Fall 2022

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

I'll be holding office hours in-person and over WebEx. It's a good idea to send email before trying to meet with me, since my schedule may change at short notice.

Link for WebEx office hours: https://umbc.webex.com/meet/nicholas

The TA and UTFs will hold office hours in the "Office Hours" channel on the Discord site, as shown below. Subject to change, see the entries for specific weeks below. Discord details are TBD at this moment.



Email Address

Office Hours

Henry Budris

Assistant Instructor


by appointment

Paisley Code

Undergrad Teaching Fellow


Tuesday, 5:30-7:30pm, virtual

Sophia Hamer

Graduate RA


Tuesday and Thursday, 11:30am-12:30pm, virtual

Sai Madhav Kolluri

Graduate TA


Monday 8-10pm, virtual

Ben Nordmann Undergrad Teaching Fellow nordman1@umbc.edu Thursday 4:30-6:30pm, ITE 366

Rob Shovan

Undergrad Teaching Fellow


Wednesday 3-5pm, ITE 366

Brianna Turgott

Undergrad Teaching Fellow


Monday 9-11am,virtual

Course Information

Class begins on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, 7:10-9:25pm.

The class will meet in hybrid format. In-person attendance or over WebEx are both acceptable.

The assigned classroom is PUP 105. When in PUP 105, the campus policies about masks will be respected.

No face-to-face activity is required. If illness of any kind keeps you from finishing an assignment on time, let me know, and we'll try to be helpful.

This course uses WebEx for class presentations, and Discord for in-class discussions and meetings with TAs.
The WebEx and Discord links for the class and course assistant office hours are here.
You will need UMBC credentials to access these links.

The WebEx portion(s) of each class will be recorded automatically, and made available after each class session. A link to the course recordings appears after each session. All recordings are in the same Box directory.

Course website: https://www.csee.umbc.edu/courses/undergraduate/CMSC491activeCyber/ (You are looking at this web page now :-)


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

This is a large class this semester! Even so, people may attend the class sessions even if not enrolled. The Cyberdefense club meets in the same place and time.

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.

If you don't have this level of knowledge, you are still welcome to attend, but don't attempt the class for credit. We will have activities appropriate for those new to the cyber and computer systems fields.

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.

This class was taught for the first time in Fall 2017, and the web sites for Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, and Fall 2021 are still available.


Notes on the Schedule (Subject to Change)

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 691 will be subject to the same expectations as students in 491.

Grading Scheme: 20% competition participation, 80% homeworks. Homeworks are equal weight, and there will be 8-10 of them. There are no exams.

You will be given time to work on each lab during the meetings. Some labs may have a group portion and an individual portion. You may collaborate with other students or CyberDawgs club members on the group portion of such labs. 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. Whatever the number of lab assignments, the lowest lab grade will be dropped.

You are required to participate in at least one CTF or red team/blue team competition during the semester. At this time, we expect all such events to be online. Events hosted during regular club meetings do not count towards this requirement. Recommended competitions will be discussed in class. If you would like to compete in a competition that has not been mentioned, please email Dr. Nicholas.

Accessibility and Disability Accommodations, Guidance and Resources

Accommodations for students with disabilities are provided for all students with a qualified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA & ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act who request and are eligible for accommodations. The Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) is the UMBC department designated to coordinate accommodations that creates equal access for students when barriers to participation exist in University courses, programs, or activities.

If you have a documented disability and need to request academic accommodations in your courses, please refer to the SDS website at sds.umbc.edu for registration information and office procedures. If you would like to help ADA students, I understand that the SDS office hires students for this purpose...

SDS email: disAbility@umbc.edu

SDS phone: (410) 455-2459

If you will be using SDS approved accommodations in this class, please contact Dr. Nicholas to discuss implementation of the accommodations. During remote instruction requirements due to COVID, communication and flexibility will be essential for success.

Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Gender Based Violence and Discrimination

UMBC’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination and Federal Title IX law prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in University programs and activities. Any student who is impacted by sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, gender-based harassment or retaliation should contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator to make a report and/or access support and resources:

Mikhel A. Kushner, Title IX Coordinator (she/they)
410-455-1250 (direct line), kushner@umbc.edu

You can access support and resources even if you do not want to take any further action. You will not be forced to file a formal complaint or police report. Please be aware that the University may take action on its own if essential to protect the safety of the community.

If you are interested in or thinking about making a report, please see the Online Reporting/Referral Form. Please note that, while University options to respond may be limited, there is an anonymous reporting option via the online form and every effort will be made to address concerns reported anonymously.

Notice that Faculty are Responsible Employees with Mandatory Reporting Obligations:

All faculty members are considered Responsible Employees, per UMBC’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, and Gender Discrimination. Faculty are therefore required to report possible violations of the Policy to the Title IX Coordinator, even if a student discloses something they experienced before attending UMBC.

While faculty members want encourage you to share information related to your life experiences through discussion and written work, students should understand that faculty are required to report past and present sexual assault, domestic and interpersonal violence, stalking, and gender discrimination that is shared with them to the Title IX Coordinator so that the University can inform students of their rights, resources and support.

If you need to speak with someone in confidence, who does not have an obligation to report to the Title IX Coordinator, UMBC has a number of Confidential Resources available to support you: 

Other Resources:

Child Abuse and Neglect: Please note that Maryland law and UMBC policy require that the faculty report all disclosures or suspicions of child abuse or neglect to the Department of Social Services and/or the police.


UMBC’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination expressly prohibits all forms of Discrimination and Harassment on the basis of sex, including pregnancy. Resources for pregnant students are available through the University’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.  Pregnant and parenting students are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator to discuss plans and assure ongoing access to their academic program with respect to a leave of absence or return following leave related to pregnancy, delivery, or the early months of parenting.

In addition, students who are pregnant may be entitled to accommodations under the ADA through the Student Disability Service Office, and/or under Title IX through the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

Religious Observances and Accommodations

UMBC Policy provides that students should not be penalized because of observances of their religious beliefs, students shall be given an opportunity, whenever feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic assignment that is missed due to individual participation in religious observances. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of any intended absences for religious observances in advance, and as early as possible.  For questions or guidance or to request an accommodation, please contact the Office of Equity and Inclusion at oei@umbc.edu.

Hate, Bias, Discrimination and Harassment

UMBC values safety, cultural and ethnic diversity, social responsibility, lifelong learning, equity, and civic engagement.

Consistent with these principles, UMBC Policy prohibits discrimination and harassment in its educational programs and activities or with respect to employment terms and conditions based on race, creed, color, religion, sex, gender, pregnancy, ancestry, age, gender identity or expression, national origin, veterans status, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or genetic information.

Students (and faculty and staff) who experience discrimination, harassment, hate or bias or who have such matters reported to them should use the online reporting/referral form to report discrimination, hate or bias incidents; reporting may be anonymous.