Using the Security Protocol Game to teach computer network security

Leonard G. C. Hamey


The Security Protocol Game is a highly interactive game for teaching secure data communications protocols. Students use the game to simulate security protocols and explore possible attacks against them. The power of the game lies in the representation it provides for secret and public key cryptography – a unique combination of game rules and playing pieces has been devised that accurately represents the mathematical capabilities of cryptographic systems. Using pen and paper, envelopes and printed game pieces, students can simulate a wide range of computer network security protocols including well-known protocols such as SSL and Pretty Good Privacy. Such simulations enable students to gain a deep understanding of how the protocols operate and how protocol design affects security of the protocol. Student response to the game is positive and engaging. It has been successfully used with both information technology students and management students. This paper presents the game briefly followed by analysis and discussion of a recent survey of student response to the game.

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