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Unlocking Information Security I: From Cryptography to Buffer Overflows

Learn how systems are hacked and defended.

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Estimated 5 weeks
4–6 hours per week
Self-paced
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About this course

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Information Security is everywhere: as the world becomes more and more digitized, so it becomes more and more hackable. Cyber attacks, data breaches, and even cyber warfare are all very real - so it is infinitely important to understand how hackers think and act, and how you can fight back.

In this course, which is the first part of the Unlocking Information Security program, you will learn the basic terminology and concepts in the field of information security. You will explore different types of vulnerabilities through famous examples of design flaws, implementation bugs and social engineering.

You will then move on to discover the art of cryptography, from ancient times to the modern era, and learn about famous ciphers, how they can be cracked, and what can be done to thwart such attacks. Next, you will learn about an important aspect of cryptography that involves no secrets at all: hash functions. You will understand what they are, how they can be used, and how they can be attacked.

You will then combine everything you've learned and take a critical view of different authentication schemes: passwords, challenge-response systems and biometrics. Finally, you will learn about the most critical vulnerability of all times - Buffer Overflow.

This course was produced at Tel Aviv University by TAU Online - learning innovation center.

Course created with support from

Check Point

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At a glance

  • Institutions: IsraelXTelAvivUniversity
  • Subject: Computer Science
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:
    • The course includes optional programming exercises that require familiarity with the Python programming language. While the course can be completed with great benefit without solving them, we highly recommend you give them a try.

    • The course also assumes some mathematical maturity, including algebra, basic combinatorics, and probability.

What you'll learn

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  • Information Security basic terminology, vulnerabilities, exploits, and an in-depth look at a real case-study (namely, Meltdown).
  • An overview of cryptography with an emphasis on symmetric ciphers.
  • A high-level examination of hash functions and an overview of common hash algorithms.
  • A critical look at different authentication schemes, including passwords, challenge-response, and biometrics.
  • An overview of the most critical vulnerability of all times - buffer overflow, including common variants like Variable and Stack Overflow and simple yet effective mitigation techniques like canaries and DEP

Learner testimonials

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  • Great presentation. Clear lectures. Loved the graphical elements used to illustrate the coursework. I would love to see more courses from these guys.
  • Top-notch course, with good teaching and excellent feedback using the quizzes, etc. I am glad to have found this gem of an online CS class!
  • I have been in software development for 25 years but I felt like this course enhanced my understanding of computing basics tremendously. I would sign-up for part III and IV tomorrow if it was available.

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

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