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?: N



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 introduces students to the principles and practice of cryptography and network security, exploring popular cryptographic methods and security protocols and their applications for countering network-based security threats and attacks.

The course 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, security properties (confidentiality, integrity and availability), security vulnerabilities, threats and attacks, the use of attack trees in evaluating and classifying security vulnerabilities and threats, security models, policies and mechanisms

Cryptographic methods (or primitives)

classical encryption techniques, Feistel encryption and decryption, symmetrical (or conventional) ciphers, block cipher and stream cipher principles and operations, introduction to number theory, asymmetrical (or public-key) ciphers

cryptographic hash functions, Message Authentication Code (MACs), digital signatures

Establishing trust, cryptographic (or security) protocols

Diffie-Hellman key exchange, symmetric key distributions, digital certificates and Public Key Infrastructures (PKIs), user identification and authentication, single sign on, cryptographic protocol analysis and design

Network and Internet Security

IP security, web security, email security, Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) 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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