The course Secure Mobile Systems covers the theory and application of information security in mobile, wireless systems. We will typically hand out reading material in advance of each class and require the students to prepare themselves for the upcoming lecture. In class, we will discuss the papers and identify the most important aspects and contributions influencing secure mobile systems. This is complemented by presentations of the SeMoSy team. We will roughly cover the following topics (some more broadly, others very much in detail).

  • Fundamentals of distributed, mobile, wireless systems. Security analysis and threat models for mobile systems (broadcast nature of wireless channel, resource constraints, etc.).
  • Security issues in Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN): intrusion detection, performance vs. security trade-offs, energy-depletion attacks, efficient authentication and confidentiality for performance-weak devices, etc.
  • Overview of recent research results covering security protocols for secure routing in Mobile Ad hoc Networks (MANET), for secure localized routing algorithms, etc.
  • Privacy in general and in particular what lessons can we learn from Edward Snowden’s revelations on the state of affairs in surveillance of mobile and wireless systems.
  • If time permits: security at the physical layer using software-defined radios. Visible light and mmWave security.
  • If time permits: security issues in GSM and UMTS cellular radio networks: attacks and countermeasures.
  • If time permits: mobile systems and nation state adversaries


Students attending the lecture are acquiring knowledge in the domain of security with emphasis on mobile, distributed, wireless communication networks. Students are able to apply and transfer the most important fundamentals from IT security, cryptography and traditional network security to the field of mobile systems. Students obtain a thorough understanding of security mechanisms on the different network layers (application layer, transport layer, network layer, link layer, physical layer). As a result, they are able to thoroughly discuss the characteristics and principles in the area of mobile system security and exhibit detailed theoretical and practical knowledge in this field. Graded exam (written or oral, depending on number of students). Students can achieve a bonus for the examination by additional attainments.


During the course, we will study selected chapters from following books as well as selected journal articles and conference papers:

  • [BuHu2008] Levente Buttyan, Jean-Pierre Hubaux: Security and Cooperation in Wireless Networks, Cambridge University Press, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-521-87371-0, also available online for download.
  • [Bishop2003] Matt Bishop: Computer Security – Art and Science, Addison Wesley, 2003, ISBN: 978-0-201-44099-7