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Report Petit Democratic Republic of the Congo 2013

1) Location (country, city, institution) of your lecture:
Université de Kinshasa (UNIKIN)
Républic démocratique du Congo

2) Dates of your lecture:
April 1-5, April 8-12

3) Subject and title of the course:
Cryptography and Computer Security

4) How often did you teach a course?
4 hours a day, five days a week, two weeks (40 hours in total)

5) How many students took part in the course(s)?
About 20 every day (maybe 30 in total)

6) Background of students: Undergraduate/ Master/ PhD Students?
PhD students and teaching assistants from both the new “Doctoral school” and the old “DEA program” of the Faculty of Sciences, plus a few master students (computer science orientation) from the Polytechnic Faculty during the second week. I had to deal with a mixed background, some from Mathematics and others from Computer Science.

7) Please provide (if possible) any schedule of activities/list of topics covered during your visit. 
First week: Cryptography

  • Introduction and motivations, some history
  • Mathematical background: prime numbers, groups, fields and rings, integer rings, quadratic residues, arithmetic basics
  • Encryption algorithms: private key encryption (block ciphers, security definition, stream ciphers), public key encryption (RSA, El Gamal, trapdoor one-way function)
  • Integrity and authenticity: hash functions, MACs and digital signatures
  • Key management: Diffie-Hellman, PKIs
  • Cryptanalysis basics: exhaustive search, birthday attacks (birthday paradox, application to hash functions, Pollard’s rho method for DLP and factorization), index calculus algorithms, side-channel attacks

Second week: computer security

  • Spam and Malwares.
  • Forged E-Mail.
  • Network Vulnerabilities.
  • Firewalls.
  • Network and Application Vulnerabilities.
  • Proxies and IDS.
  • Passwords.
  • Time-memory trade-off.
  • Certificates and PKIs
  • WEP and WPA.
  • IPSec.
  • SSL/TLS.
  • Kerberos.
  • PGP.

I also had some scientific discussions with students willing to start a PhD in cryptography. I will wait until I see how they perform in the exam to decide what will be my actual involvement in their thesis.
I discussed with the professors about their needs, and I will put them in contact with friends of mines that could possibly help.
Finally, we discussed with the professors the possibility to organize an international conference in cryptography at Kinshasa in a few years.

8) Did you develop or follow a prescribed syllabus or did you write your own?  Was it available to the students before the course or when the course began?
For the first part, I developed my own syllabus, provided to the students at the beginning of the course. Solutions to the exercises were provided during the course. For the second part, I used Gildas Avoine’s slides from UCL (Belgium). A printed copy of the slides was provided to the students at the beginning of the course. 

Please also mention the references you used or any text books that were referred to:
For the first part (Cryptography)

  • Jonathan Katz and Yehuda Lindel, Introduction to Modern Cryptography
  • Neal Koblitz, a course in Number Theory and Cryptography

For Part 2 (Computer Security)

  • Gildas Avoine, Pascal Junod and Philippe Oechslin, Computer system security, Basic Concepts and Solved Exercises

9) Did you use any books, classroom material, AV, or other technology-based materials? 
A beamer and my own laptop, besides blackboard. The material was available at Unikin.

10) What type of assessment tools did you use? Attach if available, any notes or exams/quizzes that were distributed to students.
We agreed with the local professors that they will organize the exams four weeks after the course to let the students enough time to revise. I will send them questions by emails and they will send me the copies back by mail. The exams will include some theory and exercise questions that were directly addressed in the course, plus one “advanced” question inspired from a textbook reference, that will help identify the really motivated or skilled students.

11) In which language was the course given:
French-speaking, but the notes were in English.

12) Was the course language the native language of the students?
Yes and no. Properly speaking, the native language of most of them is either Lingala, Kicongo or Tshiluba. However, all of them made all their studies in French and are totally fluent in French.

13) Did you give any public lectures, and did you discuss with local staff issues regarding the curriculum?
The course was completely public. The local professors made a good publicity outside the targeted audience. I got to know a little bit about the local organization and curriculum, and in particular further expertise needs that they may have.

14) Where did you live? (e.g. hotel, hostel, on campus, in city e.g.)
University Guest House, located near the campus.

15) Do you have any recommendations/suggestions to the professor who will visit the university in the future (also regarding accommodation, health and visa issues)?
Be sure to book a place at Maman Pauline’s Guest House long in advance. This is by far the best accommodation you could have there. Even there, be prepared not to have the same comfort as in Western countries (power breaks, scarce internet)
Don’t drink water from the tape.
Contact a doctor long before your depart, since some vaccinations are mandatory (e.g. yellow fever) and anti-malaria medication is a must
You do need a visa to enter the country (about 100 dollars) and a voucher to exit the country (50 dollars)
Don’t go to Congo at a time close to a presidential election. At other times, the campus is supposed to be very safe. The city of Kinshasa is not particularly dangerous if you follow locals’ recommendations. In particular, don’t unnecessarily tempt thieves and always ask before taking pictures in public places (you may have to give a $5 “tip” to the local policeman or military before).
Try not to approach the police in general. Keep your passport and visa at safe in your room, and travel daily with a photocopy of them.
Even if it the weather is very hot, don’t dress with short pants or sandals: more than elsewhere, people there expect university professors to be very elegant ;-)

16) Would you like to share anything else, such as a particular experience, testimonial etc.?
As everywhere, make sure to show respect to people and to follow local use and habits. Anyway, people there are very friendly and will appreciate that you come.