During this introductory course, geared for students new to cyber security, students will be introduced to fundamental security topics. Students will critically examine concepts such as basic networking, system administration, team dynamics and system security as well as identifying and applying basic security hardening techniques. Students will gain practical experience through a virtualized lab environment where they will be building a small corporate network. Students will also work as a team towards the completion of a semester long research project of their choosing.

Faculty Instructors

Faculty Instructors are responsible for administering the course in accordance with the University at Buffalo policies and this syllabus. Faculty Instructors also determine final course grades consistent with the grading policy in this syllabus.

Name Email Chat Username
Dave Murray djmurray@buffalo.edu djmurray
Kevin Cleary kpcleary@buffalo.edu cleary.kevin.p

Student Instructors

Student Instructors are responsible for running the class. Most questions, unless believed to be sensitive, should go to someone from this list.

Name Email Chat Username
Alexander Bitar abitar@buffalo.edu alexanderbitar
Christopher Klimek cmklimek@buffalo.edu chrisklimek
Ross Ventresca rossvent@buffalo.edu ross
Stephen James sjames5@buffalo.edu stephenorjames
Vincent Bruno vnbruno@buffalo.edu vince

Course Resources

Website https://ubnetdef.org/courses/syssec
Chat Channel https://chat.ubnetdef.org
Wiki https://wiki.ubnetdef.org
vCenter Server cdr-vcenter1.cse.buffalo.edu
vCenter Client https://ubnetdef.org/vcenter
Homework Engine https://homework.ubnetdef.org
Virtual Box https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course a student will be able to… Assessment
Learn Basic Security Concepts and Topics Course
Defend a Machine from Real-time Attackers Course & Competitions
Work effectively in a team Project & Competitions
Identify threats and vulnerabilities of systems Course
Effectively communicate via written reports and presentation skills Project & Final Presentation

Course Requirements


Attendance for all lectures is required. Two absences or late arrival is permitted without penalty. Greater than two means you recieve an F in the course. Students arriving late or unprepared may also receive a penalty at the discretion of the instructor. Absences due to illness may be excused if the instructor is notified in advance, and the illness is documented by a physician or healthcare professional.

Competition Participation

All students are required to participate fully in at least two cyber-security competitions, including the UB Lockdown competition. Various competitions will be announced throughout the academic semester.

Homework Assignments

This section is subject to change.

Homework will generally be assigned twice each week, and will likely be based on the topics in the class schedule. Unless otherwise specified, they will be released and submitted at homework.ubnetdef.org (the "Homework Engine").

Class Schedule

This schedule is subject to change.

Week Topic Homework
Week 1 ISSA Guest Speaker Codecademy Command Line
Week 2 Tim Mongan Guest Lecture OverTheWire assignment
Week 3 Networking and Virtualization pfSense Runbook
Week 4 Linux Linux Setup
Week 5 Windows Windows Runbook
Week 6 ISSA Lock Picking Event
Week 7 Governance and Risk Management Executive Summary
Week 8 Spring Recess
Week 9 Firewalls and Services Services Homework
Week 10 Advanced Networking Networking Homework
Week 11 Packet Analysis and Logs TBD
Week 12 Working as a Team TBD
Week 13 TBA Prepare for Lockdown
Week 14 Lockdown Debrief and Guest Lecture Final Project
Week 15 TBA

Getting Assistance

The best way to request assistance is to ask on the Systems Security channel on UBNetDef’s chat server. The instructors and mentors are constantly on the server, so it’s likely you will get a response within 24-hours, if not less. If you do not have access to the UBNetDef chat server, please contact an instructor.

Grading Policy

Systems Security Grading Scale
Attendence 25%
Lockdown 20%
Final Project 20%
Weekly Assignments 15%
Mini-Projects (Runbooks/Technical Documentation) 15%
Extra Competition 5%
Total 100%
Systems Security Grading Scale
A 90%
A- 86.66%
B+ 83.33%
B 80%
B- 76.66%
C+ 73.33%
C 70%
C- 66.66%
D+ 63.66%
D 60%
D- 56.66%
F 0 - 53%

Course Conduct

Academic Integrity

Students must conduct their coursework in a manner that does not violate the University at Buffalo’s Academic Integrity Policy. Students found in violation of the Academic Integrity Policy will receive an F for the course.

Ethics Policy

As a student in cyber security, you are learning tools and given resources that are meant to help protect yourself and others. However, these tools and resources can also be used in malicious or illegal ways. It is imperative that while you are a representative of this class, and even well after, you perform any security education or training strictly inside our internal environment or a controlled and contained environment that you have prepared for yourself. Any activity outside of our internal environment is outside of our control and protection. If you are not sure what you’re doing, it is very easy to do something illegal without even knowing you are (even something as simple as port scanning outside our internal network). If you are unsure if something is allowed or not, contact one of the instructors or mentors. All network traffic inside our infrastructure will be monitored for malicious or suspicious activity and acted upon with severe consequences if such privileges are abused. You are being given an opportunity to learn, please do not waste it.

vCenter Usage

As a part of Systems Security, you are granted permissions to create Virtual Machines on the vCenter environment, for educational purposes. Any misuse of the environment will result in the immediate failure of the student.

Network Logging Disclaimer

All traffic that occurs within the vCenter environment is being logged for analysis purposes. Traffic captures (pcaps) may be shared with other individuals within UBNetDef for educational purposes only. We highly discourage logging into any personal or social networking websites on a Virtual Machine hosted in the vCenter environment.