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COMP5618: Applied Cybersecurity (2019 - Semester 2)

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Unit: COMP5618: Applied Cybersecurity (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Computer Science
Unit Coordinator/s: Seneviratne, Suranga
Session options: Semester 2
Versions for this Unit:
Site(s) for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Brief Handbook Description: Digital technologies permeate every part of our lives. The internet has created a more open society, allowing us to create, share and access information and knowledge freely. As more of the services we rely on are digitised and available to use over the web, the more our identity, productivity, access to information, connectivity, social connections and financial well-being depends on information security. Consequently, a deep understanding of both offensive and defensive security techniques is fast becoming essential knowledge for a career in computing.

This course will provide in-depth knowledge of offensive security that will prepare the student for work in any technical field where they will are responsible for the development or maintenance of sensitive systems. The course begins by introducing the basic tools used by hackers, before highlighting the common weaknesses- and mitigations- for various levels of the technology stack, such as web applications, operating systems and corporate networks. Finally, students are provided practical insights into careers in information security in the areas of attack detection, prevention and defence. Students will develop the skills necessary to both gain access to test computers and to defend test networks from attack.
Assumed Knowledge: ELEC5616 OR INFO3616 OR INFO2315. with a CR+ grade
Additional Notes: This unit has a maximum enrolment size of 24 students.
Department Permission Department permission is required for enrollment in this session.
Lecturer/s: Seneviratne, Suranga
Anderson, Luke
Tutor/s: there will be some guest lecturers and tutors from the local IT industry (e.g. Commonwealth Bank and Atlasssian)
Timetable: COMP5618 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 1.00 1 13
2 Laboratory 2.00 1 12
3 Independent Study 5.00 1 13
4 Project Work - own time 2.00 1 12
T&L Activities: Students will participate in weekly three-hour lab sessions that include 30-60 minutes of lecture material interspersed with practical exercises. During each lab tutorial, academic papers will be distributed that relate to the following week’s topics. At the beginning of each lab, the paper from the previous week will be reviewed by the tutor, before a practical example relating to the topic will be performed by the students.

This course includes a ‘Capture The Flag’ (CTF) competition whereby students will attempt to gain access to various computers to collect a piece of privileged information and submit it for additional marks.

Students will be provided access to a live-boot persistent Kali Linux USB drive to be used as their ‘attacking’ system, and a network-based host which they use to practice defence..

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
Designing system security measures as part of the second assignment Design (Level 4)
Lectures and labs on security concepts at various system levels; practical assignment on penetration testing and defence Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
System security analysis as part of the penetration testing assignment Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
Research and review of a paper on a real-world security incident Information Seeking (Level 4)
Presentation of the analysis of the incident review paper and final oral examination Communication (Level 4)
Assignment on security defence; lab work with secure code warrior Professional Conduct (Level 4)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

Communication (Level 4)
1. Ability to present and discuss a security incident with security experts
Professional Conduct (Level 4)
2. Understanding of security measures to defend against malicious technical attacks levelled against connected systems.
3. Experience with the implementation of infrastructure to detect and defend against network-based attacks.
Information Seeking (Level 4)
4. Ability to research information on security issues from the literature and to analyse a security incident use case
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4)
5. Practical knowledge of penetration testing via hands-on experience with standard industry tools.
6. Understanding of audit trails and the ability to identify where those should be implemented for use in incident response.
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4)
7. Understanding of the software infrastructure for modern web-based, mobile, and cloud-hosted applications.
8. General knowledge of ethical and legal aspects of IT security and data privacy.
Design (Level 4)
9. Ability to recognise and resolve weaknesses in commonly-used systems.
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Practical Lab Participation No 10.00 Multiple Weeks 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9,
2 Assignment 1: Penetration Testing No 15.00 Week 13 2, 5, 7, 9,
3 Assignment 2: Penetration Defence No 15.00 Week 10 3, 5, 6, 9,
4 Security Incident Paper Review No 10.00 Week 7 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9,
5 Secure Code Warrior No 10.00 Multiple Weeks 2, 6, 7, 9,
6 Final (Oral) Examination No 40.00 Exam Period 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
Assessment Description: This course features several practical exercises throughout the semester. The preparation and configuration of these weekly tasks is assessed with the Participation mark of this unit.

