30% of the grade is based on the two projects.

Class Participation

As this is a survey class of current research in computer security, privacy and usability, we will be reading and discussing research papers. As such,

Your grade for class participation will include your contributions on the class website, your attendance, and your preparation.

Note: If you don't participate (by taking part in the online discussions and, if you are not a distance student, regularly attend class), you will receive an F for both the class participation and the homework grade, even if you have faithfully handed in the assignments.

Class Projects

The class projects are designed to be significant projects involving original work that examines some aspect of security discussed in the course. Projects will be done in assigned teams of four students; teams will be scrambled after the first project. It is expected that each team will consist of students who are in Cambridge and those who are in distance education students.

The first project will be a literature review in which you will research a current issue in computer security, usability and privacy taking into account news articles and the scholarly literature. The work product for your first(midterm) project is a 12 to 15 page paper.

The second project is a hands-on project in which you will either develop or download a security system and write about your experience with it. The work product that you produce for the second (final) project will be a written report between 8 and 12 pages long, and a 10-minute presentation.

Both reports that you write should have scholarly references; you may use either the so-called "Harvard Style" or IEEE style to cite your references. A list of URLs is not an acceptable citation format and will be viewed will be graded accordingly. You should give priority to scholarly references over popular accounts in magazines or news websites. More details regarding the projects and project suggestions will be made available on the course website.

Note: You must hand in both projects to pass CSCI E-170. If you don't hand them in, you will receive an F for the subject as a whole.

The Midterm Quiz

The midterm quiz is a timed, open-book quiz. If you are a remote student, you may take this quiz at home: you will be asked to download the quiz at a given time and email your responses. There is no need to arrange for a proctor. There is no final exam.

Collaboration Policy

It is strongly recommended that you discuss the readings and assignments with your classmates. However, it is expected that the homeworks that you submit is your own. You may not collaborate on the quizzes. The final project is a group effort; your group should not collaborate with other groups.

It is expected that you will reference a variety of articles and other sources in the preparation of your assignments and final project. You are welcome to use either the so-called "Harvard Style" or IEEE style to cite your references. A list of URLs is not an acceptable citation format and will be viewed will be judged accordingly.

Class meetings

Lectures will be held on Monday evenings from 5:30 - 7:30pm in Room L01, 53 Church Street.

There will be an online section, in which all students are invited to participate, and TA office hours. Online sections will happen simultaneously with TA hours.
Office Hours:

Eleni:Monday 7:30-9:30PM 53 Church Str., Room 106
Joe:Tuesday 6:00-8:00PM(by appointment) MIT 35-010
Online: AIM chatroom "cscie170"


Simson L. Garfinkel, Ph.D.
Office Hours by appointment.

Teaching Fellows:
Eleni Drinea, Ph.D.
AIM: stfcse170

Joe Foley, M.Eng.
AIM: mitfoley (all times)
Location: MIT 35-010

Please direct all staff email to csci_e-170-staff.

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