Fall 2014

General Information

Catalog description | Class meetings | Who should take 6.858 | Communication | Grading | Turn-in | Collaboration | Staff

MIT catalog description

Prereq.: 6.033
G (H)

Design and implementation of secure computer systems. Lectures cover threat models, attacks that compromise security, and techniques for achieving security, based on recent research papers. Topics include operating system (OS) security, capabilities, information flow control, language security, network protocols, hardware security, and security in web applications. Assignments include labs that involve implementing and compromising a secure web server and web application, and a group final project.

Students can use 6.858 to fulfill the engineering concentration requirements for Computer Systems.

Class meetings

Lectures will be held MW 11-12:30 in 1-190.

Who should take 6.858?

6.858 is primarily intended for seniors and M.Eng students who want to learn about how to build secure computer systems in detail. PhD students are also welcome; 6.858 counts as a systems TQE subject.


We will distribute assignments and announcements on the course web site. We expect students to check the 6.858 home page for both news and assignments at least once a week. If you hear a rumor, check it there.

Grading policy

Grades in 6.858 will be based on the results of two quizzes (one in the middle of the term and one in the next-to-last week of classes, 20% in total), lab exercises (35%), final project and presentation (25%), and class participation and homeworks (together 20%). No quiz during final exam week. Lab exercises will be graded on the correctness based on both the lab assignment and whether they fulfill the specifications imposed by the grading/checking scripts. Grading will be done with a staff-version of the Makefile and grading scripts, so you should pass all the tests without any modifications to those files.

Turn-in policy

You are required to turn in each lab; if you have not turned in all of the labs, you will receive an F. Labs that are turned in but score 0 points will receive a D. You have a total of 72 late hours to use throughout the semester. After you have used up your late hours, each additional day late will incur a full letter grade penalty. Saturday and Sunday both count as days. (Late days are tracked automatically, so you don't need to email before using one.)


You may not collaborate on quizzes. You are welcome to discuss the labs with other students, but you should complete all assignments on your own, and you should carefully acknowledge all contributions of ideas by others, whether from classmates or from sources you have read. Final projects will be in groups, where you should collaborate.


E-Mail Office Telephone
James Mickens TBD TBD
Nickolai Zeldovich 32-G994 x3-6005

Teaching assistants
Office hours are held weekly in the locations listed below.
E-Mail Office Office Hours Location
Haogang Chen 32-G996 T 2:00-4:00pm 32-D507 (32-G882 for 9/9, 32-D407 for 12/2)
Joseph Driscoll TBD W 3:30-5:30pm 26-302
Webb Horn TBD R 4:30-6:30pm 26-314
Steven Valdez TBD M 1:30-3:30pm 32-D507 (32-G882 for 9/8)

Course mailing list: 6.858-staff@pdos.csail.mit.edu
Use this mailing list to contact all the 6.858 staff.

Questions or comments regarding 6.858? Send e-mail to the course staff at 6.858-staff@pdos.csail.mit.edu.

Top // 6.858 home // Last updated Friday, 29-Jan-2016 11:49:55 EST