Cyber Security Fundamentals (AIT 660)

Dr. Massimiliano Albanese, Department of Information Sciences and Technology

Fall 2017. Mondays, 4:30 pm - 7:10 pm, Robinson Hall B222, Fairfax Campus

Office hours. By appointment

George Mason University

Catalog Description

The course introduces fundamental security principles and real-world applications of cyber security. Topics covered in the course include access control, common classes of attacks, monitoring, attack and intrusion detection, basic cryptography, computer security models, legal and privacy issues, and risk analysis. The course also provides students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience with several security tools (e.g., protocol analyzers).

Course Goals

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:


Registration in MS, Applied IT program or permission of Instructor.

Course Format

The course will employ lectures, in class-quizzes to assess progress, and a final exam. Students will be required to give a group presentation at the end of the course.

Textbooks and Reading Materials

Required Textbook

CISSP:Certified Information Systems Security Professional Study Guide

CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional Study Guide, 6th edition
James M. Stewart, Mike Chapple, and Darril Gibson
ISBN: 978-1-118-31417-3
Wiley, 2012


CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional Study Guide, 7th edition
James M. Stewart, Mike Chapple, and Darril Gibson
ISBN: 978-1-119-04271-6
Wiley, 2015

The required textbook is available electronically through the Safari Tech Books Online collection. You can access this book by following these steps:

Course Outline

Below is an outline of the 15 weekly class meetings.

  1. [08-28-2017] - Introduction to the course - Lecture 1: Accountability and access control
  2. [09-11-2017] - Lecture 2: Attacks and monitoring
  3. [09-18-2017] - Lecture 3: Review of networking concepts - Review session
  4. [09-25-2017] - In-class quiz n. 1 - Lecture 4: Communications security and countermeasures
  5. [10-02-2017] - Lecture 5: Security management & Policies and risk management
  6. [10-10-2017] - Lecture 6: Data and application security - Review session
  7. [10-16-2017] - In-class quiz n. 2 - Lecture 7: Malicious code and application attacks
  8. [10-23-2017] - Lecture 8: Cryptography and symmetric key algorithms
  9. [10-30-2017] - Lecture 9: PKI and cryptographic applications - Review session
  10. [11-06-2017] - In-class quiz n. 3 - Lecture 10: Principle of security models & Security Architecture Vulnerabilities, Threats, and Countermeasures
  11. [11-13-2017] - Lecture 11: Business continuity planning & Disaster recovery planning
  12. [11-20-2017] - Lecture 12: Legal and ethical issue - Review session
  13. [11-27-2017] - Student presentations
  14. [12-04-2017] - Student presentations
  15. [12-18-2017] - Final exam

Course Tools

The following tools will be used in this course.

Additional Resources & Information

Below is a list of additional and useful resources.

Grading Policy

Grading will be based on class participation, assignments, and exams. Points for course activities will accrue as follow:

Activity Points
Class participation¬†(≠ class attendance) 100
In-class quizzes (3 @ 70 points each) 210
Group Presentation 100
Final exam 150
Total 560

Final letter grades are assigned as follows. Breakpoints may be adjusted depending on overall class performance.

Point % range Letter grade
97% - 100% A+
93% - 96.9% A  
90% - 92.9% A- 
87% - 89.9% B+
83% - 86.9% B  
80% - 82.9% B- 
77% - 79.9% C+
73% - 76.9% C  
  0% - 72.9% F  

Extra Credits. Students who wish to recover credits lost in other course activities can volunteer to prepare and give short presentations (4-5 content slides, 8-10 minutes) on a topic of their choice. Each short presentation will earn up to 25 points, for a maximum of two presentations per student during the entire course. Students must notify the instructor in advance of their intention to give an extra credit presentation. Time and topic of the presentation must be approved by the instructor. Student giving an extra credit presentation must submit their slides to the instructor no later than 3pm on the day of the presentation. The last day to give an extra presentation is November 20, 2017. Students passing the CISSP exam will earn 50 bonus points. No other extra credit opportunities beyond those mentioned here will be offered to students.

Attendance. Regular attendance is strongly recommended. Students will be held responsible for all material covered in class. Quizzes and exams are given on the dates specified on the course schedule. Absence from taking any quiz/exam will result in a score of zero, unless cleared in advance with the instructor and arranged for a makeup session. Excusable absences are normally related to unavoidable and documented emergency situations.

Final Grades. Final grades are non-negotiable, and cannot be disputed once posted. Any request to adjust grades after they have been posted will be denied unless there has been a factual error on the instructor's side.

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