Instructor Information

Kimberlee Mitchel

Work Phone: 410-465-8314
Home Phone: 410-465-8314

Course Information

Course Description

This course describes public key technology and related security management issues in the context of the Secure Cyberspace Grand Challenge of the National Academy of Engineering. Course materials explain Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) components and how the various components support e-business and strong security services. The course includes the basics of public key technology; the role of digital certificates; a case study that emphasizes the content and importance of certificate policy and certification practices; identification challenges and the current status of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace; and essential aspects of the key management lifecycle processes that incorporate the most recent research papers of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Students will examine PKI capabilities and digital signatures in the context of the business environment, including applicable laws and regulations. The course also presents the essential elements for PKI implementation, including planning, the state of standards, and interoperability challenges. The course also provides an opportunity for students to tailor the course to meet specific cybersecurity interests with regard to PKI and participate in discussions with their peers on contemporary cybersecurity topics.

Course Goal

The goal of this course is to enable the student to understand the foundational elements and complexity of a public key infrastructure.

Course Objectives

  • Students will distinguish between public key technology and a public key infrastructure.  They will be able to classify a public key infrastructure as  a "wicked problem" in the context of the National Academey of Engineering's cybersecurity  "grand engineering challenge for the next century."  

  • Students will be able to explain the need for a rigorous identity management process and its role in a public key infrastructure.  They will create a model containing critical components of a rigorous identity management process and evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of hardware and software technologies such as biometrics to support identity management. 

  • Students will outline and differentiate the necessary components of a certificate policy and practices statement.  They will write rigorous (and unambiguous) policy and practice statements.
  • Students will be able to advise on the implementation of a public key infrastructure, including the technology, policy, standards, and long-term maintenance considerations. 

When This Course is Typically Offered

This course is typcially offered face-face in the summer term and online in the fall term.


  • E-Security Challenges
  • Cryptology Basics
  • Symmetric/Asymmetric Cryptology Basics
  • Infrastructure Concepts
  • Core PKI Services
  • Public Key Infrastructure Components
  • Certificate Policy and Practices Statement
  • PKI Standards
  • PKI Implementation Considerations
  • Technical Implementation Case Study
  • PKI Status and Trends
  • Identity Management and NSTIC

Student Assessment Criteria

Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%
Homework 20%
Research Paper / Oral Presentation 30%
Online Module Completion/Participation 10%

The total point score for the class is 500.   An "A" grade requires 90% of the points. A "B"  grade requires 80% of the points.   A "C" grade requires 70% of the points.  A "D" grade requires 60% of the points.   Students scoring below 60% do not pass the class.  

Computer and Technical Requirements

There is no specific technical requirement for the course.   Students with basic math skills. basic computer skills, and logical thought processes should be successful.  PKI is an interdisciplinary subject.  Business and policy skills are just as important as engineering and technology skills. 

Participation Expectations

There will be four homework assignments which students are to complete independently. 

There is a course research project which the student may tailor to his/her technical interest.  The student will present the results of the research orally in a class presentation lasting 10-15 minutes and also submit a formal research paper approximately 10 pages in length.  

Students will participate in discussion groups to complete many class exercises.  Students will also participate in onllne discussion forums to consider current cybersecurity topics in the context of PKI.

Exams are open-book and open notes. The exam questions are short-answer essay and require logical analysis.   Exams are to be completed independently. 

in-class discussion is encouraged and online discussions are graded. 

Students are responsible for all material covered in class.   If students must miss a class, they should be sure to get the class notes from the instructor or a fellow student. 

The instructor is available anytime via e-mail or phone.   The instructor is also availabe before or after class to discuss any matters related to the course or technology innovation in general.   Online classes include an optional weekly office hour for interaction with the instructor. 


Textbook information for this course is available online through the MBS Direct Virtual Bookstore.

Course Notes

There are no notes for this course.

Final Words from the Instructor

This course combines both policy and technical concepts relating to a Public Key Infrastructure.  The focus of the course is on the infrastructure components needed to implement a PKI and the value of a PKI with regard to computer security.

Term Specific Course Website

(Last Modified: 06/23/2014 03:17:14 PM)