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Department of Computer Science

The Volgenau School of Engineering

ISA-685-001 Emerging Topics in Cyber Security
Fall 2011



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Sect 1

Prof. Griffiths

ENGR 4201


7:20 p.m.

Course Description (From

ISA 685.001 CRN 80072 (3:3:0)

Prerequisite: Admission to MS, Applied IT program.

This seminar provides a student team-based learning experience based on topics selected by leading experts in the area of applications of Information Security Concepts in the real-world scenarios. The (five to six) invited lecturers will lead a discussion followed by class team presentations of project work based on the lecture. Teams will be assigned to discuss to research different applications of the concept of discussion.


Learning Objectives

The course provides a series of emerging topics in information security. Students in the class will gain knowledge about these topics from recognized experts in the field. They will then learn how to synthesize and extend this knowledge by participating as members of class teams consisting of three or four students. Each team is required to make a presentation in the week following the lecture given by the expert. This presentation will address a specific topic or question raised by the speaker. In the week between the external speaker and the team presentation, students are expected to use web-based resources to develop material for their presentation. All members of the team are required to participate in the team presentation. Students develop the critical skills of applying security concepts and analysis skills to real world scenarios and to do so while working with fellow team members.


Specific learning objectives include:

1.      Understand emerging threats and/or new needs in information security.

2.      Discuss and analyze a security scenario that would be analogous to the described threat or, can use the described technical solution.

3.      Work with team members during a one week period to find a feasible solution to a new problem, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed solution and, convince the others of the appropriateness of the proposed solution.



Expected outcomes include:  

1.      Understand an emerging threat or a new security solution for an emerging class of problems. These will be presented by leading experts in the area.

2.      Be able to effectively design a new solution to a problem with comparable complexity or apply the described solution to a different class of problems.

a)      Design a solution under time stress.

b)      Work in a small group to develop a convincing solution.

c)      Convince a medium-sized similarly trained professional audience of the feasibility and the applicability of your solution.


Student Roles and Responsibilities

Theme: Students in this class are considered to be adults; they will be treated as such.


Attendance: Class attendance is expected and will be recorded. Your participation in class is critical to the exchange of ideas and the exposure to other perspectives. Students must come to class fully prepared to discuss the day’s topics and to discuss their progress of the previous week toward the completion plan. You must be committed to refining and enhancing your interpersonal and communications skills


Team Work. Project work is done in teams. Your participation in the team’s work is among the most critical factors of your class grade and your team’s success. Conflicts should be resolved quickly through team leadership and instructor, if necessary.


Questions. All questions should be asked and resolved in class, especially those concerning class assignments. Those involving personal matters should be addressed in private by appointment at the instructor’s office.


Dress. This class has several corporate visitors throughout the term. Dress for all classes is expected to be business casual. Those who are not appropriately attired for this class may be asked to leave the room.


Academic Honesty: Any cheating, fabrication, plagiarism or facilitating academic dishonesty by another will result in confiscation of the subject work and a grade of F on that work. It is your responsibility to know and to follow George Mason University’s policy on intellectual integrity (


ODS Statement: If you are a student with a disability and you wish academic accommodations, please see the Professor and contact the Office of Disability Services (703) 993-2474. All academic accommodations must be arranged through ODS (





There is no text book for this course. However, individual guest lecturers may post articles or links with collateral materials. Students are expected to augment the material presented in class with material taken from the internet. When this is done, appropriate references must be provided.


Faculty and Staff


Lloyd J. Griffiths, Ph.D. (

      5100 Nguyen Engineering Building

      (703) 993-1500.


Graduate Teaching Assistant:

Ahmed Alazzawe (

 5328 Nguyen Engineering Building

(703) 993-3339


Grades will be awarded in accordance with the Mason Grading System for graduate students. See (

Raw scores may be adjusted by the professor to calculate final grades.

Final grades will be posted to (, which is the only vehicle for students to obtain those grades.





Grades will be composed of the following items and weights:


1.      (42%) Team Presentations (6). In the week following each external speaker’s presentation, all class teams will make a 20 minute presentation that addresses a question posed by the speaker. All presentations must be in Powerpoint with copies provided to the instructor and GTA no later than the Tuesday evening preceding the class.


When one team is making its presentation, that team will be evaluated by the other teams. Grading will consist of the following categories:


PRESENTATION       A maximum of 3 points for each criteria for a total of 12 points

1.      All team members are indentified and engaged in the presentation

2.      Briefers engage the audience and respond to questions

3.      Team is well prepared, coordinated, rehearsed

4.      Presentation media is clear, concise, speakers are easily understood


CONTENT                    A maximum of 5 points for each criteria for a total of 20 points

1.      An accurate summary and explanation of the problem is provided

2.      The primary issues of the problem are identified and addressed

3.      Technical elements are well researched, referenced and explained

4.      Relevant conclusions and recommendations are given



2.      (18%) The instructor and TA will evaluate each team’s assessment conducted under 1. above.

3.      (15%) Final team presentations. In the last class period, each team must make a 20 minute presentation that has the same form as those made by the external speakers. Specifically, the topic must be relevant to the class and be well researched. Three questions must be presented by the team that relate to the material presented. Grading of the final presentation will be done by the instructor and GTA.

4.      (12.5%) At the conclusion of the class, team members will provide a peer assessment of the other team members that reflects their performance during the entire semester.

5.      (12.5%) Participation: All class members are expected to actively participate in the class. This includes contributing to the team presentations and asking relevant questions of both external speakers and the other teams (during their presentations). Participation also includes attendance. If a student is unable to attend a given class, they are required to notify the instructor and TA via email no later than Monday evening of the week of the class.





Student Responsibility


31 Aug

Course introduction

Course structure & outline

Assign teams

Final team project”

Team introductions and background


7 Sep


Don Kerr

Note taking


14 Sep

Team presentations on questions from Kerr’s talk

All students participate and present

Teams 15-minute briefs

21 Sep


Note taking



28 Sep

Team presentations on questions from Kerr’s talk

All students participate and present

Teams 15-minute briefs

5 Oct

Gary Gagnon (Mitre)

Note taking


12 Oct

Team presentations on questions from Gagnon’s talk

All students participate and present

Teams 15-minute briefs

19 Oct

R. Alexander (Capital One)

Note taking



26 Oct

Team presentations on questions from Alexander’s talk

All students participate and present

Teams 15-minute briefs

2 Nov

 Sushil Jajodia (CSIS)

Note taking



9 Nov

Team presentations on questions from Jajodia’s’s talk

All students participate and present

Teams 15-minute briefs

16 Nov


Note taking  


30 Nov

Team presentations on TBF talkr


All students participate and present

Teams 15-minute briefs

7 Dec


Final team presentations on topic of their choice

20 minutes each

Presentation must contain 3 questions