CS 294-28, Fall 2009
Network Security

  Vern Paxson (vern@cs, 737 Soda Hall, 643-4209, 666-2882)

  Wed/Fri, 2:40-4PM, 405 Soda

Office Hours:
  Mon 1:30-2:30PM in 737 Soda.


Previous announcements (other than for older past homeworks):

Course Description

CS294-28: Network Security. Prerequisite: EE122 or equivalent, knowledge of basic network security notions, basic probability/statistics.

This class aims to provide a thorough grounding in network security suitable for those interested in conducting research in the area, as well as students more broadly interested in either security or networking. Topics will include: denial-of-service; capabilities; network intrusion detection; worms; forensics; scanning; traffic analysis; legal issues; web attacks; anonymity; wireless security; botnets and honeypots; and research pitfalls.

The course is taught with an emphasis on seminal papers rather than bleeding-edge for a given topic. It includes a major project each student undertakes individually or in pairs. The class is intended to evolve into a regular graduate offering, and the syllabus has substantial overlap with portions of the SEC prelim.

Three hours of lecture per week. (3 units)

Course topics

See the syllabus.


Class project: 50%
Homework: 25%
Lecture participation: 10%
Scribe notes: 15%


There will be a term project. You will do independent research in pairs or individually. Projects may cover any topic of interest in network security, interpreted broadly (it need not be a topic discussed in class); ties with current research are encouraged. See the project description for details and due dates for the different elements.

You are encouraged to start thinking of topics of interest early. Be ambitious!

Readings / Homework

There is no required textbook. All reading will be from papers. A tentative list of these is available from the syllabus. We will definitely cover most of these topics (and primary papers), but may make some changes over the course of the semester.

Homework for the course primarily consists of writing a "mini-review" of each paper you read. In general you are only responsible for reading the first paper listed for a given topic. If you want to read and review a different paper instead, in general that's okay, but clear your choice with me in advance.

Submit your mini-review, via email, by Tuesday 1PM for papers discussed during a Wednesday lecture, and Thursday 1PM for papers discussed during a Friday lecture. (These times might shift up to 9AM, depending on class size.)

Your mini-review should give briefly sketch each of the following:

  1. What are the paper's main contributions?
  2. What parts of the paper do you find unclear? (Optional)
  3. What parts of the paper are questionable? (E.g., methodology, omissions, relevance, presentation.)
  4. Given the contributions, what issues remain? What related ideas does it bring to mind? (Sometimes this part will frame specific questions, such as challenging you to come up with and defend a proposed solution.)

Your mini-review does not need to be particularly formal, but it needs to reflect a thoughtful assessment of the paper. (It is understandable that you may find parts of some papers baffling or inaccessible. Flag these and don't kill yourself trying to absorb them - same goes for technical fine points - but use prudence in this regard.) If there are particular elements of your mini-review for which you'd like direct feedback, indicate them in your writeup.

Note, mini-reviews are to be done individually. It's fine to discuss the readings with your fellow students or others in order to gain comprehension, but the writeup should reflect your own views and framing.

Late mini-reviews lose 50% credit off the top. Writeups turned in after the scribe notes (see below) receive no credit.

Scribe notes

You will be expected to write scribe notes for a couple of lectures (the number depends on the class size). Email me document source (latex, HTML, Word) with your scribe notes suitable for editing and posting on the course Web site. For full credit, I need to receive it within one week after the corresponding lecture.

Inspect the syllabus and send me a note regarding which lecture(s) you'd prefer to scribe. I will allocate scribes in first-come-first-serve order.


We will be discussion attacks, some of them quite nasty, and also powerful eavesdropping technology. None of this is in any way an invitation to undertake these in any fashion other than with informed consent of all involved parties. If in any context you are uncertain about where to draw the line, come talk with me first.

Mailing List

The course uses a mailing list for announcements and discussions, so it is important for students to subscribe to it.


The schedule here will be updated as the course progresses.

