UIUC Advanced Computer Security - Spring 21

ECE 524 / CS 563 - Spring 2021 - Advanced Computer Security


Preliminary schedule (kept up to date, check frequently)

Reading list

Preliminary reading list (may not be updated, use this for bidding)


  • Instructor: Andrew Miller <soc1024@illinois.edu>
  • Lecture times: Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30pm - 4:45pm Central Time
  • Office hours: Mondays 3:00pm-4:00pm
  • TA: Tom Yurek (office hours: Fridays 3:00pm-4:00pm)
  • Zoom: for regularly schedulued synchronous online lectures (find link on piazza)
  • Piazza for announcements: https://piazza.com/illinois/spring2021/ece524cs563/home
  • Discord: for synchronous discussions, breakout rooms (find link on piazza)

Course Info

Computer security continues to be one of the most challenging topics in computer science, and an especially active research field. This course aims to go in depth into a selection of topics in computer security, building up an exposure to foundational concepts and research methodologies along the way. The reading list is organized along a few broad questions or themes:

  • What lessons from programming language security can be applied to complicated software ecosystems like npm and blockchain smart contracts?
  • Cutting edge cryptography is advancing at a quick pace. What new systems can we build with these that would have been impossible to do securely before?
  • Usability in security
  • What role does the computer security of social media platforms play in societal issues like polarization and misinformation?

To tackle each question, we'll encounter a breadth of methodologies, including applied cryptography, usability, network measurement, systems design and analysis, software analysis, and more.

This is a research-focused course, so it assumes as a prerequisite that you have already taken undergraduate computer security courses (such as ECE422 / CS461, ECE/CS463), or have otherwise had some exposure to computer security topics. Students are expected to read, review, present, and discuss research papers from the literature, and to complete a final project that culminates with a conference-paper quality report.

In Spring 2021, the course will entirely be online, with lectures meeting synchronously and conducted online via Zoom. Recordings will be made available afterwards, and you are encouraged to participate to the extent your circumstances can, whether by video, voice only, chat only, in that order of preference. There is a synchronous lecture component.


The expectations for all ECE/CS 563 students are as follows:

  • Participate: Students will attend every class and actively participate in class discussions.
  • Read Literature: Students will read all of the assigned papers in advance of each class.
  • Write Reviews: For each class, students will select one (1) of the assigned readings and prepare a "peer review"-style reaction paper. These reviews will be submitted prior to the start of the class and graded by the instructor. Details about paper summary expectations will be discussed in the first class as part of the introductory material.
  • Present Literature: Students will present research papers and lead the ensuing class discussion.
  • Complete a Term Project: Students will conduct a major research project in security, with the primary deliverable being a conference-style paper at the end of the semester.

Final project information

Project topics will be discussed in class after the introductory material is completed. As part of the term project, there will be another milestones throughout the semester (e.g., project proposals) that will be graded as homework assignment and discussed with the instructor outside of class. Projects teams may include groups of up to 3 students; however, groups of greater size will be expected to make greater progress. Prof. Miller (and Tom) will advise each team/individual independently as needed. The project grade will be a combination of grades received for a number of milestone artifacts and the final conference-quality report.

Academic {Integrity, Availability, Confidentiality}

Academic Integrity https://www.ece.illinois.edu/academics/grad/overview/general-info.asp "The faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering expects all students to maintain academic integrity at all times in the classroom and the research laboratory and to conduct their academic work in accordance with the highest ethical standards of the engineering profession. Students are expected to maintain academic integrity by refraining from academic dishonesty, and by refraining from conduct which aids others in academic dishonesty or which leads to suspicion of academic dishonesty. Violations of academic integrity will result in disciplinary actions ranging from failing grades on assignments and courses to probation, suspension or dismissal from the University."

You should be aware of the Student Code, especially Article 1, Part 4: Academic Integrity http://studentcode.illinois.edu/.

Students with Disabilities If you have disability-related concerns or require accomodations to partiicpate in this course, please contact both Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) as well as the instructor as soon as possible. To contact DRES you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-4603 (V/TDD), or e-mail a message to disability@uiuc.edu. http://www.disability.illinois.edu/.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Any student who has suppressed their directory information pursuant to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) should self-identify to the instructor to ensure protection of the privacy of their attendance in this course. See http://registrar.illinois.edu/ferpa for more information on FERPA.