The University of Southampton

COMP3217 Secure Systems

Module Overview

The course requires to understand C code, assembly language, x86 architectures and memory allocation (a refresher will be provided).

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to equip students with the necessary skills and experience to understand, and attempt to counter, the principal threats to data and electronic system security. It is compulsory for students wishing to obtain a GCHQ accredited MSc in Cyber Security.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The range of cyber physical and software systems which present potential security hazards
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Take straightforward measures to protect systems from security breaches
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand and recognise instances of the principal attacks on such systems


Background: types of attack and attacker, range of systems Software systems and vulnerabilities - Software Vulnerabilities: Buffer overflow - Reverse engineering of suspicious codes OS vulnerabilities: patch management, rootkits and viruses - Penetration testing Cyber Physical - Side channel attacks: power analysis and resistant designs - Wireless ID: ISO14443, Mifare, E-Passports and related near-field communications systems - Card security, EMV payment systems, GSM and SIM cards - Physical security: chip and pin machines, secure modules - Wired and WiFi network security - Examples of weak cryptosystems: GSM, WEP - Infrastructure attacks: smart grids - Cloud computing security

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This is an unusually intensive module. There are thirty-six lectures and a further four two-hour laboratories, making for a total of 44 contact hours. Further reading and code practice outside the lectures and laboratories will be essential.

Wider reading or practice22
Completion of assessment task46
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Follow-up work18
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Eilam, E. (2005). Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering. 

Ross J Anderson (2008). Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems. 

Gollmann, D. (2011). Computer Security. 

Anderson, R. J. (2008). Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems. 


Assessment Strategy

There will be four assessed practical laboratories, related to the topics taught in the module.


MethodPercentage contribution
Laboratory Report 25%
Laboratory Report 25%
Laboratory Report 25%
Laboratory Report 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: ELEC1201 or COMP1202 or COMP6238

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.