Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Trusted CI Materials as the Foundation for a University Course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Software security is important to the NSF community because it is critical to their support of science. For example, Trusted CI’s Community Benchmarking Survey consistently finds the overwhelming majority of NSF projects and Large Facilities develop software and also adopts both open source and commercial software, whose quality they assess as part of a cybersecurity risk management.  Trusted CI recognises the importance of this issue and has focused the TrustedCI 2021 Annual Challenge on software assurance.

Trusted CI has been developing training materials to teach secure software design and implementation. These materials have been used at conferences, workshops, and government agencies to train CI professionals in secure coding, design, and testing. More recently, they were used at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to develop a new course on software security.  The new course, CS542, Introduction to Software Security (, is part of the computer science curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The teaching materials support a blended (flipped) model. Lectures are based on video modules and corresponding text chapters, and the classroom time was used for collaborative exercises and discussions. The videos and text are supplemented by hands-on exercises for each module delivered in virtual machines. The online nature of these materials proved themselves to be of even greater value during the remote learning situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new course covers security throughout the various stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC), including secure design, secure coding, and testing and evaluation for security.

These teaching materials are freely available at

Some of the comments from the students at the end of the last class of the Spring 2021 course, taken from the chat window, include:

“Thank you for such an enlightening course! I had a lot of fun!”
“Thank you for a very insightful and interesting course.”
“Thanks for the semester! This class was very interesting and manageable I appreciate it”
“Is this only taught in the Spring? I'd like to recommend the class to some of my CS friends.”
300 students have benefitted from this course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.