CMSC 818F: Securing and Monetizing the Internet:

Dave Levin and Elaine Shi
CSI 3120
Lecture Times
Tues 5:15pm-6:30pm (Snacks and drinks provided)

Course Description

    New cloud-based services like targeted advertising, elastic computing and storage, online social networks, and content distribution networks are changing how the Internet is used, monetized, and secured. The goal of this course is to identify new problems of security and incentives in online services. We will take a hands-on approach, investigating how these new services are designed and used today, and the (financial) relationship between various stake-holders. We will also cover relevant background on techniques used to solve these problems, particularly from cryptography (e.g., verified computation, and digital cash) and economics (e.g., game theory and mechanism design).

    Topics covered will include:

    -- symbiotic relationships between cloud players
    -- verifiable resource accounting in cloud computing and networking
    -- accountability and privacy in financial transactions and virtual economies
    -- incentive-driven system designs
    -- digital cash and applications, including e-cash and bitcoin
    -- fraud, underground economy, and defense techniques
    -- applications of cryptography such as e-cash and verifiable computing

    This is a research-oriented course focusing on reading and mini-research projects. The class will integrate theory and practice, so both theory and system students can benefit from it: theory students can find new theoretical problems from real-world applications, while systems students can learn new theoretic building blocks.

Tentative topics and papers


Class Format

The class is research oriented. There will typically be two papers a week (plus the occasional guest speaker, class-long presentation, project report, etc.). Everyone will be expected to read and comment on the papers ahead of time. For each paper, a student will give a 10-20 minute talk giving an overview of it (guideline: no more than 10 slides plus a title), followed by a class-wide discussion about the paper. Each student will give two of these talks, which can either be about a paper or about some project, measurement, use case, etc. Please confirm with Dave and Elaine two weeks ahead of time what you will talk about. The course will be roughly organized by topic: Some sample papers for each of these topics can be found on the syllabus.


25% Class participation
25% Reading notes and critique
50% Presentations


No prerequisite for graduate students, although sufficient security background is expected. For undergraduate students, please check with the instructor.

The above information is subject to change.

Web Accessibility