csc5930/9010 - Cloud Security and Privacy

Instructor: Dr. Henry Carter (henry.carter 'at'
Meeting Times: T 15:00 - 17:45
Location: Mendel G87
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Knowledge of networks, discrete math, and basic systems concepts
Office: Mendel 165B, (610)519-5412
Office Hours: T 13:-14:30; W 11:00-12:00; R 09:30-11:00; or by appointment (in-person or Skype)
Schedule: click here
TA office hours: TBD


As cloud-based computing services become more popular, the security and privacy of user data in outsourced environments is becoming a serious concern. In this course, students will learn about common cloud architectures, current security threats in cloud environments, and the latest research on preserving data privacy in the cloud. After taking this course, students will have experience working with cloud technology in a lab setting and will be prepared to participate in research developing new security tools and protocols.

Topics covered include SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS architectures; Privacy-preserving computation techniques; Co-location vulnerabilities and VM introspection; and Authentication and data integrity in distributed environments

The course objectives are:

  • Establish an understanding of basic cloud computing architectures and technology.
  • Explore a wide range of current research trends in cloud security and privacy.
  • Develop technical research skills through academic writing and experimentation.

There is no assigned textbook for the course, but students will be expected to keep up with the assigned readings listed in the course schedule.

A detailed list of lectures, readings, assignments, due dates (subject to change as the semester evolves) is available on the course schedule.


Students will be evaluated based on the following breakdown:

  • 15% Homework assignments
  • 20% Exams
  • 60% Course project
  • 5% Class participation

Scale: 70 ≤ C < 77 ≤ C+ < 80 ≤ B- < 84 ≤ B < 88 ≤ B+ < 90 ≤ A- < 94 ≤ A


The course will include one midterm and one final exam. Students will be responsible for material covered both in the readings AND lectures. Attendance is therefore recommended as not all class discussions will be covered in the text.


Pop quizzes may given at the beginning of class and will cover topics from the preceding lecture and readings. It is strongly suggested that students do the reading prior class, as a good percentage of their grade will depend on them. Quizzes missed because of absences can not be made up unless arrangements are made with the instructor prior to the course meeting.


The main evaluation tool of the course is the term research project. Students will be expected to work alone or in pairs to develop a new tool or present a novel study of existing cloud technology to demonstrate ability to perform independent research. All projects will culminate with a report written in an academic journal style as well as a short in-class presentation.

The project grade will be broken down into the following components:

  • 5% Project Topics
  • 10% Related work search
  • 10% Abstract and introduction
  • 10% Methodology/architecture
  • 5% Final presentation
  • 20% Final report and presentation

Assignments and project milestones are assessed a 15% per-day late penalty, with a maximum of 3 days. Unless the problem is apocalyptic, don't give me excuses. Students with legitimate reasons who contact the professor before the deadline may apply for an extension.

Class Participation

To do well in this course, students must take active and regular roles in discussion and demonstrate comprehension of the reading and lecture themes. Students are required to do the assigned reading before class. This will be closely monitored by the professor, thereby making a student's ability to demonstrate their comprehension of material essential to a receiving a passing grade.

Disabilities and Learning Support

It is the policy of Villanova to make reasonable academic accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. You must present verification and register with the Learning Support Office by contacting 610-519-5176 or at Accommodations cannot be made until verification is delivered to the professor, and cannot be enacted retroactively. For physical access or temporary disabling conditions, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 610-519-4095 or email Registration is needed in order to receive accommodations.

Academic Integrity Policy

All students are expected to uphold Villanova's Academic Integrity Policy and Code. Any incident of academic dishonesty will typically result in an "F" for the assignment and will be reported to the appropriate university officials. See the statement of the full policy on the Graduate Arts and Sciences website. You can view the Academic Integrity Policy and Code, as well as other useful information related to writing papers, at the Academic Integrity Gateway web site