Fall 2012

General Information

Catalog description // Who should take 6.858 // Communication // Grading // Turn-in // Collaboration // Class meetings // Staff // TA office hours

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.

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.

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 3 late days to use throughout the semester. There are no partial late days: an assignment that is only six hours late uses an entire late day. After you have used up your late days, 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.

Class meetings

Lectures will be held MW 11-12:30 in 4-237.


Nickolai Zeldovich   32-G994   x3-6005  
Teaching assistant
David Benjamin TBD   
Taesoo Kim 32-G978B   
Frank Wang 32-G980   

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

TA office hours

Office hours will be held Monday from 1-3pm in 56-191, Wednesday from 5-7pm in 56-191, and Thursday from 3-5pm in 66-144. If you can't make it, you can email us to set up another time to meet. You are welcome to stay and ask questions after lectures.

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

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