F21CN Computer Network Security

Dr Hamish TaylorDr Mike JustDr Hani Ragab Hassen

Course co-ordinator(s): Dr Hamish Taylor (Edinburgh), Dr Mike Just (Edinburgh), Dr Hani Ragab Hassen (Dubai).


  • Impart critical understanding of key concepts, issues, theories and principles of computer network security.
  • Develop detailed theoretical and practical knowledge of foundational issues in computer network security.
  • Provide detailed understanding and practical experience with key services and tools used for computer network security purposes.
  • Give practical experience of analysing requirements, designing, implementing and testing security solutions for computer network applications.

Detailed Information

Pre-requisites: Fundamental knowledge of computer networking, formal methods and Java programming.

Location: Dubai, Edinburgh.

Semester: 1.


  • Security concepts and definitions, basics of cryptography (concepts, definitions, steganography), symmetric cryptography (historical, hash functions, MACs, block and stream encryption), asymmetric cryptography (basic number theory, RSA, DH, digital signatures), cryptographic key management, operating system security (concepts, memory management, buffer overflow, race conditions, file/disk encryption), security-enhanced Linux, authentication & access control (biometrics, passwords, role- and capability-based), as well as some Linux-based security tools (e.g., GPG, openssl).
  • Computer network security concepts, X.800 model - attacks, mechanisms, services. Computer network layers, reference model, TCP/IP and its vulnerabilities. Network service fundamentals - sockets, services, threads and their protection. Digests – MD5, symmetric ciphers, JCE. Digital signatures, public key certificates.  X.509 certificates, certificate authorities and hierarchical trust models. Secure key exchange – Diffie Hellman, SSL/TLS, SSH. Applets, Java security model and tools, signing applets with CA keys. PGP public keys, OpenPGP, web of trust, network security tools - VPNs, Firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems, malware scanners.

Learning Outcomes: Subject Mastery

Understanding, Knowledge and Cognitive Skills Scholarship, Enquiry and Research (Research-Informed Learning)

  • Detailed and critical understanding of the concepts, issues, principles and theories of computer network security
  • Critical theoretical and detailed practical knowledge of a range of computer network security technologies as well as network security tools and services
  • Practical experience of analysing, designing, implementing and validating solutions to computer network security challenges using common network security tools and formal methods.

Learning Outcomes: Personal Abilities

Industrial, Commercial & Professional Practice Autonomy, Accountability & Working with Others Communication, Numeracy & ICT

  • Ability to deal with complex issues and make informed judgements about network security in the absence of complete or consistent data.
  • Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in addressing computer network security challenges.
  • Showing initiative and team working skills in shared computer network security application development. (PDP)
  • Demonstrate critical reflection on network security issues. (PDP

Assessment Methods:

Assessment: Examination: (weighting – 60%) Coursework 1: (weighting – 20%) Coursework 2: (weighting – 20%)
Re-assessment:  Examination: (weighting – 100%)

SCQF Level: 11.

Credits: 15.