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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Informatics : Informatics

Postgraduate Course: Secure Programming (INFR11098)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Informatics CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course studies the principles and practices of secure programming. Secure programming means writing programs in a safe fashion, to avoid vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers. It also means using security features provided by libraries, such as authentication and encryption, appropriately and effectively. A range of programming platforms will be considered, ranging from low-level (e.g. Android OS), through web programming (e.g., JavaScript and Python) to high-level large-scale languages (e.g., Java). New and emerging language-based security mechanisms will be examined, including ways of specifying and enforcing security policies statically and dynamically (e.g., to enforce access controls or information flow policies).
Course description - Security maintainance of deployed software systems, including "penetrate-and-patch", vulnerability enumeration (CVE IDs) and classification (CWE taxonomy).
- Secure programming techniques and common pitfalls, covering input validation, output filtering, use of cryptography and authentication. Standards such as the OWASP guidelines and the CERT Secure Coding Standards.
- Malware (including adware, spyware) and its use of software vulnerabilities as an attack vector. Programming resilience against malware.
- Low-level programming platforms, VMs and their security provisions, for example including process isolation, capabilities and permissions. Mobile operating system platforms as examples.
- Web programming platforms and security provisions. HTTP protocol, forms, clientside and server-side threats and their avoidance.
- High-level and Enterprise security programming, including cryptography via cryptographic libraries, authentication via GSSAPI.
- Security APIs and their distinction from cryptography APIs. Use and design of security APIs for key management, hashing and encryption. Implementation in hardware and software.
- Language-based techniques for assisting security programming, using dynamic enforcement via runtime monitoring and static enforcement via program analysis. Example tools.
- Methods and tools for taint checking and information flow tracking to manage programming with sensitive data. Privacy risks with lack of encapsulation.
- Methods and tools for controlling resource usage with permissions and capabilities, and static analysis for guarantees in advance.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Computer Security (INFR10058) OR Computer Security (INFR10067)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is open to all Informatics students including those on joint degrees. For external students where this course is not listed in your DPT, please seek special permission from the course organiser.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 16, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 16, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 64 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) You should expect to spend approximately 20 hours on the coursework for this course.
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
1. know how to respond to security alerts specifying CVE ID numbers which identify software issues;
2. identify possible security programming errors when conducting code reviews in languages such as Java, C or Python;
3. define a methodology for security testing and use appropriate tools in its implementation;
4. apply new security-enhanced programming models and tools which help ensure security goals, e.g.,with access control, information flow tracking, protocol implementation, or atomicity enforcement.
Reading List
- J. Viega and G. McGraw. Building Secure Software: How to Avoid Security Problems the Right Way. Addison-Wesley, 2001.
- M. Howard and D. LeBlanc. Writing Secure Code. Microsoft Press, second edition, 2003.
- David Basin, Patrick Schaller, Michael Schlapfer. Applied Information Security: A Hands-on Approach. Springer, 2011.
- Fred Long et al. The Oracle/CERT Secure Coding Standard for Java, Addison-Wesley, 2011. Available online at
- B. Chess and J. West. Secure Programming with Static Analysis. Addison-Wesley, 2007.
- The OWASP web application security project:
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr David Aspinall
Tel: (0131 6)50 5177
Course secretaryMr Gregor Hall
Tel: (0131 6)50 5194
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