CMPS 4510 Vulnerability Analysis
Catalog Description
CMPS 4510 Vulnerability Analysis (4)
Identification and quantification of security weaknesses, primarily in source code and executables. Topics include professional ethics, source code auditing, common source code errors, the runtime stack and memory systems, common attacks against executables, risk assessment, vulnerability classification, static binary analysis, and mitigation techniques. Prerequisites: CMPS 2240 and 3500
Prerequisites by Topic
Knowledge of an assembly language (Intel, MIPS, etc.)
Knowledge of the runtime stack and basic memory layout
Knowledge of programming languages in the C/C++ family
Knowledge of formal computer language grammar
Basic understanding of computer language translation from source code to binary
Units and Contact Time
4 semester units. 3 units lecture (150 minutes), 1 unit lab (150 minutes).
Class Expectations
As a 4000-level elective, students are expected to engage in independent learning in this course through reading assignments, case studies, and a group project. Critical thinking, independent evaluation, and troubleshooting are important traits for the cybersecurity profession.

Lectures after the third week assume that you have completed the reading assignments and will focus on exploring examples and scenarios, including modern vulnerabilities and exploits, related to the topics of the week. Case studies will also analyze more modern examples of vulnerabilities.
Selected elective for CS
Required Textbook
The Art of Software Security Assessment: Identifying and Preventing Software Vulnerabilities. Mark Dowd, John McDonald, Justin Schuh. Addison-Wesley, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-0-321-44442-4.
Recommended Textbook and Other Supplemental Materials
Computer Security: Art and Science, 2nd edition. Matt Bishop. Addison-Wesley, 2019, ISBN-13: 978-0321712332.
(Note: There is an abridged version of the first edition of this book available that is titled "Introduction to Computer Security")

Supporting articles and articles about currrent vulnerability/exploit events will be posted to the course website.
Melissa Danforth
Student Learning Outcomes
This course covers the following ACM/IEEE CS2013 (Computer Science) Body of Knowledge student learning outcomes:

CS-IAS/Foundational Concepts in Security
CS-IAS/Principles of Secure Design
CS-IAS/Defensive Programming
CS-IAS/Threats and Attacks
CS-PL/Static Analysis
CS-SE/Software Construction

ABET Outcome Coverage
The course maps to the following performance indicators for Computer Science (CAC/ABET):
4. An ability to recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles.
Professional ethics and legal issues are integrated into this course and students will complete at least one homework assignment related to this topic.
6 [CS]. An ability to apply computer science theory and software development fundamentals to produce computing-based solutions.
Homework and laboratory assignments investigate how vulnerabilities in source code can arise from common mistakes, lack of understanding about the details of the high-level language, valuing optimization over security, and other causes. Through this intensive investigation, students will gain the awareness and skills to produce more secure code.
Lecture Topics and Rough Schedule
1Chapter 1 Professional ethics, Classic security goals (confidentiality, integrity, etc.), Threats and threat exposure, Vulnerability categories, Audit overview
1 and 2Chapter 2 Design reviews, Fundamental design flaws, Threat modeling
2 and 3Chapter 3 Operational review, Attack surfaces, Hardening
4 and 5Chapter 4 Audit process, Audit strategies, Auditing tools
5 to 7Chapter 5 Memory corruption: buffer overflows, heap overflows, global and static data, shellcode, protection mechanisms
8 to 10Chapter 6 C/C++ language issues, Expression evaluation, Type conversions, Common mistakes
11 to 13Chapter 8 String and character handling issues, String encoding, Metacharacter handling and injection issues, String functions, Hex encoding
13 and 14Chapter 7 Auditing techniques for source code analysis
15Outside information Hardware vulnerabilities (Spectre, Meltdown, etc.)
Laboratory Content Description
For the first half of the semester, laboratory assignments will focus on basic reverse engineering techniques including disassembly and static binary analysis using command line tools.

Remaining laboratory assignments will be complementary to the lecture topics including type conversion issues, metacharacter parsing, SQL injection attacks, and topical assignments based on current vulnerabilities.
Prepared By
Melissa Danforth on 31 July 2014 (revised 01 October 2019)
Approved by CEE/CS Department in Fall 2014 (revision approved in Fall 2019)
Effective Fall 2016 (revision effective Fall 2020)