Defense Against the Dark Arts
Hours per Week
/ 5.0 Difficulty
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Lectures and information are only marginally related to the weekly assignments. Be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and attempting to find sources that might help you work out what you might possibly be trying to do for the week's assignments. Some are reasonably possible with info that you can scrape from the internet, but some are utterly incomprehensible. I turned several assignments in unfinished because I just could not figure out any steps forward in trying to work them out.
Submitted Sat Dec 12 2020
Don't take this class if you like clarity, instructor interaction, or ever actually receiving grades for your assignments. Homework/labs are not closely related to the weekly lecture material and you are mostly left alone to decipher the vague instructions, figure out what the expected tools are, and put together a write up with no feedback on what should be included.
Submitted Thu Jul 23 2020
The points for this class are for the most part spread across three different categories: 1) weekly write-ups, 2) homework/labs, and 3) final presentation. The weekly write ups are pretty straight forward, you summarize the things you learned during the lecture and labs assigned that week. Some weeks my write ups were 5+ pages and other weeks they were a single page long, but I always got full credit. The homework and labs are by far the most challenging part of the class, but they're worth so little in terms of points that you can literally take a raincheck on two of them and still be fine. In fact, that's what I did and I still finished the class with an A. The final presentation is a ~20 minute presentation on a topic discussed in class, or at least related to what was discussed in class. I managed to put mine together in two days. Other things to note when deciding to take this class: - This class gets extremely light towards the end as the final presentation takes the place of your traditional final and also because the later assignments are much easier. I think the last homework assignment (hackthebox) took me three hours. - The instructor is extremely slow on getting you your grades back. In fact, I never got a grade back for my last lab, last write-up, and the final presentation. I had to look at my official transcript to find out what grade I got for this class.
Submitted Tue Dec 31 2019
They don't care about this class...I gave less and less effort each week and still got an A. Im pretty good at BSing write ups, so maybe I have an advantage there. Some interesting topics, some insight into hacking, but one of my least favorite courses behind SE1 and SE2. Kind of turned me off from pursuing a career in security.
Submitted Sun Dec 22 2019
This course was pretty easy, and the grading was lenient if it looked like you put in a good amount of effort. The lectures will take you a fair bit of time (3+ hrs per week), but the material was very interesting and the labs were fun. Professor McGrath was also very engaged with the course and was always willing to answer questions on Slack. My only gripe is that the material is starting to become outdated (The lectures were recorded in 2015). One of the labs used a VM with XP, for reference. That said, the lectures are very good, as they are taught by experts from Intel/McAfee, just need some updating.
Submitted Thu Dec 19 2019
The hardest part of the course is setting up the labs and assignments.
Submitted Thu Apr 11 2019
The Good: Really interesting course with some great lecturers some cool tools and malware you get to explore, as well as a fun final which now consists of completing challenges on Hack the Box. You will learn a lot. The Bad: The professor begins by stating that this is a "get out what you put in class" and that is BS. That's the excuse the professor uses to justify getting full pay for "teaching" a class in which I doubt he spends more than 15 minutes a week on. Seriously, the most you can expect out of him in answering 1 or 2 questions on Piazza (some weeks he ignores all questions) but most of his answers are not helpful. The TAs are non-existent as in several of us wonder if they even exist. We don't know who they are or their emails, they aren't on piazza, and they don't comment on grades, they simply deduct points with no explanation. Furthermore there are people who completed the class and still hadn't received grades for about half of their assignments. Advice: Don't expect a well run class and you will get really frustrated at times when trying things like setting up your VM and getting no help from the instructor when things go wrong. That said if you go into the class with that expectation you will have a decent time and learn a lot. Also the grading is incredibly lenient.
Submitted Tue Mar 26 2019
I wanted to love this class. Like others have said, you get out what you put in to this. The professor can't be bothered by students asking questions which was off putting. Overall... fine survey course that left me uninspired.
Submitted Mon Mar 18 2019
The format of the class is to watch weekly lectures about 3-4 hours long, then regurgitate the content in a blog post, peppered with maybe 2 easy coding assignments throughout. The final is to make a 30 minute presentation that counts for 50% of your grade over some security topic. I would have liked more 'hands-on' activities weekly. If I could speak to my past self, I would advise to take another elective.
Submitted Wed Sep 05 2018
Be sure to read the notes in the lecture module. A few mention that the weekly write-up should include some detail about a lab, but that requirement isn't highlighted anywhere else other than a sentence below all of the videos. If the module doesn't mention the lab as required, then you can skip it, though as a learning experience it might still be worth doing. The programming assignments are easy though the directions are nonexistent. Just do the bare minimum, if it doesn't say the program has to be interactive than you don't need to make it interactive. Also, the syllabus mentions something about compiling on the VM but it's not actually possible since you can't transfer on/off and the TA wont be able to either. If you show some effort and can check off any of the requirement in some form you should get a 100.
Submitted Tue Aug 28 2018
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