From national security to the privacy of personal communications, the smooth running of societies and economies depends on the security of computer networks. With a security breach potentially costing a company millions, highly skilled experts who can provide protection are sought-after across the globe. Technology is constantly developing and security issues are too, making this a challenging and rapidly evolving specialism.
Why study MSc Network Security and Pen Testing at Middlesex?
Students on this programme will gain an understanding of the fundamental importance of computer networks, and communication systems security within an organisation. They will learn to involve management and user in awareness, decision-making and implementation with regard to network security and pen testing.
Students will develop the skills and knowledge required to analyse security risks within a communication system and to propose or devise solutions; to evaluate new threats to authentication, confidentiality and privacy, and to implement solutions to combat them; to make a functional security design for a communication system and implement it successfully; and they will acquire the skills to test systems' ability to withstand risks whilst undertaking test analysis and performing security management.
The course offers a balance of theory, advanced practical skills and experience to enable students to develop a sound knowledge and analytical ability to facilitate their intellectual and professional development.
Our masters degree in MSc Network Security and Pen Testing gives you an in-depth understanding of online security risks, the steps needed to ensure that data is transmitted and stored securely, and measures that can be taken not only to prevent breaches but to minimise damage if they do occur.
There are seven compulsory modules plus a research methods module which complements your independent project. This is a major part of the course, worth a third of your overall mark, whereby you produce a piece of original research relevant to the industry – either using existing or emerging technology to solve a practical problem, or extending the theoretical understanding of new technology.
You'll design, analyse and build security systems, software and hardware applications, becoming familiar with the configurations of different systems in our laboratories and learning to choose the appropriate measures and applications for a network. Secure transactions, authentication measures, cryptography and encryption techniques, intrusion detection, penetration testing, firewalls, AAA and more are all covered during the masters degree.
The course also looks at network design and construction, and programming and operating systems more generally, as well as legal, ethical and professional issues. In addition to your expertise in your subject, the course will improve your mathematical, problem solving, teamwork, communication, time management and critical skills.
Security Architecture and Mechanisms
All of the key concepts and critical issues of network security are covered in this module, with particular emphasis on standards, protocols and applications. The module will provide you with an understanding of network security technologies, algorithms and protocols, the design criteria in cryptography and data security, as well as developing basic system analysis and solution synthesis.
Penetration Testing and Forensics
The aim of this module is to provide you with the knowledge and experience in methodological approach to computer forensics and evidence analysis. It will familiarise you with the methods intruders use to gain unauthorised access to an organisation's networked systems and then compromise them. The extensive module involves at least 72 hours spent working in labs, developing in-depth experience of pen- testing methodologies and various vulnerability assessment procedures.
Computer Networks and Internetworking
During this module you will develop a systematic understanding of the concepts, protocols and standards for computer networks and internetworking, used in current and future communication infrastructures. It is vital in today's networking market that network managers, administrators and engineers have a critical insight and practical experience of the essential tools used for monitoring, managing and evaluating computer networks. This module, which includes at least 12 hours spent working in labs, is designed to equip you with these problem solving and practical skills.
Operating Systems and Applications Environment
This module focuses on the design and implementation of the modern operating systems and application environments used to build commercial, online applications. The module involves at least 12 hours of lab work and examines key operating concepts including processes and threads, memory management, scheduling, inter-process communication (IPC), device drivers, storage systems, multiprocessor systems, micro-kernels and networking interfaces. You will concentrate on Linux, Windows, Apple iOS and Android operating systems before focusing on a detailed study of key application environments including the Eclipse IDE, XCode, and Android SDK. Finally, we look at the concept of virtual machines and building applications for the cloud using the Google GAE SDK.
Cyber Security and Legal Regulations
This module provides you with a solid introduction to the subject of cyber security and information assurance. This includes a broad understanding of the security technologies available to support information assurance and security requirements and vulnerabilities corresponding to attack vectors. It will also explore regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, E-commerce Bill, key escrow.
Network Security and Services
Network services and security mechanisms are the primary focus of this module, which involves a minimum 12 hours of lab work. You will study the security of services deployed using the internet and the mechanisms which make them secure. During the module you will also investigate various networking technologies, including wired and wireless Ethernet, server hardware such as Blade Server Technology, networking architectures including IP networking and the Y-Comm Architecture, commercial Web servers using LAMP and the .NET Framework, Grid Computing and Cloud Computing. After this you will examine security mechanisms including Firewalls, the Secure Socket Layer (SSL), Network Address Translation (NAT), IPSec Framework and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS). The course then explores new security mechanisms such as the Security Layers of the Y-Comm framework, Proxy Certificates and Certificate Authorities used in Grid and Cloud Computing.
Project Research and Communication Skill
This zero-credit module is designed to develop your understanding of the process behind designing, planning and conducting applied research – which is essential before embarking upon your final 60-credit project. The research methods module covers research techniques, data collection and analysis, academic writing, referencing and citation, and how to develop a research proposal before you present your project through a written thesis and an oral exam.
Postgraduate Project in Computer Communications
Your final module is a large project on a topic you are a passionate about which is worth one third of the total masters. The project gives you the chance to combine your general and specialist computer and communications engineering knowledge and understanding, applying an existing or emerging technology to the solution of a practical problem. You could instead choose to carry out research to contribute and extend the theoretical understanding of new and advancing technology and its application. Through your project will also be able to demonstrate a personal commitment to professional standards, recognising obligations to society, the profession and the environment, while also becoming a specialist in a particular area of computer and communications engineering.
Recent areas students have chosen to investigate have included evaluating WSNs, VANETs and open queuing networks with unreliable servers.
Each module is assessed through a combination of group and/or individual coursework, presentations and an unseen examination or a major piece of coursework. In general, the coursework component of each module accounts for 30%-50% of the module grade, while the unseen examination accounts for 50%-70% depending on the nature of the module. The Postgraduate Project in Computer Communications, undertaken at the end of the programme, gives the student the opportunity to demonstrate in a practical way the knowledge and skills acquired from the programme as a whole, including the student's own self-directed learning and research.
To be accepted to study on the MSc Computer Networks and Pen Testing course, we normally require graduates with a good honours degree, or equivalent qualification, in an appropriate subject. We also consider candidates with other relevant qualifications and individuals with a minimum of three years' work experience. Those without formal qualifications need to demonstrate relevant work experience and the ability to study at postgraduate level.
English language requirements
You must have competence in English language. The most common English Language requirement for international students is IELTS 6.5 (with minimum grade 6.0 in all four components), or equivalent. If you are unsure whether you meet the minimum requirements please contact the Malta campus admissions office.