Fall 2020

Prof. Charles Nicholas
ITE 356
Office hours: MW 2:30-4pm, subject to change

I'll be holding all office hours over WebEx: https://umbc.webex.com/meet/nicholas
but it's a good idea to send email before trying to meet with me, since my schedule may change at short notice.

We have one Graduate Teaching Assistant (Mr. Robert "RJ" Joyce) and four Undergrad Teaching Fellows for this course.

The TA and UTFs will hold office hours in the Discord site, as shown below. Subject to change, see the entries for specific weeks below.

TA Name

Email Address

Office Hours

RJ Joyce


MW 11am-1pm

Maksim Eren


MW 10-11am

Charles Varga


MW 1-2pm

Henry Budris


Th 4-6pm

Chris Skane


F 10am-noon

Course information

No Class on Wednesday August 26!

Class begins on Wednesday, 7:10-9:25pm, beginning September 2, 2020

The class will meet entirely on-line, over a combination of WebEx and Discord.

The WebEx portion(s) of each class will be recorded, and made available after each class session through Box.
Access to this Box folder will be restricted to UMBC.

Course website: https://www.csee.umbc.edu/courses/undergraduate/CMSC491activeCyber/

No face-to-face activity is expected.

Please see this Google doc for UMBC Policies and Resources that applies to this (and other) classes this semester.



Interest in cyberdefense, including inter-collegiate competition. Computer Science background equivalent to Data Structures CMSC 341 is assumed.

Permission of the instrcutor is required in order to enroll. Send email to nicholas@umbc.edu from your UMBC email address, and tell me your name
AND your student ID. You may attend the class sessions even if you are not enrolled. The Cyberdefense club meets in the same
place and time.

This is NOT an entry-level systems or security course. Students are expected to have a working knowledge of the Windows and Unix operating systems, networks, and/or software development techniques, along with interest if not experience in planning and conducting both penetration testing and countermeasures development.


Notes on the Schedule (Subject to Change. Some details TBD)

Textbook(s): None

The following book(s) are not required, but may be helpful:

Cyberoperations, by Mike O'Leary, second edition

Windows Internals, Parts 1 and 2, by Mark Russinovich

Hacking: the art of exploitation, by Jon Erickson.

Be careful when dowloading "free" copies of this or similar books! Additional resources, varying in quality, can be found on Wikibooks and other places.

Course Policies


Students enrolled in CMSC 491 will be expected to attend and participate in the weekly Cyberdawg meetings, including the prep work that may be announed before or after each class session. Also, to suggest resources that could be added to this site, such as on-line tutorials, tools, YouTubes, and so forth.

Students enrolled in CMSC 791 will be subject to the same expectations as students in 491.

Grading Scheme: 15% attendance, 20% competition participation, 65% homeworks. Homeworks are equal weight, and there will be 8-10 of them. There are no exams.

This course includes 10 lab assignments. You will be given time to work on each lab during the meetings. Each lab has a group portion and an individual portion. You may collaborate with other students or CyberDawgs club members on the group portion of each lab. However, you must still complete the lab on your own virtual machine. You may not work on the individual portions of the labs with any other students or club members. Labs must be submitted by 7:00pm the following Wednesday. No late submissions will be accepted. Only 9 lab assignments will be counted, the lowest lab grade will be dropped.

Attendance will be taken during each meeting and is worth a portion of your grade total. If you are unable to attend a meeting, please email Dr. Nicholas.

You are required to attend at least one CTF or red team/blue team competition during the semester. During this semester we expect all events to be online. Events hosted during regular club meetings do not count towards this requirement. A list of recommended competitions is provided below. If you would like to compete in a competition that is not listed, please email Dr. Nicholas.

Abuse of Resources


Abuse of the knowledge or experience you gain in this course may subject you to discipline under UMBC policy and/or criminal prosecution. Do not expect your status as a student to protect you if you break the law! Hacking into campus computers (other than systems approved for such a purpose) is a violation of UMBC policy, and may result in disciplinary action possibly including expulsion, in addition to possible criminal charges.



A collection of resources will be made available.. Suggestions are welcome!

This web site's URL should be https://www.csee.umbc.edu/courses/undergraduate/CMSC491activeCyber/