Topic Readings Notes
8/26 Overview and logistics (none) Lecture slides
8/28 Denial-of-Service Inferring Internet Denial of Service Activity, Moore, Voelker and Savage, USENIX Security 2001. Scribed by Neil Bell. Lecture materials
9/2 Traceback Practical Network Support for IP Traceback, Savage et al., SIGCOMM 2000. Scribed by Chao (Michael) Zhang. Lecture materials
9/4 Capabilities SIFF: A Stateless Internet Flow Filter to Mitigate DDoS Flooding Attacks, Yaar, Perrig, and Song, IEEE S&P 2004. Scribed by Bill Marcza. Lecture materials
9/9 No lecture (HotNets PC meeting.)
9/11 DoS Defense Mayday: Distributed Filtering for Internet Services, David Andersen, USITS 2003 (HTML, PDF). Scribed by Chao (Michael) Zhang. Lecture materials
9/16 Network intrusion detection systems Bro: A System for Detecting Network Intruders in Real-Time, Vern Paxson, Computer Networks, 31(23-24), pp. 2435-2463, 14 Dec. 1999.
Scribed by Neil Bell. Lecture materials
9/18 NIDS Evasion Network Intrusion Detection: Evasion, Traffic Normalization, and End-to-End Protocol Semantics, Mark Handley, Christian Kreibich and Vern Paxson, USENIX Security 2001
Scribed by Matei Zaharia. Lecture materials
9/23 NIDS Evaluation Testing Intrusion Detection Systems: A Critique of the 1998 and 1999 DARPA Off-line Intrusion Detection System Evaluation as Performed by Lincoln Laboratory, John McHugh, ACM Transactions on Information and System Security, 3(4). November, 2000.
Scribed by Matei Zaharia. Lecture materials
9/25 The Threat of Worms How to 0wn the Internet in Your Spare Time, Stuart Staniford, Vern Paxson and Nicholas Weaver, USENIX Security 2002
Lecture materials. (No scribe notes.)
9/30 Worm Signatures Polygraph: Automatically Generating Signatures for Polymorphic Worms, James Newsome, Brad Karp and Dawn Song, IEEE S&P 2005
Scribed by Michael Zhang. Lecture materials
10/2 Worm Detection/Defense Scalability, fidelity, and containment in the Potemkin virtual honeyfarm, Michael Vrable et al, SOSP 2005. Can we contain Internet worms?, Manuel Costa, Jon Crowcroft, Miguel Castro and Antony Rowstron, HotNets III 2004, and its public review (pp. 12-13).
Scribed by Neil Bell. Lecture materials.
10/7 Scanning Fast Portscan Detection Using Sequential Hypothesis Testing, Jaeyeon Jung, Vern Paxson, Arthur Berger, and Hari Balakrishnan, IEEE S&P 2004
Scribed by Matei Zaharia. Lecture materials
10/9 Forensics Toward a Framework for Internet Forensic Analysis, Vyas Sekar et al, HotNets 2004, and its public review (pp. 13-14). Lecture materials
10/14 Traffic Analysis Timing Analysis of Keystrokes and Timing Attacks on SSH, Dawn Song, David Wagner, Xuqing Tian, USENIX Security 2001
Scribed by Bill Marczak, and also by Emil Stefanov. Lecture materials
10/16 Anonymity Tor: The Second-Generation Onion Router, Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson, Paul Syverson, USENIX Security 2004
Scribed by Emil Stefanov. Lecture materials
10/16 PROJECT Related Work Writeup Due (evening)
10/21 No lecture (ACM HotNets)
10/23 Architecture Ethane: Taking Control of the Enterprise, Martin Casado et al., SIGCOMM 2007
Scribed by Bill Marczak. Lecture materials
10/28 Wireless Can Ferris Bueller Still Have His Day Off? Protecting Privacy in the Wireless Era, Ben Greenstein et al, USENIX HotOS XI 2007
Scribed by Bill Marczak. Lecture materials
10/30 Web Authentication Conditioned-safe Ceremonies and a User Study of an Application to Web Authentication, Chris Karlof, J.D. Tygar, and David Wagner, NDSS 2009
Scribed by Yanpei Chen. (No lecture slides.)
11/4 No lecture (Internet Measurement Conference.)
11/6 Web Attacks Secure Content Sniffing for Web Browsers, or How to Stop Papers from Reviewing Themselves, Adam Barth, Juan Caballero, and Dawn Song, IEEE S&P 2009
Scribed by Yanpei Chen. Lecture materials
11/11 No lecture Campus Holiday
11/13 Botnets Studying Spamming Botnets Using Botlab, John P.John, Alexander Moshchuk, Steven D. Gribble, and Arvind Krishnamurthy, NSDI 2009
Scribe notes by Emil Stefanov. Lecture materials
11/13 PROJECT Status Report Due (evening)
11/18 Scams The Impact of Incentives on Notice and Take-down, Tyler Moore and Richard Clayton, Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS), 2008. Scribe notes by Michael Zhang. Lecture materials
11/20 Scams, con't No additional reading assignment (but homework for next lecture due this evening). Lecture materials
11/23 Legality and Ethics Guest lecture by Aaron Burstein.
Conducting Cybersecurity Research Legally and Ethically, Aaron Burstein, First USENIX Workshop on Large-scale Exploits and Emergent Threats (LEET '08). Designing and Conducting Phishing Experiments, Peter Finn and Markus Jakobsson, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Special Issue on Usability and Security, 2007.
Note, special date/time.
Scribed by Yanpei Chen. Aaron's slides.
11/27 No lecture Thanksgiving Holiday
12/2 Projects Class Project presentations. (Bill, Matei, Yanpei)
12/4 Projects Class Project presentations. (Emil, Neil, Michael)
12/14 PROJECT Project Report Due (1PM)


Student feedback in general is always highly valuable. As this class is under development and intended to evolve into a regular grad offering, it is particularly valuable for this course! If you want to send anonymous comments or criticisms, feel free to use an anonymous remailer, or slip a note under my door or in my box.

Vern Paxson, vern@cs.berkeley.edu, http://www.icir.org/vern/.