Computer Systems Engineering (3 Years) [BEng]

Cryptography & Network Security

Unit code: COMP38411
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 3
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by School of Computer Science
Available as a free choice unit?: Y



Additional Requirements

Students who are not from the School of Computer Science must have permission from both Computer Science and their home School to enrol.


This course unit aims to introduce the principles and practice of cryptography and network security. It covers cryptography, network-based security threats and vulnerabilities, and practical solutions to system and network security. It is designed for students who have some understanding of computer networks and protocols, but no background in security.


The spectacular growth of the Internet has spawned an increased awareness in security issues. This course unit covers security threats and vulnerabilities, principles of cryptography, and practical security solutions for networked and Internet environments. It aims to teach students principles and practices of cryptography and network security.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes are detailed on the COMP38411 course unit syllabus page on the School of Computer Science's website for current students.

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Research

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 100%


Introduction to Security

basic notions of security (confidentiality, integrity and availability), risk assessment, security threats, models, policies, and mechanisms


conventional ciphers, block cipher and stream cipher operations, introduction to number theory, public-key ciphers, message authentication code and cryptographic hash functions, digital signatures, Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs), cryptographic key management and distribution

System and Software Security

user identification and authentication, single sign on, authorisation, software security

Internet Security

IP security, transport layer security, web security

Advanced Security Topics

wireless local area network (WLAN) security, ad hoc network security, e-commerce security, Cloud computing security


Recommended reading

COMP38411 reading list can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.

Feedback methods

Via question/answer sessions.

Study hours

  • Lectures - 22 hours
  • Practical classes & workshops - 16 hours
  • Independent study hours - 62 hours

Teaching staff

Ning Zhang - Unit coordinator

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