Duke Computer Science Colloquium

TLS Basics — Understanding How Transport Layer Security Protects You Online

November 7, -
Speaker(s): Melva T. James


Lunch will be served at 11:45 AM.


The Web is a fundamentally insecure place. In this lecture, I’ll present some of the historical context for why this is and describe how Transport Layer Security (TLS) protects confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity online. Targeted to an audience with general computing knowledge but no networking or security experience, students should leave this talk understanding both the basic technical mechanisms implemented by TLS to support the (largely invisible) work of creating secure communication channels and the distinction between the security goals of TLS vs. the security goals of user credentials.

Growing with Duke: In the second part of my presentation, I will present a vision for how I hope to contribute and grow, professionally, at Duke over the next 3-5 years.

Speaker Bio:

Melva T. James, PhD is a technical consultant at Ab Initio Software in Lexington, MA. They have a strong foundation in the planning and execution of scientific studies, data analysis, and technical communication, and they bring over a decade of expertise in STEM research. Their specialized skills include systems-level threat and vulnerability assessment, software usability assessment, and persuasive software design. Dr. James earned their Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from Clemson University. Their dissertation research involved the iterative design, building, and testing of a mobile application to support food consumption monitoring and decision making. They also hold degrees in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SM ’07; ABD) and the University of Mississippi. Throughout their career, Dr. James has actively pursued opportunities to teach and mentor both STEM students and new professionals entering the computing field. From developing courses in software security at Ab Initio to teaching computer systems engineering at MIT, Dr. James has shared their knowledge in a variety of settings and is committed to broadening participation in computer science from all segments of society.


Susan Rodger