CS 598CLF: Secure Processor Design, Fall 2019

Instructor Chris Fletcher cwfletch@illinois.edu
Location Siebel 1302
Lecture Times
Wednesday and Friday, 11:00am - 12:15pm
Office Siebel 4106
Office Hours
Mondays 4pm-5pm or by appointment

Processors, more generally Microarchitectures, have recently become the front lines in the battle to construct (and destruct) secure systems. Researchers today face a choice. One can choose the Light Side and participate in an ongoing renaissance to build secure hardware, through new abstractions such as Enclave-based computing. One can also choose the "Dark" Side and participate in the largest ongoing effort to "break" (= vet) hardware the world has ever seen. This course will study both perspectives. More broadly, we will study the cutting-edge in secure processor architecture by examining the interplay between hardware, software and applied cryptography in these systems. The first several classes will feature lectures from the instructor: to give background on secure hardware systems from the standpoints of Computer Architecture and Applied Cryptography. The body of the course will be readings and discussion of late-breaking (primarily last several years) papers in the field and guest lectures from industry. Course assignments will give students hands-on experience with microarchitectural covert channels. The end of semester will culminate in an original research project.

This class is primarily intended for students who would like to conduct secure systems research where hardware plays a first-class role. It will also appeal to students with a casual interest in this hot topic, or who want to do research in computer security generally.

Syllabus [pdf]

The information in the syllabus and on this course website is subject to change. Major changes will be recorded in the announcements below.


Calendar + lecture slides + reading list [google sheet]

Slack channels (on the SPRAI slack) [arch-general, cs598clf-fa19]

* If you need access to the SPRAI slack, please email Chris with your UIUC email.

Course Drive (for paper summaries) [google drive]

Texts, books, resources


Grading (4 credits):

Academic Integrity

https://www.ece.illinois.edu/academics/grad/overview/general-info.asp "The faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering expects all students to maintain academic integrity at all times in the classroom and the research laboratory and to conduct their academic work in accordance with the highest ethical standards of the engineering profession. Students are expected to maintain academic integrity by refraining from academic dishonesty, and by refraining from conduct which aids others in academic dishonesty or which leads to suspicion of academic dishonesty. Violations of academic integrity will result in disciplinary actions ranging from failing grades on assignments and courses to probation, suspension or dismissal from the University."

Ethics statement

This is a course in computer security, and as such we will discuss several "attack" techniques that, if applied in the real world, could be used to compromise the security of others. This course also involves hands-on interaction with peer-to-peer computer networks and virtual currency systems, to which numerous laws and regulations are applicable. It is your responsibility not to run afoul of laws, regulations, or ethical standards. If in doubt please contact me (the instructor).
The above information is subject to change.