Lecture Type
Prof. Dr. Michael Backes, Prof. Dr. Christoph Sorge
Sven Bugiel, Frederik Möllers, Stefan Nürnberger, Philipp von Styp-Rekowsky
Kick-off Meeting
Thursday, 30th April from 14:00 – 16:00 (s.t.), E1.1 Room 2.06
English (German possible on request)
University Calender
Proseminar Hacking

Latest News

  • 09.07.2015: Exercise 5 online
  • 11.06.2015: Exercise 3 online
  • 29.05.2015: Exercise 2 online
  • 21.05.2015: Exercise 1 online
  • 30.04.2015: Topic assignments and Exercise 0 online
  • 28.04.2015: Switched dates for web security and forensic topics
  • 22.04.2015: Registration closed
  • 14.04.2015: Registration opened
  • 24.03.2015: Shifted the date of the kick-off meeting
  • 17.03.2015: The course website is online


Goal of this Proseminar is to give students a deep understanding of the typical security problems and weaknesses that pervade all kinds of IT systems today. The participants should be enabled to analyze IT systems for security vulnerabilities and hence to optimally secure such systems.

To this end, this seminar deals primarily with offensive aspects and techniques of IT security, for example, as used to compromise and infiltrate computer systems. A particular focus lies on the exploitation of vulnerabilities in security protocols and of software implementations. To provide a more solid understanding of the discussed attack techniques, this seminar strongly mixes theoretical and practical aspects. On the one hand, participants are conveyed the typical Proseminar learning contents (e.g., presentation techniques, autonomous work on the assigned topic, etc.). On the other hand, the participants are required to also introduce and apply established tools for exploiting and attacking IT systems in the context of capture-the-flag styled exercises as well as to consider defensive mechanisms to mitigate and prevent those attacks. Solely the topic “Social Engineering” is an exception from this approach and is discussed only theoretically.

Students are organised in teams of two. Every team has to deal in depth with one topic and give one presentation on their assigned topic. The practical exercises have to be worked on by every team. In contrast to the presentation sessions, there are no fixed dates for the practical exercises, but instead these tasks have to be solved in between the presentation session dates.

The exercise topic list includes:

  • Discovery and analysis of target systems
  • Breaking passwords
  • Breaking WEP/WPA
  • Attacks on web applications
  • Software exploitation
  • Forensic techniques
  • Privilege escalation and operating system security
  • Side-channel attacks


We are sorry, but the registration has been closed ealier due to the enormous rush on the seminar places! Thus, all available places have been assigned.

For registered students: Final registration is done at the kick-off meeting and physical presence at this meeting is required for participation in the seminar. An ordered list of the registered students will be propagated via email soon.

Please note that the number of participants is limited to 24 (12 teams)!


There are no formal requirements for participation. However, basics in the area of computer networks as well as basics in programming are expected to be able to solve the practical exercises.

A CIP pool with workstations for the practical exercises is provided, however, for some tasks, it is beneficial if the participants have a laptop available.

Modus operandi

1) Proseminar Talk and Summary

Each team gives one presentation in English (20 minutes plus 10 minutes discussion) and provides a written summary in English (2-3 pages) about their assigned topic. Templates for common presentation programs are provided . The summary must be written in LaTeX (you can use our template with example bibliography file). The summary should include a short overview of the topic including necessary technical background information as well as a thorough description of the assigned attack/vulnerability. Each team must submit a draft version of their report at latest two weeks before the end of the seminar to receive feedback from their assigned TA. The final reports are due at the end of the seminar!

Each team will be supervised by the TA responsible for the assigned topic. There will be a discussion session where each team meets with their advisor and discusses the topic. Before giving the presentation, each team will have to give a practice talk in a separate session with their advisor before the presentation.

Submitting a draft report and giving a practice talk are mandatory to successfully pass this seminar!

Deadlines for talks and reports:

  • Practice talk: At latest the Tuesday before your presentation date! Contact your assigned TA to schedule a meeting!
  • Draft report: July 6
  • Final report: July 20

Here is a list of recommended literature on how to prepare a good presentation and a good report:

2) Practical Exercises and Exercise Reports

Additionally, between two presentation sessions, the participants have to solve a practical exercise. Each exercise deals with the topic of the last presentation session, i.e., after the first teams presented WLAN/Network security, the practical exercise deals with, for instance, breaking wireless WLAN encryption. A list of recommended tools to perform the practical exercise is provided further down on this site. Prior to the subsequent presentation session, each team has to submit a short report on how they solved the exercise. In contrast to the assigned Proseminar summary (see above), these exercise reports are not evaluated by their form and layout, but purely by their content. Thus, although we encourage the use of LaTex to practice writing scientific documents, these reports can be authored in any other program (e.g., MS Word, OpenOffice, nano,…) as long as they remain readable.

