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Because the behavior of telecommunications networks and the internet is so foundational to realistic threat modeling, this section should be used before any subsequent discussion of chat tools designed to protect network-level communication like Signal, or tools that encrypt and tunnel traffic, such as VPNs, or Tor. This section opens with some visuals to help illustrate how the internet works. It will afterward be primarily discussion focused, dealing with the visibility of browsing data when visiting websites.


Threat modeling

Estimated time

35-40 minutes


  • Upon successful completion of this lesson, students will be able to distinguish between secure and unsecured web connections on the web and telecommunications networks.
  • Students will be able to distinguish between communications content and metadata.

Why this matters

It might sound obvious, but it's important to understand how the data can be seen by third parties that you use every day (e.g., internet service provider, telephone company) so that students can craft effective responses to security threats they'll see in the wild.


(Before class)

Sample slides

Internet and telecommunication security (Google Slides)


(This session will be discussion-focused)

Questions for discussion

  • When you connect to a website, who can see that you connected to that website?
  • Do you think private browsing mode (e.g., Google's Incognito) will help with this? Why or why not?
  • When you call someone or text someone, who do you think can see it?

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