Cyber Security:Emerging Threats and Countermeasures (AIT 701)

Dr. Massimiliano Albanese, Department of Applied Information Technology

Fall 2012. Fridays, 4:30 pm - 7:10 pm, Innovation Hall 133, Fairfax Campus

Office hours. Wednesdays, 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm, or by appointment, Engineering Building 5350, Fairfax Campus

George Mason University

Course calendar Get the course calendar

Catalog Description

The course covers security issues and current best practices in several applicative domains, ranging from the enterprise to the military. The course discusses emerging security threats and available countermeasures with respect to the most recent network and computing technologies, including wireless networks, computer-controlled physical systems, and social networks. The course concludes presenting current trends and open problems.

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 write a technical paper on a topic which must be approved in advance by the instructor, and give a 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, 5th edition
James Michael Stewart, Ed Tittel, and Mike Chapple
ISBN: 978-0-470-94498-1
Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2011

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 (click here to get the course calendar).

  1. Introduction to the course - Lecture 1: Accountability and access control (Chapter 1)
  2. Lecture 2: Attacks and monitoring (Chapter 2)
  3. Lecture 3: Review of networking concepts (Chapter 3) - Review session
  4. In-class quiz n. 1 - Lecture 4: Communications security and countermeasures (Chapter 4)
  5. Lecture 5: Security management (Chapter 5) & Policies and risk management (Chapter 6)
  6. Lecture 6: Data and application security (Chapter 7) - Review session
  7. In-class quiz n. 2 - Lecture 7: Malicious code and application attacks (Chapter 8)
  8. Lecture 8: Cryptography and symmetric key algorithms (Chapter 9)
  9. Lecture 9: PKI and cryptographic applications (Chapter 10) - Review session
  10. In-class quiz n. 3 - Lecture 10: Principle of computer design (Chapter 11) & Principle of security models (Chapter 12)
  11. Lecture 11: Business continuity planning (Chapter 15) & Disaster recovery planning (Chapter 16)
  12. Lecture 12: Legal and ethical issues (Chapters 17 & 18)
  13. Lecture 13: Security & privacy in social networks, cloud computing, mobile computing, and cyber-physical systems - Review session
  14. Student presentations
  15. 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 150
In-class quizzes (3 @ 60 points each) 180
Presentation 100
Term paper 150
Final exam 150
Total 730

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  
70% - 72.9% C- 
67% - 69.9% D+
63% - 66.9% D  
60% - 62.9% D- 
  0% - 59.9% F  

Students who wish to recover credits lost in other course activities can volunteer to give short presentations (4-5 slides, 8-10 minutes) on a topic of their choice. Each short presentation will earn up to 30 points, for a maximum of two presentations per student during the whole course. Students must notify the instructor in advance of their intention to give a short presentation. Time and topic of the presentation must be approved by the instructor.

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.

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