Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Applied Cryptography

It is not a secret that I enjoy teaching tremendously. Over the last few decades, I have taught at several universities, as well as for the SANS Institute. As a matter of fact, I have a new SANS Mentor class coming up in December.

For some reason (which isn't entire clear to me quite yet), I have agreed to teach a full-semester undergraduate Applied Cryptography course. I have pretty much settled on the materials that I will be using, and the topics that I will be covering. Most crypto courses are driven by the Math department, and math isn't my greatest hobby, to put it mildly.

However much I would like it, math is unavoidable when talking about cryptography. However, for my purposes, having some knowledge about the mathematical underpinnings of ciphers and methods of cryptanalysis is enough; full formal proofs and in-depth coverage of theory are not required. Given that situation, this course could actually be fun. 

I plan on having students implement basic cryptography, and work on some cryptanalysis. If I can get the message across that it is pretty much ALWAYS a bad plan to invent and/or implement your own ciphers, and give them a good feeling for what strengths and weaknesses of existing ciphers are so that they can make informed choices, I'll be a happy camper. 

Structuring the course like that will also allow me to play with recent events ("BEAST"), as well as given them a better understanding why --insecure and --no-check-certificate are options that aren't always the most appropriate. 

I would love to hear from people with an interest in applied cryptography what they would like to see undergrad Computer Science students and Information Systems students be exposed to.

Updated on November 19, 2012: Removed broken link

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