CS499/579 :: Empirical Computer Security
Fall 2023

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Empirical security research seeks to understand how computer security concerns actually manifest in practice. For instance, in 2017 NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) reversed their password recommendations after empirical research showed that their requirements actually led to more easily guessable passwords! This course explores recent research developments in applied security research across a wide range of computer security areas: computer networks, the web, social engineering, misinformation, malware, botnets, usable security, and emerging applications such as IoT, smart cars, etc. This is a project-based course that will concurrently introduce students to the basics of empirical security research. The instructor will work with students to identify a research problem (e.g., uncovering new threats, developing security defenses), design experiments, collect/analyze data, and communicate findings. Ultimately, this course aims to prepare students for successful security research careers, either in graduate school or industry.

Course Information


Course Policy

Every student is expected to review and abide by the University's Code of Academic Integrity. Violations will result in appropriate disciplinary action such as a failing grade on the assignment, failure in the course, probation, suspension, or dismissal from the University. Cheating is when you copy, with or without modification, someone else’s work that is not meant to be publicly accessible. Unacceptable collaboration is the knowing exposure of your own exam answers, project solutions, or homework solutions, or the use of someone else’s answers or solutions. At the same time, we encourage students to help each other learn the course material. You may give or receive help on any of the concepts covered in lecture. You are allowed to consult with other students about the conceptualization of a project, or the general approach for solving problems. However, all work, whether in scrap or final form, must be done by you.

  Minor AI use permitted. For this course, you must be the author of all work. You may use AI such as ChatGPT, Bard, Bing, or GitHub Copilot in some minor ways. For example, unless otherwise specified in the assignment, you may use AI to generate ideas, polish or edit text you have drafted, create an outline, or assist with coding or data analysis. You may NOT use AI to write a draft or final copy of a paper or essay, or to write all or part of a discussion post/questions. Always review individual assignments for specific instructions. You are ultimately responsible for all information that you submit for this course, and you are liable for any inaccuracies, plagiarism, or other problematic content.

Ignorance is not an excuse for any academic dishonesty. It is your responsibility to read this policy to avoid any misunderstanding. Do not hesitate to ask the instructor(s) if you are ever in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or any other breach of academic integrity.

Equal Opportunity & Access

Disability-related Accommodations: Accommodations for students with disabilities are determined and approved by Disability Access Services (DAS). If you, as a student, believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not obtained approval please contact DAS immediately at 541-737-4098 or at http://ds.oregonstate.edu. DAS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates implementation of those accommodations. While not required, students and faculty members are encouraged to discuss details of the implementation of individual accommodations.

Religious Accommodations: OSU must reasonably accommodate its students' religious beliefs, observances, and practices in regard to admissions, class attendance, and the scheduling of examinations and work requirements. You should examine this syllabus at the beginning of the semester for potential conflicts between course deadlines and any of your religious observances. If a conflict exists, you should notify your instructor of the conflict within the first two weeks of class and follow the procedure here to request appropriate accommodations.

Other Accommodations: Accommodations for other circumstances (e.g., pregnancy, domestic violence) may be available. Please consult the OSU Office of Equal Opportunity & Access (EOA).