Mobile Security Sven Bugiel

Registration for this course is open until Friday, 18.12.2020 23:59.


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Please note that the content of this page is tentative and might be updated in the coming weeks!

About the course

This advanced lecture deals with different, fundamental aspects of mobile operating systems and application security, with a strong focus on the popular, open-source Android OS and its ecosystem. In general, the awareness and understanding of the students for security and privacy problems in this area are increased. The students learn to tackle current security and privacy issues on smartphones from the perspectives of different security principals in the smartphone ecosystem: end-users, app developers, market operators, system vendors, third parties (like companies).

Central questions of this course are:

  • What is the threat model from the different principals' perspectives?
  • How are the fundamental design patterns of secure systems and security best practices realized in the design of smartphone operating systems? And how does the multi-layered software stack (i.e., middleware on top of the OS) influence this design?
  • How are hardware security primitives, such as Trusted Execution Environments, and trusted computing concepts integrated into those designs?
  • What are the techniques and solutions market operators have at hand to improve the overall ecosystem's hygiene?
  • Which problems and solutions did security research in this area identify in the past half-decade?
  • Which techniques have been developed to empower the end-users to protect their privacy?

The lectures are accompanied by exercises to re-enforce the theoretical concepts and to provide an environment for hands-on experience for mobile security on the Android platform. Additionally, a short course project should give hands-on experience in extending Android's security architecture with a simple custom mechanism for access control enforcement.

Where and when

The lectures will take place as a "flipped classroom:" pre-recorded videos of the lectures will be posted every Monday via the CMS and every following Friday at 10:00 – 12:00 a Zoom session takes place to answer questions about the lecture content or discuss the lecture content. Extra tutorial Zoom sessions deal specifically with the exercise contents and provide an additional occasion to ask the tutors about the lecture content.


There are no formal requirements for participation. Students who want to participate in the course should

  • have worked with a smartphone before (e.g., own an Android-based phone, iPhone, etc.)
  • be familiar with programming in Java (and C/C++)
  • should be comfortable with working with Linux

Actual programming experience on Android or at OS-level is not a prerequisite, but definitively an advantage.

Background in security is also an advantage (e.g., prior participation in the Foundations of Cybersecurity lecture or Security core lecture). However, the necessary knowledge on system design, access control, and network security will be provided in this lecture to put Android's design choices into context better.

Requirements for obtaining credit points (Scheinvergabe)

For passing the course, you need the following minimum amount of points:

  • 50% of the points from the final exam.

For admission to the exam, you need:

  • at least 50% of the points from the exercises.

The final grade is based purely on your exam results.

The end-term exam will take place TBA

The backup exam will take place TBA


Register for the course here in the CISPA CMS. Registration opens TBA. Once you are registered here, don't forget to register in the LSF.

Please note that the number of students for this course is limited to 40!

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