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Unit outline_

COMP5618: Applied Cybersecurity

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal evening] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Digital technologies permeate every part of our lives. The internet has created a more open society, allowing us to create, share and access information and knowledge freely. As more of the services we rely on are digitised and available to use over the web, the more our identity, productivity, access to information, connectivity, social connections and financial well-being depends on information security. Consequently, a deep understanding of both offensive and defensive security techniques is fast becoming essential knowledge for a career in computing. This course will provide in-depth knowledge of offensive security that will prepare the student for work in any technical field where they will are responsible for the development or maintenance of sensitive systems. The course begins by introducing the basic tools used by hackers, before highlighting the common weaknesses- and mitigations- for various levels of the technology stack, such as web applications, operating systems and corporate networks. Finally, students are provided practical insights into careers in information security in the areas of attack detection, prevention and defence. Students will develop the skills necessary to both gain access to test computers and to defend test networks from attack.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Computer Science
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

(ELEC5616 OR INFO2315 OR INFO2222) with a grade of Credit or greater

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Suranga Seneviratne,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Open book) Type C final exam Final examination
The final examination is a two hours open book exam.
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Participation group assignment Practical lab participation and task completion
Task completion and submit short video demonstrations in Canvas.
10% Multiple weeks n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO9 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO3
Assignment group assignment Assignment 1 - security incident paper review
10% Week 07 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO9
Assignment Assignment 2 - penetration defence
15% Week 10
Due date: 16 Oct 2022 at 23:59
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO9 LO6 LO5
Online task In-class test - Web security
Online quiz
10% Week 11 1 Hour
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO9 LO7 LO6
Assignment Assignment 3 - mobile CTF
Completion of assignment tasks and submitting a report in Canvas.
15% Week 12
Due date: 30 Oct 2022 at 23:59
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO9 LO7 LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type C final exam = Type C final exam ?

Assessment summary

Tutorial Task Completion (10%): Each week, the tutorial will contain a task related to security design, penetration testing, reverse engineering etc., and it needs to be completed and submitted as a short video in Canvas.

Defensive System Review (15%): The students will be given a Linux system with a web application, and the goal is it find its security vulnerabilities and make a report including recommendations. 

Mobile CTF (15%): The assessment involves finding vulnerabilities in mobile applications through reverse engineering and submitting a report.

In-class quiz (10%): Throughout the whole semester, students will have access to the Secure Code Warrior (SCW), which consists of a series of online exercises about security issues and code review, which can be worked on as homework. The in-class quiz in Canvas will cover the topics learned in the SCW platform.

Security incident paper review (10%): Students will write a summary essay about a real-world security incident and give the class a brief overview of this incident.

Final examination (40%): A written exam on all aspects of the course, focussing on the students’ understanding of the covered security technologies and measures.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard. It is a policy of the School of Computer Science that in order to pass this unit, a student must achieve at least 40% in the written examination. For subjects without a final exam, the 40% minimum requirement applies to the corresponding major assessment component specified by the lecturer. A student must also achieve an overall final mark of 50 or more. Any student not meeting these requirements may be given a maximum final mark of no more than 45 regardless of their average.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

As per the university policy. Details will be advertised in the class and each assessment.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Ethics, environment, and tools Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO8
Week 02 Networking and infrastructure Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO9
Week 03 Networking - traversal Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5 LO9
Week 04 Mobile security - static analysis and reverse engineering Lecture (1 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 05 Mobile security - dynamic analysis Lecture (1 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 06 Web applications - common vulnerabilities and threats Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 07 Web vulnerability scanners Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Week 08 Linux security Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 09 Cryptography and Hashes Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5 LO7
Week 10 Practical Vulnerability Scanning and Exploitation Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5 LO7 LO9
Week 11 Guest lecture (Topic TBD) Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO8 LO9
Week 12 Digital Forensics Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO6 LO8
Week 13 UoS Summary Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7 LO9

Attendance and class requirements

Study commitment: Students will participate in weekly lectures (1 hour each) and weekly labs/ tutorials (2 hours each). Each lab will cover practical aspects of cybersecurity where students try to do security configurations or pen-testing of various IT systems and setups. This course includes a ‘mobile capture the flag’ (CTF) competition whereby students will attempt to reverse engineer different mobile app codes. Students will need access to a live-boot persistent Kali Linux USB drive (or a virtual machine) to be used as their ‘attacking’ system and a network-based host, which they use to practice defence.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. present and discuss a security incident with security experts
  • LO2. understand security measures to defend against malicious technical attacks leveled against connected systems
  • LO3. understand the implementation of infrastructure to detect and defend against network-based attacks
  • LO4. research information on security issues from the literature, and analyse a security incident use case
  • LO5. demonstrate practical knowledge of penetration testing via hands-on experience with standard industry tools
  • LO6. understand audit trails and identify where those should be implemented for use in incident response
  • LO7. understand the software infrastructure for modern web-based, mobile, and cloud-hosted applications
  • LO8. demonstrate knowledge of ethical and legal aspects of IT security and data privacy
  • LO9. recognise and resolve weaknesses in commonly-used systems.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered.

“IMPORTANT: School policy relating to Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism. In assessing a piece of submitted work, the School of Computer Science may reproduce it entirely, may provide a copy to another member of faculty, and/or to an external plagiarism checking service or in-house computer program and may also maintain a copy of the assignment for future checking purposes and/or allow an external service to do so.”


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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