Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

June, 2008

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    Talking about Defense in Depth

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    Last week I was down at Pace University in New York City where I gave the opening keynote talk for a high school computer forensics competition. I had a very attentive audience for my talk but I also I really enjoyed seeing/hearing the presentations the students did for the competition. There was clearly a lot of work and a lot of learning going on. One of the things I talked about in my talk, which was generally about defensive actions to protect software in general and operating systems in particular, was Defense in Depth. I only spent a short time on it but it was clear to me that I could have spent a lot more time on it. As regular readers know I believe that students in computer science should start learning about security early.

    Just by coincidence, this week, I received the regular security newsletter that Microsoft sends out and there was a reference to an article by Kai Axford, a Senior Security Strategist with the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Group, on this very topic. In this article Kai talks about Seven Layers of defense in depth:

    • Layer 1 Policies, Procedures, and Awareness (All Bark and No Bite)
    • Layer 2: Physical Security (Gates, Guards, and Guns)
    • Layer 3: Perimeter Security (Living on the Edge)
    • Layer 4: Network Security (Protecting Your House)
    • Layer 5: Host Security (Save the Box, Save the Network)
    • Layer 6: Application Security (If You Build It…Securely, They Won't Come)
    • Layer 7: Data Security (If Your Terabyte Falls in the Middle of the Active Directory Forest…)

    It’s not a long article but there is a lot of good information and a good start to a serious discussion about software as part of a complete system and what it means to keep things safe. And if you want more, you can find Kai’s highly rated on-demand videos here.

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    A Whole Pile of Programming Competition Questions

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    I was looking through the web site for the HP Code Wars competition the other day and came across the page where they list the questions they have used in this annual high school programming competition since 1999. (The previous years questions – including 2008 – are here.)

    It looks like they have had between 12 and 18 questions each year. There should be something for everyone here wether you are looking for projects to prepare your own team for a programming competition or are looking for interesting projects to assign in a class. They have solutions posted (usually in either Java or C++) for some of the more recent year’s questions. I am looking for some spare time to code up some of them in Visual Basic and/or C# myself. These are the sorts of mental exercises I like to play with in my spare time. Yes, some of us do code for the fun on it.

    If you are at a high school in Texas, especially in the Houston area, you may want to look into HP Code Wars for next school year. I’m actually thinking I may make it down there myself – Microsoft has been a co-sponsor for about 10 years now. Plus I love Texas. You just can’t get good TexMex where I live. That’s one more reason I am looking forward to NECC in San Antonio later this month. Hope to see some of you there!

  • Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

    ACM Committee on Women in Computing Newsletter

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    ACM-W, the ACM Committee on Women in Computing, has just published the first edition of their newsletter. The newsletter is called "ACM-W CIS newsletter: Celebrate, Inform, Support" and the first issue is pretty interesting. The ACM-W main web page (here) has a lot of good information on Women in CS. The direct link to the first issue (PDF) is here. The announcement I received said in part:

    Each issue of the ACM-W CIS newsletter will highlight opportunities for women in computing of all ages and career stages, and will include pieces on topics such as news about exciting projects, interviews with women leaders, reports from student chapters and stories from around the world.

    I expect that many people will want to hand off copies of the newsletter to young women to show them that there are interesting women doing interesting, and sometimes world changing, things in computer science. Of course when you think of it that is a lesson some young men could benefit from as well.

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