Project 1: Security Incident Tracking (COMP 5407F - September 2010)
Thursday Oct.14 in class (at the start of class). No extensions. Read
these instructions carefully.
Prepare a selective report, summarizing your 4-week watch
(Sat., Sept.11, 12:01am through Fri. Oct.8, 11:59pm)
of software security incidents reported in the real world.
Here software security incidents
include any software-related issues affecting
user security or perception thereof.
Begin by determining which web sites, mailing lists, or other
resources to use as your primary information sources (see below).
For each of the 4 weeks, select one high-profile security incident which,
during that week, occurred, was first publicly announced,
received major publicity, or appeared on a relevant security incident list.
Clearly identify the incident; explain why you chose it
(aim for high profile, more serious, or distinctive incidents
as justified by your report); and
explain the problem with clear but concise technical details,
including what was exploited, the mechanism by which the attack succeeded,
and where possible how the problem can be fixed or worked around.
Format and length:
Maximum total length 20 pages (at most 4 pages per incident),
including a preliminary general section (max 2 pages) comparing
information sources and recommending which are most helpful,
and a final concluding remarks section (max 2 pages)
summarizing any trends, concerns, your own reflections, etc.
The report must be written in a single-column conference research paper format
(with abstract, introduction, etc.; if you need an example of such format,
look at the research papers scheduled to be covered later in the term).
Start each incident in a new numbered section.
Each section should reference the specific sources used
(as done in research papers).
Continuously updated lists of security incidents and
vulnerabilities are widely available, and change over time.
Some sites used by students in past years include:
government-funded cites such as CVE
sites from the many security advisory companies
anti-virus vendors such as Trend Micro, McAfee, Symantec
major software vendors such as Microsoft
the Internet Storm Center
and high-volumne mailing lists
(e.g., seclists.org; see
These may or may not turn out to be the best sites for your goals -
some provide a long-term catalogue of known vulnerabilities,
some provide high-level information for non-technical managers, and
others provide technical details of new vulnerabilities
as they emerge. An important part of the project, and one that you should
start with, is to explore these (and other) sites,
to become familiar with their diversity and to determine which
will best suit your needs.
These are examples only;
you may find different or newer sources are superior.
Use your own explanations:
Most of this information will be available online.
After locating and gaining an understanding of the appropriate information,
explain things in your own words in sufficient detail to
Clarify technical jargon, operating system details, etc., sufficiently
to allow understanding by a computer science undergrad.
Make explanations as self-contained as possible within the stated
limits; include additional background as necessary.
This is an individual project.
Read the "Policy re: Unethical Behaviour" on the course web page.
Ideas obtained from other students or sources must be cited as such.
Last updated: 15 September 2010