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Development of Undergraduate Network Security Labs with Open Source Tools

Undergraduate level network security classes are usually taught during the junior or senior year of an undergraduate education, because it is assumed that students have acquired the necessary background material in previous classes, such as algorithms, programming, and networks. Although students should have had enough exposure to the background material, they still potentially face difficulties in grasping theories and concepts related to the network security field. One way to address this concern is to give homework, or require laboratory exercises with programming assignments. Programming assignments provide the students with an excellent opportunity to digest the concepts. However, they are usually focused too much on one aspect of the problem rather than overall picture of the particular topic of interest. Thus, it is vital to design network security labs that combine theory and available applications representative of the lecture component of the class. In this study, we discuss the development of the laboratory component of an undergraduate network security course for the Telecommunications Engineering Technology (TCET) program at Southern Polytechnic State University. As with other engineering technology programs, the TCET program maintains an application-oriented approach in all of its courses. Creating the laboratory component is often the most challenging part of the overall course development task. The availability of numerous open source security tools provided resources for all of the lab exercises as well as many of the lectures.