Every presentation session starts with a short recap on how to solve the last exercise, thus, also reserving time to answer open questions and briefly discuss alternative approaches or counter-measures.

Presentation session schedule

All presentation sessions take place between 14:00-16:00 (c.t.) in E1.1 Room 2.06 (CIP Pool of the InfSec group) at the following dates . Participation in the organizational meeting and all the presentation sessions is mandatory!
We encourage all students to present in English (see below for an explanation), but we allow presentations in German when requested.

Date Topic TA Students
2015-Apr-30 (14:00 s.t.) Kick-off meeting
2015-May-21 Password security frederik.moellers(aeht)uni-saarland.de Nicolas Schäfer, Joris Nix
Legal aspects christoph.sorge(aeht)uni-saarland.de">Prof. Christoph Sorge Marius Steffens, Christian Thiel
2015-May-28 File system forensic frederik.moellers(aeht)uni-saarland.de Christian Herz, Sebastian Fasig
Coldboot attacks frederik.moellers(aeht)uni-saarland.de Thomas Zapp, Hans Jörg Bernardi
2015-Jun-11 WLAN Security bugiel(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Sven Bugiel Julius Kilger, Fabian Spaniol
Network Layer 2 bugiel(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Sven Bugiel Jonas Cirotzki, Peter Axt
2015-Jun-25 Buffer Overflow nuernberger(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Stefan Nürnberger Julian Jacques Maurer, Jonas Hollm
Return-Oriented Programming nuernberger(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Stefan Nürnberger Kai Greshake, Jens Heyens
2015-Jul-09 SQL Injection styp-rekowsky(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Philipp von Styp-Rekowsky Daniel Schäfer, Dominik Weber
XSS styp-rekowsky(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Philipp von Styp-Rekowsky Christian Becker, Philipp Staudt
2015-Jul-23 Side-Channel Attacks 1 bugiel(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Sven Bugiel Paul Szymanski, Birk Blechschmidt
Side-Channel Attacks 2 bugiel(aeht)cs.uni-saarland.de">Sven Bugiel Pascal Dupre, Ferdinand Jost
2015-Jul-30 Concluding meeting
TBA Hacker Jeopardy

Please note that this list of dates might be subject to changes! Any changes will be propagated via email to the participants.

List of tools

The following list provides an overview of the suggested tools to be used in the practical exercises. In general, most of these tools are already available in the software repositories of the major Linux distributions and are included in dedicated Linux distributions for security testing such as Kali .

Tool URL Description
nmap nmap.org Open source for network discovery; additions are available like GUI or tools for results analysis
Wireshark wireshark.org Network sniffer
Etherape etherape.sourceforge.net Network monitor
Ettercap ettercap.github.io Network monitor and tool for man-in-the-middle attacks
Netcat netcat.sourceforge.net Network “swiss army knife”
OpenVAS openvas.org Open source vulnerability scanner
Metasploit metasploit.com Penetration test suite
John the ripper openwall.com/john/ Password cracker
Cain and Abel oxid.it/cain.html Password recovery tool
Rainbow tables project-rainbowcrack.com General purpose cracking of hashes
Aircrack-ng aircrack-ng.org WEP and WPA-PSK key cracker
Kismet kismetwireless.net WLAN detector and sniffer

Why English?

Like other groups, we decided to hold this Proseminar in English for several reasons:

  • The research papers, books, and other literature that is provided to you is written in English.
  • For most notions that occur in the security and computer science literature the English notion has been commonly adopted in German (e.g., “stack” instead of “Kellerspeicher”) or are sometimes ambiguous in German. For instance, both “security” and “safety’ translate to “Sicherheit”, but have a different meaning in the literature. So for a German talk you would most likely resort to a presentation in “Denglisch”.
  • The proseminar provides you with a safe space to practice your English. Speaking and writing in English will be required of you in most of your follow-up courses and seminars (if not all) and in your future career.
  • English is fun!

The TAs speak both German and English and will help you in case of problems. Moreover, your grade will not be influenced by your language skills! We strongly encourage you for above mentioned reasons to present in English, but we allow presentations in German if favoured by the speaker.

Requirements for obtaining credit points (Scheinvergabe)

Your final grade is based on 1) the quality of your presentation and the quality of your written summary ( 35% ); and 2) solving the practical exercises and submitting reports on how they were solved ( 65% ). Both grades must be 4.0 or higher to successfully pass the course.
Participation in the organisational meeting and all the presentation sessions is required for obtaining the credit points! Submitting a draft report and giving a practice talk to your TA is required for obtaining the credit points!