Asee peer logo

Using Amazon EC2 in Computer and Network Security Lab Exercises: Design, Results, and Analysis

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Laboratory Development in ECE II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1418.1 - 25.1418.21



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Chuan Yue University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

visit author page

Chuan Yue is an Assistant Professor of computer science at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). His current research focuses on web browsing security and collaborative browsing. His broad research interests include computer and information security, web-based systems, human-computer interaction, collaborative computing, distributed and parallel computing, and cloud computing. He received his B.E. and M.E. degrees in computer science from the Xidian University, China, in 1996 and 1999, respectively, and his Ph.D. in computer science from the College of William and Mary in 2010. He worked as a member of technical staff at Bell Labs China, Lucent Technologies, for four years from 1999 to 2003, mainly on the development of a web-based distributed service management system for an intelligent network.

visit author page


Weiying Zhu Metropolitan State College of Denver

visit author page

Weiying Zhu received a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va., in Aug. 2006, a M.S. in communication and information engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, in June 1999, and a B.S. in biomedical electronic engineering from Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, China, in July 1996. She worked as a Software Engineer in Bell Labs China at Lucent Technologies from July 1999 to Jan. 2003. She had been an Assistant Professor in Hampton University from Aug. 2006 to July 2011. She joined Metropolitan State College of Denver in Aug. 2011. Her career has been distinguished by a series of awards such as the in the Provost Teaching Innovation Award in April 2010, the First Place Graduate Research Award at Global Challenges, Local Solutions: Annual Research Expo in Norfolk, Va., in April 2006, the University Dissertation Fellowship in Academic Year 2005–2006, the ECE Ph.D. Research Assistant Award in 2004, the member of Bell Labs President’s Gold Winner Team Award in 2000, and the University Outstanding Thesis Award in 1999.

visit author page


Gregory Lynn Williams University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

visit author page

Gregory Williams is the Information Technology Security Principal for the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and is currently working toward his master's of engineering degree in information assurance also from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He has a passion for learning for not only information security concepts and theory, but also current real world technology and zero-day threat models. His passion for education has lead him to help others understand why information security is important and what we can do to defend our information.

visit author page


Edward Chow University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

visit author page

C. Edward Chow is professor of computer science at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin. His research aims at improving the security, reliability, and performance of network systems. He has two U.S. patents on distributed network restoration and survivable architecture. He recently developed an efficient internet security (IPSec) protocol that significantly improves the performance and security of online storage systems. In an AFOSR-NISSC sponsored project, a secure information sharing system was developed for setting up secure information infrastructure which is based on attribute certificate to coordinate multiple agencies task forces. He is the Principal Investigator of an international collaboration project that involves Taipei National Art University, UCCS, and Denver Children Hospital, using Laban dance notation, computer animation, and a wireless sensor-based human motion tracking system to improve rehab patient care. He just received an Air Force SBIR grant to develop games for accelerating the learning of techniques against insider attacks. He organized the UC Lion team to compete in 2006-2010 international Capture the Flag cyber security exercises held in December.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Using Amazon EC2 in Computer and Network Security Lab Exercises: Design, Results, and AnalysisThere is no doubt that cloud computing has become a reality. People talk about it, spend moneyon it, and gain substantial benefit from it. In response to this significant trend in computing, ourengineering college encourages faculty members to use cloud computing services such as AWS(Amazon Web Services) in teaching computer science and engineering courses. On the onehand, we can better prepare our students for their future careers in a cloud computing world; onthe other hand, we can effectively address the resource limitation of our existing labenvironments and meanwhile ease the burden our IT professionals who maintain the existinginfrastructure.Hands-on lab exercises play an important role in teaching a computer and network securitycourse because they can help students apply basic security principles and techniques to theprotection of real world computer and network systems. In our computer and network securitycourse, each student is required to perform four realistic lab exercises: an IDS (IntrusionDetection System) lab exercise, a firewall lab exercise, a Web security lab exercise, and asoftware vulnerability exploitation lab exercise.In this paper, we present our experience in enabling students to use Amazon EC2 (ElasticCompute Cloud) to perform lab exercises of our computer and network security course. The freeusage of AWS cloud infrastructure for this course is enabled by an AWS Teaching Grantawarded to the instructor.We mainly present the following three aspects of our experience. First, we detail the design ofthose four lab exercises. The design includes the content of the lab exercises, the setup of AWSstudent accounts and lab environments, and the general instruction on creating and using EC2instances. Second, we present the results of performing those lab exercises by our students. Wedescribe and discuss how well they perform those lab exercises, what are the special difficultiesencountered by students, and what are other issues observed by us. Finally, we analyze thequestionnaires answered by our students. From the responses to close-ended questions, weanalyze whether students feel it is convenient to use AWS EC2, whether they like to use cloudcomputing services to perform lab exercises in this and other computer and engineering courses,and so on. From open-ended questionnaires, we analyze and discuss any other comments andsuggestions provided by students.The experience presented in this paper is very valuable to faculty members of our engineeringcollege for moving more lab exercises into the cloud. We believe that it is also valuable to othereducators who plan to use cloud computing services such as AWS EC2 in their computer andengineering courses. Some discussions regarding student accounts and EC2 instancemanagement could also be valuable to cloud computing service providers for adding newfeatures or improving existing features.

Yue, C., & Zhu, W., & Williams, G. L., & Chow, E. (2012, June), Using Amazon EC2 in Computer and Network Security Lab Exercises: Design, Results, and Analysis Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22175

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015