COIT13240 - Applied Cryptography

General Information

Unit Synopsis

In this unit, you will learn techniques for securing information and communications against adversaries, in particular with regards to confidentiality, integrity and authentication. Informed by the history of cryptography, you will learn the cryptographic primitives that are used to secure information today such as symmetric key encryption, message authentication codes, public key cryptography and digital signatures. You will also study future issues in cryptography, including the challenges raised by quantum computing. While you will learn and use basic mathematics, this unit will focus on cryptographic concepts relevant to cyber security specialists, rather than the mathematical underpinnings of the algorithms. This practical treatment of cryptography will be highlighted in laboratory tasks, where you will use software to attack and secure information in various realistic scenarios.


Level Undergraduate
Unit Level 3
Credit Points 6
Student Contribution Band SCA Band 2
Fraction of Full-Time Student Load 0.125
Pre-requisites or Co-requisites

Pre-requisite: COIT12202 Network Security Concepts

Important note: Students enrolled in a subsequent unit who failed their pre-requisite unit, should drop the subsequent unit before the census date or within 10 working days of Fail grade notification. Students who do not drop the unit in this timeframe cannot later drop the unit without academic and financial liability. See details in the Assessment Policy and Procedure (Higher Education Coursework).

Class Timetable View Unit Timetable
Residential School No Residential School

Unit Availabilities from Term 1 - 2024

Term 1 - 2024 Profile

Attendance Requirements

All on-campus students are expected to attend scheduled classes – in some units, these classes are identified as a mandatory (pass/fail) component and attendance is compulsory. International students, on a student visa, must maintain a full time study load and meet both attendance and academic progress requirements in each study period (satisfactory attendance for International students is defined as maintaining at least an 80% attendance record).

Assessment Overview

Recommended Student Time Commitment

Each 6-credit Undergraduate unit at CQUniversity requires an overall time commitment of an average of 12.5 hours of study per week, making a total of 150 hours for the unit.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task Weighting
1. In-class Test(s) 40%
2. Written Assessment 20%
3. Project (applied) 40%

This is a graded unit: your overall grade will be calculated from the marks or grades for each assessment task, based on the relative weightings shown in the table above. You must obtain an overall mark for the unit of at least 50%, or an overall grade of ‘pass’ in order to pass the unit. If any ‘pass/fail’ tasks are shown in the table above they must also be completed successfully (‘pass’ grade). You must also meet any minimum mark requirements specified for a particular assessment task, as detailed in the ‘assessment task’ section (note that in some instances, the minimum mark for a task may be greater than 50%).

Consult the University’s Grades and Results Policy for more details of interim results and final grades

Past Exams

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Previous Feedback

Term 1 - 2023 : The overall satisfaction for students in the last offering of this course was 50.00% (`Agree` and `Strongly Agree` responses), based on a 37.50% response rate.

Feedback, Recommendations and Responses

Every unit is reviewed for enhancement each year. At the most recent review, the following staff and student feedback items were identified and recommendations were made.

Source: Unit evaluation
The connection between the knowledge/skills gained in this unit and career paths of graduates is not clear.
Allocate more time explaining the importance of cryptography to cyber security professionals, referring to, for example, the NIST Workforce Framework for Cyber Security and job advertisements.
Action Taken
The importance of cryptography was discussed early in the term. However, the impact of this discussion was not evident, and additional reflection later in the term is recommended.
Source: Unit Coordinator reflection
A lot of time is spent on understanding ciphers, but their relevance to current and future technologies is not clear.
Include more examples of where ciphers are used in practice today, e.g. iPhone hardware security, end-to-end encrypted messaging, and blockchains.
Action Taken
Some examples were introduced through the term (e.g. current ciphers for web technologies), but additional details, e.g. as part of an assessment, are still required.
Source: Student Feedback, including Unit Evaluation
New concepts and tools to learn each week, combined with regular journal entries and multiple tests, leaves little time for an in-depth understanding of topics.
Reduce the number of tests during the term, and make it clearer that during busy weeks (e.g., when tests are held, key points in a project) the journal entries can focus on reflections on the test and project.
Action Taken
Source: Unit Evaluation and Unit Coordinator Reflection
The connection between the ciphers and skills learnt in this unit and the technologies graduates will work with is not clear.
Include more activities on cryptography for web technologies in the project, and include a task towards the end of the term for reflecting on the relevance of the learnt knowledge/skills to future jobs.
Action Taken
Unit learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Discuss principles used to design secure cryptographic algorithms
  2. Explain the operation of attacks on cryptographic algorithms
  3. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of different cryptographic algorithms and their implementations
  4. Design secure information services using a variety of cryptographic algorithms.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) recognises the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). SFIA is adopted by organisations, governments and individuals in many countries and provides a widely used and consistent definition of ICT skills. SFIA is increasingly being used when developing job descriptions and role profiles. ACS members can use the tool MySFIA to build a skills profile.

This unit contributes to the following workplace skills as defined by SFIA 7 (the SFIA code is included)

  • Information Security (SCTY)
  • Security Administration (SCAD)
  • Specialist Advice (TECH)

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Framework defines knowledge, skills and tasks needed to perform various cyber security roles. Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the NICE Framework is used by organisations to plan their workforce, including recruit into cyber security positions.

This unit helps prepare you for roles such as Systems Security Analyst, Network Operations Specialist and Systems Administrator, contributing to the following knowledge and skills:

  • K0005 Knowledge of cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
  • K0018 Knowledge of encryption algorithms
  • K0019 Knowledge of cryptography and cryptographic key management concepts
  • K0053 Knowledge of measures or indicators of system performance and availability.
  • K0071 Knowledge of remote access technology concepts.
  • K0075 Knowledge of security system design tools, methods, and techniques.
  • K0201 Knowledge of symmetric key rotation techniques and concepts.
  • K0318 Knowledge of operating system command-line tools.
  • K0622 Knowledge of controls related to the use, processing, storage, and transmission of data.
  • S0040 Skill in implementing, maintaining, and improving established network security practices.
  • S0060 Skill in writing code in a currently supported programming language (e.g., Java, C++).
  • S0077 Skill in securing network communications.

Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Learning Outcomes
Assessment Tasks Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4
1 - In-class Test(s)
2 - Written Assessment
3 - Project (applied)
Alignment of Graduate Attributes to Learning Outcomes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Graduate Attributes Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4
1 - Communication
2 - Problem Solving
3 - Critical Thinking
4 - Information Literacy
5 - Team Work
6 - Information Technology Competence
8 - Ethical practice
Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Graduate Attributes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Assessment Tasks Graduate Attributes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10