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COMPM062 - Computer Security I

This database contains 2016-17 versions of the syllabuses. For current versions please see here.

CodeCOMPM062 (Also taught as COMPGA01)
Taught ByGeorge Danezis (100%)
AimsThis module provides an introduction to computer security concepts and techniques. It covers core security principles to engineer systems that provide certain properties, like confidentiality, integrity or availability, despite the efforts of malicious entities to subvert them. We will study military and commercial security design patterns, but also topics around privacy, censorship, or pervasive surveillance. All topics are approached from a security engineer perspective, but also from the perspective of someone who aims to bypass security protections.
Learning OutcomesStudents will learn how to recognise security properties of systems, as well as formulate security policies, and model the threats they may face. Through exposure to a number of established industry and government security mechanisms and design patterns, they will be able to select appropriate controls to guarantee that the security policies are robustly implemented and may sustain efforts to subvert them. Conversely, students will gain skills in analysing computer systems, and developing strategies to bypass security controls.


The course is organized in 10 topics. The first half of the course covers basic principles; access control; UNIX, Windows and Android security; high-confidentiality government systems; high-integrity commercial systems, including banking and medical informatics. The second half dives goes into the details of technical protection mechanisms and computer attacks including hardware mechanisms; network defences and attacks; authentication & identification; and applied cryptography.

Method of Instruction

Lecture presentations with associated class coursework.


The course has the following assessment components:

  • Written Examination (2.5 hours, 85%)
  • Coursework Section (1 piece, 15%) due in week 10.

To pass this course, students must:

  • Obtain an overall pass mark of 50% for all sections combined
  • Obtain a minimum mark of 40% in each component worth ≥ 30% of the module as a whole.


Dieter Gollmann "Computer Security" (3rd edition, but 2nd is also fine) - available in the UCL library  


Ross Anderson "Security Engineering"  (Also available on-line at: ~rja14/book.html)