General Information

Catalog description | Class meetings | Who should take 6.858 | Communication | Grading | Turn-in | Collaboration | Warning | 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 TR 2:30-4 in 26-100.

Who should take 6.858?

6.858 is primarily intended for seniors and M.Eng students and PhD students who want to learn about how to build secure computer systems in detail. 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 schedule and piazza frequently. 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 final's week, 35% in total), labs 1-4 (35%), lab 5/final project (20%), and class participation and homeworks (e.g., lecture question and reading answer) (together 10%). We expect students to attend the two quizzes at the time/location posted on the schedule.

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.

Labs are due by 5pm on their due date (typically Friday).

You have a total of 72 late hours to use throughout the semester, allocated greedily. 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.


You'll learn how to attack computer systems in this class in order to better understand how to design defenses. Please don't attack other people's computers or information without their prior permission. As well as being a bad idea, it may be illegal or a violation of MIT network rules and can get you into serious trouble. Don't do it.


E-Mail Office
Nickolai Zeldovich 32-G994

Teaching assistants
Arjun Balasingam
Songtao He
Atalay Ileri
Kevin Liao
Richard Liu

TA office hours
Time Location TA
Monday 8am-10am Zoom Arjun Balasingam
Tuesday 8am-10am 24-323 Kevin Liao
Tuesday 4:30pm-6:30pm 26-322 Richard Liu
Wednesday 9am-1pm 24-321 Songtao He
Thursday 11am-1pm 32-G9 lobby Atalay Ileri

Course mailing list:
Use this mailing list to contact all the 6.858 staff.