ISA 656 Network Security

Location: Nguyen Engineering Building 1505
Meeting Time: Tuesday 4:30 pm - 7:10 pm
Instructor: Dr. Robert Simon
Office: 5322 Engineering Building
Phone: 703-993-1556
E-mail: simon AT gmu dot edu
Office Hours: Thursday 4:00 to 5:00, or by appointment

Teaching Assistant: Scott Weeks
Office Hours: TBD


The objective of this course to is provide comprehensive introduction to the network security problems, and the principles, techniques and their applications in securing network. We will focus on the Internet, and we will examine existing Internet security techniques and protocols and discuss about open problems in Internet security. Topics include secret key and public key cryptography, Hash algorithms, basic number theory, authentication, IPSEC/VPN, IPSEC key exchange, SSL/TLS, firewall, anonymous communication and VoIP seucurity. There will be written homework assignments to helpy you understand the theory behind these topics. There will be programming assignments that require network programming and the examination and manipulation of raw packets.

Technology policy

Cell phones and other communicative devices are not allowed in this class. Please keep them stowed away and out of sight. Laptops or tablets may be permitted for the purpose of taking notes only, but you must submit a request in writing to do so. Further, you are not allowed to access the Internet during class lectures or discussions. Using your device to access the Internet in any form during lectures or discussions will result in a significant deduction in your participation grade.


ISA 562 and INFS 612 or CS 555

Java programming experience required.

Required textbook

Network Security, Private Communication in a Public World 2nd Edition by C. Kaufman, R. Perlman, M. Speciner.

Recommended textbook

Network Security Essentials 2nd Edition by W. Stallings.


Class materials

All class materials, including lecture notes, are available through your Blackboard accounts.


There will be a semester long research project. I encourage but do not require that you work in groups of two or three. The outcome will be a 7 to 10 page research paper, with, as appropriate, working software. You will need to get your project topic approve by the instructor.

Programming assignments

There will be several software projects using tools such as Wireshark and Java for writting networking code.

Please NOTE

Grading policy

Your grade will be calcuated as follows:

Asignments are due at the start of class, not during class. Late assignments lose 15% credit per day and will not be accepted 3 days after the due date.

No early or late exams will be given. If you must miss an exam an makeup will be arranged at the discretion of the instructor, provided you have a written and verified excuse.

Course Outcomes

  1. An comprehensive understanding on the subject of network security.
  2. A knowledge of the state of the art of network security research.
  3. A deep understanding on the principles and techniques used in securing network or Internet, as well as the technical challenges and fundamental limitations of existing network security solutions.
  4. Preparation to become either a capable practitioner or independent researcher in network security.


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Honor Code

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