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Unit outline_

ELEC5616: Computer and Network Security

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit examines the basic cryptographic building blocks of security, working through to their applications in authentication, key exchange, secret and public key encryption, digital signatures, protocols and systems. It then considers these applications in the real world, including models for integrity, authentication, electronic cash, viruses, firewalls, electronic voting, risk assessment, secure web browsers and electronic warfare. Practical cryptosystems are analysed with regard to the assumptions with which they were designed, their limitations, failure modes and ultimately why most end up broken.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Electrical and Information Engineering
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

A programming language, basic maths

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Mahyar Shirvanimoghaddam,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Open book) Type C final exam Final Exam
The exam is held during the formal exam period.
50% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment group assignment Project 1
9% Week 05 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Tutorial quiz Quiz 1
1.25% Week 06 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
Assignment group assignment Project 2
9% Week 10 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Tutorial quiz Quiz 2
1.25% Week 11 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
Assignment group assignment Project 3
7% Week 12 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6
Assignment group assignment Wargames
12.5% Week 13 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO6
Assignment Assignments
10% Week 13 n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type C final exam = Type C final exam ?

Assessment summary

50% Final exam

50% Quiz/Assignment

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.

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:

Please contact lecturer well ahead of time if you experience difficulties meeting submission deadlines.

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 Overview; Hash Fns/HMACs Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 Ciphers; PRNGs & Modes of operation Lecture (2 hr)  
Breaking HMACs Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 03 Attacks on DES; Key Management Lecture (2 hr)  
PRNGs, XOR, and DES Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 04 Number Theory; Attacks on RSA Lecture (2 hr)  
Skynet project part 1, Git & Phabricator Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 05 Digital Signatures; Authentication Lecture (2 hr)  
Finalise project part 1 Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 06 Cryptographic Protocols 1; Overview of SSL/TLS Lecture (2 hr)  
Project part 2 Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 07 Cryptographic Protocols 2; Overview of Network Security Lecture (2 hr)  
Project part 2; Questions from lectures Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 09 Bitcoins Lecture (2 hr)  
Project part 2 & part 3; Questions from lectures Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 10 Network Protocols Lecture (2 hr)  
Finalise project part 2; Assignment released Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 11 Web Security Lecture (2 hr)  
Project Part 3 Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 12 Wireless & Hardware security Lecture (2 hr)  
Finalise project part 3 Computer laboratory (2 hr)  
Week 13 Software Security; Politics; Quantum Lecture (2 hr)  
Assignment & Exam Questions Computer laboratory (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Assumed knowledge: A programming language, basic maths.

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.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

  • William Stallings, Cryptography and Network Security: Principles and Practice (4th). Prentice Hall, 1999. 0130914290. 
  • A. Menezes, P. Van Oorscho, S. Vanstone, Handbook of Applied Cryptography (5th). CRC Press, 0-8493-8523-7.

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. demonstrate the ability to write reports and make presentations on the complexity of security system design and its related performance, using clear and accurate terms and a language commensurate with the expected level of understanding by stakeholders
  • LO2. demonstrate the ability to work in a team, taking up clear roles and responsibilities while drawing on skills and knowledge of other team members in order to deliver specific engineering work
  • LO3. demonstrate the ability to compare and contrast practical cryptosystems and the assumptions with which they were designed to determine their failure modes and to design a cryptosystem to a specification
  • LO4. demonstrate the ability to appraise applicability and value of cryptography in authentication, key exchange, secret and public key encryption, digital signatures, protocols and systems
  • LO5. demonstrate proficient use of software system knowledge and cryptography in designing and evaluating security schemes
  • LO6. demonstrate the ability to undertake inquiry and knowledge development by first identifying the limits of the available information on security systems and then effectively searching and synthesising the information most pertinent.

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 significant changes have been made since this unit was last offered


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

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.