COSC421-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Advanced Topics in Security

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


This course will cover the wide-ranging issues on advanced topics in computer, network, and systems security. Students will learn from security fundamentals to advanced topics in security.

Term 1 (Ray Hunt)

These three topics are fundamental to applied cybersecurity and students will be provided with background fundamentals and will then design and test Wireless/Mobile, VPNs and IoT Systems in the cybersecurity lab.

•Wireless/Mobile LANs – vulnerabilities. Wireless Enterprise Architecture – design, setup and  testing, Android and Bluetooth vulnerabilities. NFC/RFID Smartcard security analysis.
• VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) – design and setting up of VPNs for secure cloud access. We   will build two types of VPNs in the lab selected from - OpenVPN, SSL-VPN, IPSec-VPN and IKEv2-VPN. We will test their operation with servers, firewalls and mobile client devices such
as laptops and mobile phones.
•  IoT (IN)Security. IoT devices are becoming widely used in home automation, offices and in   SCADA systems. We will experiment with IoT devices such as switches, lights, thermostats,
video cameras, doorlocks, and music players. In particular we will see how traffic between the
mobile device and IoT device can be intercepted and modified and in certain circumstances one
can take control of these systems whether they operate with TCP, UDP, Wifi, or Bluetooth. As a
result of this work it will become apparent that an authentication framework is essential if these
devices are to be operated safely in a 5G network.

All three of these topics will run in the specialist cybersecurity lab – Room 339 Erskine Building

Term 2 (Clementine Gritti)

Why Post Quantum Cryptography?

The field of cryptography is central to information security. It provides the main security building blocks of privacy and authentication/access control. Some major systems enabled by cryptography include TLS, secure email, e-commerce, cloud storage and computing, VPN, etc.

Asymmetric cryptography is one of the two main forms, where an encryption key is public while the corresponding decryption key remains secret. Almost all public-key cryptosystems currently being used (RSA, elliptic-curve cryptography) rely on the difficulty of two mathematical problems (integer factoring and discrete logarithms).

However, an algorithm due to Peter W. Shor efficiently solves these two problems by using quantum computers. Nowadays, quantum computing is not workable, but substantial progress is expected in the coming decade.

Therefore, research efforts on Post Quantum Cryptography have become necessary and urgent.

We will cover the basics of cryptography, have a look to quantum physics and discover potential cryptographic solutions to overcome the quantum computing threat, namely lattices, isogenies, multivariate polynomials, hash trees and codes.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:
  • understand and explain the concepts of wireless and mobile security
  • design and test VPNs for cloud operation which are immune to cyber-attacks
  • understand the operation of IoT devices and how interception and modification of traffic can occur and be protected against.
  • understand the concepts of Post Quantum Cryptography
  • understand the theoretical foundations of asymmetric cryptography
  • apply a new algorithm to integer factoring and discrete logarithms


(1) COSC362 and (2) subject to approval by the Head of Department

Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 12:00 - 14:00 Psychology - Sociology 210
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 08:00 - 10:00 Jack Erskine 339 Computer Lab
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
02 Thursday 14:00 - 16:00 Jack Erskine 339 Computer Lab
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun
03 Wednesday 14:00 - 16:00 Jack Erskine 339 Computer Lab
22 Feb - 4 Apr
26 Apr - 6 Jun

Course Coordinator

Clementine Gritti


Ray Hunt


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Assignment 1 30% Assignment split into three parts
Assignment 2 20% Assignment comprising 7 online quizzes
Final Exam 50%

Updated Semester One 2021 assessment deadlines and details will be available once finalised.

Additional Course Outline Information

Assessment and grading system

Assessment: 50% Assignments, 50% Final Exam

Grade moderation

The Computer Science department's grading policy states that in order to pass a course you must meet two requirements:
1. You must achieve an average grade of at least 50% over all assessment items.
2. You must achieve an average mark of at least 45% on invigilated assessment items.
If you satisfy both these criteria, your grade will be determined by the following University- wide scale for converting marks to grades: an average mark of 50% is sufficient for a C- grade, an average mark of 55% earns a C grade, 60% earns a B- grade and so forth. However if you do not satisfy both the passing criteria you will be given either a D or E grade depending on marks. Marks are sometimes scaled to achieve consistency between courses from year to year.

Students may apply for special consideration if their performance in an assessment is affected by extenuating circumstances beyond their control.

Applications for special consideration should be submitted via the Examinations Office website within five days of the assessment.

Where an extension may be granted for an assessment, this will be decided by direct application to the Department and an application to the Examinations Office may not be required.

Special consideration is not available for items worth less than 10% of the course.

Students prevented by extenuating circumstances from completing the course after the final date for withdrawing, may apply for special consideration for late discontinuation of the course. Applications must be submitted to the Examinations Office within five days of the end of the main examination period for the semester.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,033.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 5 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Computer Science and Software Engineering.

All COSC421 Occurrences

  • COSC421-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021