Course Description Class Logistics & Grading Topics Important Dates List of Projects
Instructor: Prateek Saxena (prateeks at comp dot nus dot edu dot sg)
Room & Timings: I3-0344, Thu 4pm - 6pm
Semester: AY 2019/2020 Semester 2


  • Watch this space!

Course Description

The module will expose you to some important research problems in security and privacy (as the title promises!). The philosophy of this class: learn one topic and learn it well. Of course, expect to know about many other exciting concepts and open problems,. Topics are a mix of theory and systems.

At the end of the class, you will:

  • Have in-depth knowledge on one topic listed below
  • Have an exposure to a set of other interesting topics

Research Topics & Readings

Lectures will provide the motivation and background for the following topics:
  • [ Lecture 1 Jan 16] Overview and logistics
    • Please attend the lecture to find out details
  • Recess week
  • [ Lecture 12 Apr 9] Student Presentations
  • [ Lecture 19 Apr 16] Student Presentations

Class Logistics & Grades

This class is a research-focused class and not graded on the curve. It counts towards the computer systems cluster requirement for PhD students. I will explain the detailed logistics of the course in the first lecture. There will be no final exam, labs or tutorials. To get the most out of the class, ask a lot of questions! Naive questions are often the best.

There are 3 components on which you will be tested:

  1. Term Paper. A paper on any one of the topics listed above. The topic will be agreed upon by the second lecture with the instructor. You are requested to meet the instructor once every 3-4 weeks to discuss your progress and agree on the scope and questions you're investigating. You will be graded on a mid-term draft of the paper and the final submission. The paper can be either:

    • A survey which include at least the papers listed for the chosen topic. Such a paper will be judged on how well you critique the papers, and whether you understand the technical details in depth. One effective starting point is to reproduce the key results of the paper (e.g. redo/check the proofs, part of the experiments, etc.); or

    • A research paper related to the chosen topic. Such a paper will be judged on delta over the prior work and initial results.

  2. Class Presentation. A presentation of your paper to the rest of the class.

  3. Oral Defense. An oral defense of your term paper. Your goal is to convince the instructor that you understand the topic of your paper in sufficient breadth and depth.

The component weightage in assigning grades is:

  • (20 points) Class Presentation
  • (30 points) Mid-term draft of the paper
  • (30 points) Final submission of the term paper
  • (20 points) Oral Examination

Who should take this class?

Please come for the first lecture or email me if you're unusre whether this class is for you.


The prerequisite is good undergraduate level understanding of computer science and having taken a undergraduate or graduate course in security. Exceptions to prerequisite requirements are allowed with the permission of the instructor.

Note on Ethics

In this class, you will be exposed to several powerful attack techniques. This class is not an invitation exploit vulnerabilities in the wild without informed consent of all involved parties. Attacking someone else's computer system is an offence; you are expected to use your knowledge with discretion.

For all readings and assignments, please feel free to discuss with your peers and use the Internet. But, you should write up your own submissions and cite any external resources you utilize in your write-ups. All students must comply with NUS academic honesty policies.