COSC437-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024

Special Topic

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 2024


Special Topic


Security protocols, or cryptographic protocols, ensure the reliable communication and data exchange between different entities or systems over the Internet. These protocols are commonly used to protect against unauthorized access, data tampering, and other security threats, which often involve cryptographic techniques to secure the transmission of sensitive information. However, over the years, there have been numerous flaws and exploits found in the design and implementation of cryptographic protocols, such as Heartbleed (2014, Buffer overflow attack on OpenSSL) and KRACK (2017, Key installation attack on WPA2).

COSC437 systematically introduces methodologies that help to exploit flaws in protocol design and to prove that a system is indeed correct. We will study the philosophy underlying security protocol design, analyse attack patterns, and get familiar with formal verification tools. Overall, the course will cover topics in formal methods, applied cryptography, key management, provable security, web3 and blockchain technologies.

COSC362 Data and Network Security or Approval from HOD

Learning Outcomes

  • Become familiar with the cryptographic building blocks and understand how they are used in the design of security protocols;
  • Critically analyse security protocols by using formal analysis;
  • Write code for formal models and prove a claim with formal verification tools;
  • Develop a good understanding that security is always conditional, and a proof of security is only valid under certain assumptions.


Subject to approval by Head of Department.

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 08:00 - 10:00 Psychology - Sociology 210
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct

Timetable Note

Time Commitment: 150 hours

24hr Lecture (2hr/week – 12 weeks)

126hr Self-directed learning (reading notes, books, and writing code)

Course Coordinator

Chenyi Zhang


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Assignment 40%
Essay and Presentation 20%
Final Exam 40% Final Exam

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Bruce Schneier: Applied Cryptography Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C, John Wiley & Sons 1996, 784 Pages

Leslie Lamport: Specifying systems: the TLA+ language and tools for hardware and software engineers, Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co. 2002, 364 pages (available on the internet with video classes)

Arvind Narayanan: Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies: a comprehensive introduction, Princeton University Press, 2016.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,110.00

International fee $5,275.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Computer Science and Software Engineering .

All COSC437 Occurrences

  • COSC437-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024