Network security weaknesses

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Network Security

This assignment will be marked using the Peer Assessment website and as such you should carefully read this assignment specification. Your task is to research a topic and write a report. You will be working in groups of 3 or 4 people, with each group member participating in all stages of the research. Each group will produce a report to present its findings.


Working in groups of 3-4, choose one of the following assignment briefs:

1. Describe the main weaknesses of wireless networks and explain how these can be compromised. Identify how these vulnerabilities can be rectified/minimised using current technologies and investigate emerging/future wireless network protection mechanisms.

2. Describe three types of firewall and explain in which scenarios each could be used. Provide an example rule set to configure a firewall to provide a default deny policy with specific allowance for a public facing web, ftp and mail server. Research advances being made in firewall technologies and hypothesis how the increased usage of mobile devices will influence their development.

3. As an administrator describe how you would use network/security tools to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your network. Include examples and describe how you can fix the vulnerabilities these tools discover. Discuss the ethical dilemma of hackers using administrative tools and administrators using hacking toolkits.

You are free to structure your report as you feel appropriate, but the following key aspects need to be addressed as part of the submission:

* Introduction

* Background information

* Evidence/statistics/case studies etc.

* Analysis and discussion

* Your conclusions

The overall length of the report (excluding appendices) should not exceed 4,000 words (these three pages contain around 1,200 words). Relevant supporting information may be included as appendices if required. Your report will be assessed on the depth and breadth of your research (which must be evidenced), and overall quality of presentation. It will be expected to have appropriate introduction and conclusion sections, and to be supported by references.

The research that you present should be supported by appropriate evidence, such as published results from surveys, and case studies of particular incidents. Any such information that you present must be appropriately cited and referenced in your report - if you are unfamiliar with referencing style, then a Google search using the term 'Harvard referencing' will help to enlighten you.

Although you will be expected to make significant use of printed and online literature in researching and producing your materials, it is not acceptable for your group to simply cut and paste material from other sources (small quotes are acceptable, but they must be clearly indicated as being quotes and the source must be referenced appropriately).


You must inform Dr Paul Dowland, by email, of the composition of your group by 4pm on Friday 6th November. Anyone not in a group after that deadline will be randomly formed into groups (or added to existing groups as necessary). Confirmation of groups will be posted to the student portal.

The report will be submitted via the peer assessment website by 4pm on Friday 11th December - details of how this submission should be made will be advised before the deadline.

Following the submission of your group's report, you will be required to individually perform a peer assessment of the submissions made by three other groups (see details below). This task must be completed by 4pm on Friday 8th January 2010.


Marking of the reports will be performed by you, which will enable people to consider the issues relating to some of the other topics in addition to the one that their group researched. An on-line Peer-Review system will be used to permit you to read/download and mark the report submissions from other groups. You will EACH be required to mark three reports, which will be randomly assigned to you. All submissions will be anonymous and you will mark the material based upon marking criteria that will be outlined to you at the time.

Although the process of peer-review might at first glance seem like a lot of additional work, the technique has been proven time and again to be a successful means of improving your learning. Although no additional marks will be given to the reading and marking of the reports, a penalty will be made if you do not undertake the task. Specifically, for every assigned report that you do not read and mark appropriately, 10% will be deducted from your coursework mark. The mark that your group receives for its report will be an average of what the peer assessors assign to it. Please take this seriously and note that the process will be monitored by the module leader for quality assurance, and to ensure the fairness of marking (we will moderate marks in cases where we feel a report has been assessed inappropriately high or low).

At the end of the assignment, groups will be given the opportunity to apportion different shares of the final mark to their members. For example, if a group of four people scored a mark of 65%, then they would be given 260% (i.e. 65% multiplied by 4!) to share between them. Obviously, if all members of the group were felt to have made equal contributions, then the fairest thing to do would be to split this equally (i.e. all four get 65%). However, if one person was felt to have worked particularly well (or particularly badly) then you might decide to split the overall mark differently (e.g. one person could be given 75%, while the other three get 61.5% etc). If the groups cannot agree a split to which all members confirm their support, then groups will be asked to attend a meeting with the module leader in order to explore each individual's contribution to the work. Such a meeting may also be requested in the event that the assessors have their own concerns or questions over the content of group reports. Any such problems should be flagged before the 11th January deadline for completion of peer assessments, and if we do not hear differently the marks will be assigned equally to all group members.

This assignment represents 40% of the mark for the CNET531 module. The remaining 60% will be allocated on the basis of an individually-marked multiple choice test.

Marking Criteria:

Introduction and Background (10%)

In addition to introducing the topic and presenting the background information, assumptions should be stated. Did the report CLEARLY identify the question they had chosen to answer (choice of three topics)?

Analysis and Discussion (50%)

Explaining at an appropriate level the issues relevant to the topic considered. Did the report address ALL the issues from the original question (refer to the assignment brief).

Evidence/statistics/case studies (30%)

Has appropriate research been conducted to evidence the facts presented in the report? Are facts/figures supported by a suitable reference? E.g. you cannot simply state that "50% of wireless LANs are insecure" unless you can support it with evidence.

Presentation and Structure (10%)