On multiple weeks of the semester, penetration testing tasks are given out as part of a `capture the flag`-style competition which in combination are marked as the Penetration Testing assignment. In Week 10, students will also be tasked to secure a given system to defend against some penetration tests (Penetration Defence assignment). In Week 7, students have to review an security incident use case provided in paper form.

Throughout the whole semester, students will have access to the `Secure Code Warrior` which consists of a series of online exercises about security issues and code review, which can be worked on as homework.

The Security Incident Paper Review will include to write a short summary essay about a real-world security incident and to give a brief overview presentation about this incident to the class.

The final exam in the examination period will be an oral exam on all aspects of the course, but in particular focussing on the understanding of the students of the covered security technologies and measures.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Minimum Pass Requirement It is a policy of the School of Computer Science that in order to pass this unit, a student must achieve at least 40% in the written examination. For subjects without a final exam, the 40% minimum requirement applies to the corresponding major assessment component specified by the lecturer. A student must also achieve an overall final mark of 50 or more. Any student not meeting these requirements may be given a maximum final mark of no more than 45 regardless of their average.
Policies & Procedures: IMPORTANT: School policy relating to Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism.

In assessing a piece of submitted work, the School of Computer Science may reproduce it entirely, may provide a copy to another member of faculty, and/or to an external plagiarism checking service or in-house computer program and may also maintain a copy of the assignment for future checking purposes and/or allow an external service to do so.

Other policies

See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Online Course Content: Slides and reading material will be available online on the unit`s Learning site, and on the `Resources` page of the unit`s discussion site on Piazza at:

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Reading: Introduction and Basic tools (readings)
Week 2 Lecture/Tutorial: Getting Started and Web Applications 1: The Software Stack
Week 3 Lecture/Tutorial: Web Applications 2: Common Threads and Vulnerabilities
Week 4 Lecture/Tutorial: Mobile Applications: iOS
Week 5 Lecture/Tutorial: Mobile Applications: Android
Week 6 Lecture/Tutorial: Operating Systems: Windows
Week 7 Lecture/Tutorial: Operating Systems: Linux
Assessment Due: Security Incident Paper Review
Week 8 Lecture/Tutorial: Infrastructure 1: The Cloud and Virtualisation
Week 9 Lecture/Tutorial: Infrastructure 2: Commonly Targeted Services

Semester break between Week 9 and Week 10.
Week 10 Lecture/Tutorial: Physical & Social Security Threads
Assessment Due: Assignment 2: Penetration Defence
Week 11 Lecture/Tutorial: Incidence Report
Week 12 Lecture/Tutorial: The Industry and Security for the Internet of Things
Week 13 Lecture: UoS Review
Assessment Due: Assignment 1: Penetration Testing
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final (Oral) Examination

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Graduate Certificate in Information Technology 2017, 2018, 2019
Graduate Certificate in Information Technology Management 2017, 2018, 2019
Graduate Diploma in Computing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Graduate Diploma in Information Technology 2017, 2018, 2019
Graduate Diploma in Information Technology Management 2017, 2018, 2019
Master of Information Technology 2017, 2018, 2019
Master of Information Technology Management 2017, 2018, 2019
Master of IT/Master of IT Management 2017, 2018, 2019

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
Communication (Level 4) Yes 3%
Professional Conduct (Level 4) Yes 24%
Information Seeking (Level 4) Yes 2%
Maths/Science Methods and Tools (Level 4) Yes 26.25%
Engineering/IT Specialisation (Level 4) Yes 24.25%
Design (Level 4) Yes 20.5%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.