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CSC8207 : Security Analysis of Complex Systems

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Narges Khakpour
  • Lecturer: Dr Charles Morisset, Mr Mujeeb Ahmed
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


Complex systems, such as industrial control systems or electronic voting systems, include social, cyber and physical aspects, which can all be exploited by attackers. Users are often wrongly portrayed as “the weakest link”, when the problem lies in the lack of a usable and secure system. The security analysis of a complex system therefore requires a holistic approach, leveraging a range of techniques.
The aim of this module is to study techniques required for complex systems, using concrete case studies as well as exploring possible future attacks. The module covers, through the study of research papers and technical reports, attacks against complex systems, as well as techniques to detect, respond to and prevent such attacks.
The complex systems studied during the module will reflect current research and technical challenges, for example: industrial control systems and cyber-physical infrastructure, social engineering techniques, human aspects of security, forensics analysis, or machine learning based intrusion and misuse detection.

Outline Of Syllabus

- Security of complex systems (e.g., industrial control systems, smart grids)
- Sophisticated attack mechanisms (e.g., adversarial machine learning)
- Usable Security and Privacy
- Social Engineering Techniques

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials600:1515:00Lecture materials
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00Lecture follow-up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Preparation for coursework
Guided Independent StudyProject work301:0030:00Coursework
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion51:005:00Discussion on forum
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study201:0020:00Background reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk51:005:00Lecture material introductioin and discussion
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture material (using both recorded videos and written/interactive material) will be used to teach fundamental concepts and to introduce technical and research papers on 4 different topics. The module is first introduced by a module talk, and then each of the 4 topics is introduced by a specific module talk. Learners are expected to follow-up lectures within a few days, and to read the selected background material uploaded online. The small group teaching sessions will allow learners to work with several demonstrators on topics related to the coursework, and learners are expected to actively participate on the discussion forum.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M1002,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module is in general directly informed by current research, and the assessment includes an aspect of critical thinking and application of research techniques. Students are also assessed on their awareness of current security problems for complex systems, provided in the teaching material.

Reading Lists