Course Syllabus

CSE 453 Computer Security

The purpose of this class is to help each student develop the skills necessary to become a security expert in whatever domain of computer security that is important to their job when they enter the workforce.

Why do I care?

Almost certainly your job will not be a "security" job. Mostly CIT majors have that job title. However, it is every software engineer's job to provide security assurances to the client. The ramifications of failing to provide the assurances can be traumatic. In other words, the purpose of CSE 453 is to help you maintain job security and gain needed skills.


By the end of this semester, you will be able to:

  1. Spot, classify, and suggest mitigation strategies for security vulnerabilities.
  2. Make design decisions that are consistent with the security needs of stake holders.
  3. Find quality sources relating to a given security area.
  4. Discern the quality of literature sources.
  5. Understand security literature.
  6. Explain complex security issues in an understandable and accurate way.
  7. List, define, and explain the fundamental principles of computer security.
  8. Appreciate the security implications of programming decisions.

CSE 453 is a research and practical application class where you will develop the skills to become a security expert in whatever domain is important to you when you enter the work force.

Class Organization

All the weeks but the first (an introduction to the topic and the course), the tenth (midterm), and the final (final exam) will follow the same pattern:

  1. There will be reading and a reading quiz.
  2. There will be a small-group teach-one-another activity involving working through a problem set.
  3. There will be a weekly research project or lab.


There will be about two dozen pages of reading in the textbook and a couple research articles. The details for each reading assignment will be presented at the beginning of each week. After you have completed the reading, please take the preparation quiz. You may take the quiz up to five times, the highest of which will be retained. In other words, stop when you reach 100%.

You will have until 11:59pm Monday night (Mountain time) to complete each preparation quiz.

Problem Set

Every week (except the first, tenth, and last) will have a problem set. You are to complete this with the other members of your group. This group will be assigned to you after the first week of the semester and you will continue working with them for the remainder of the semester. Get to know the members of your group individually; they will be a great resource. You are to work on the problems in the problem-set together. Please do not divide-and-conquer the problems; the best groups work on each problem together. There is often not a clear-cut answer for the problems; you will need to debate various approaches with the members of your group. The first week, the instructor will assign roles to the various members of your group. After that time, the members of the group will make role assignments. You can expect to operate in each of the roles several times during the course of the semester. You will have until 11:59pm Thursday night (Mountain time) to complete each.

Lab or Research

Every week will have a lab or research project. Some will be done individually, some in a small team, and others will involve the whole class. Some will be programming problems; some will be research problems. The details of each will be presented in each week's assignment.

You will have until Saturday at 11:59 p.m. (Mountain time) to complete each.

Midterm and Final

There will be a midterm towards the middle of the semester and a final exam. Both are open book and will be taken online through Canvas. You may use the book, your notes, and lab assignments. The exams will consist of a mix of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, essay, and practical application questions.


The grading breakdown for the class will be the following:

Reading 20% Thirteen reading quizzes due Monday night (mountain time). Most weeks, there will be about thirty pages of reading.
Problem Set 20% There will be one problem set per week, due Thursday night (mountain time) to be completed as a group.
Lab or Research 50% There will be one assignment per week, each tailored to the specific needs of the week. No two will be alike.
Midterm & Final 10% The midterm and final will be open-book and consist of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, essay, and practical application questions.

Grades are as follows:

100% → 90% A: Demonstrated mastery of the class
89.9% → 80% B: All of the key concepts and skills have been learned
79.9% → 70% C: Acceptable, but you might want to retake the class
69.9% → 60% D: Developing, the class has yet to be mastered
59.9% → 0% F: Failed to understand or complete the course

There will also be the usual +’s and -’s. All grades are reported on I-Learn. If you feel that I-Learn does not accurately reflect your earned grade, please discuss this with your instructor.

Most of the learning activities have a time estimate associated with them. These signify how long it takes the average student to complete the activity for the average grade. Some students will complete the assignment significantly faster or slower than the average, and getting an "above average" grade may take much more time and effort. Please use the estimates as guidelines; they are not guarantees.


There are a few more key pieces to keep in mind about the course:

Plagiarism and Cheating

You may work with your classmates but all submitted work for assignments must be original. Share ideas; do not share code! Assistance from a classmate should be on par with the help you would expect from a lab assistant. The penalty for copying or plagiarizing of assignments might be one or more of the following: -100% on an assignment, being asked to withdraw from the class, a failing grade in the class, or disciplinary action by the university. For more information about this, please see the article CSE 453: Plagiarism.

Late Work

Late work will generally not be accepted in this class. That being said, there are exceptions. If you know of an upcoming event that will keep you from turning something in on-time, you need to make prior arrangements with the instructor. As a general rule, the instructor will be more accommodating before the due date than after.


There will be two main ways to communicate with the instructor in CSE 453: BYU-Idaho email and the Announcements.

  • Email: All students are required to use their BYU-Idaho e-mail when communicating with the instructor. Please do not count on using the phone (unless explicitly arranged by the instructor), Facebook, smoke signals, Canvas e-mail, or any other form of communication. The instructor will answer all your e-mails in less than 24 hours. Please contact your instructor directly for questions about your grade.
  • Announcements: The instructor will post announcements at least two times a week. Sometimes this will be personal insights about the topic of the week. Sometimes this will be answers to questions. Please check the announcements every day.

In addition to this, you will be assigned to a team in the second week. Expect to collaborate with members of your team on most assignments through the course of the semester. They should be the first people you turn to for just about anything.

University Policies

Students with Disabilities

Brigham Young University-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at (208) 496-9210 or visit their website and follow the Steps for Receiving Accommodations. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with students and instructors by the Disability Services Office.

This course includes required synchronous meetings. If you are currently registered with the Disability Services Office and need an interpreter or transcriber for these meetings, please contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator at (208) 496-9219.

Other University Policies

Student Honor and Other Policies

Please read through the document called University Policies. It gives important information about the following topics:

  • Student Honor
    • Academic Honesty
    • Student Conduct
      • Sexual Harassment
  • Student with Disabilities
  • Complaints and Grievances
  • Copyright Notice

Go to the Student Resources module to review further resources and information.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due