Michael Specter

Make Evil Expensive // CV

I am a final-year PhD candidate in Computer Science at MIT, where I’m a member of the Internet Policy Research Initiative and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, advised by Gerry Sussman and Danny Weitzner. I’m also a research affiliate at Google, where I work with the Android Security and Privacy Team.

I like to focus on problems in systems security and applied cryptography, particularly in areas relevant to public policy. Check out my publications page or Google Scholar profile for more details.

My research on elections security has been featured in the New York Times (twice), the New Yorker, CNN, Vice, Bloomberg, Fortune, The Economist, and others. I earned an EFF Pioneer Award for my joint work on encryption policy, which has since been used in congressional testimony on surveillance and law enforcement.

Outside of my academic work, I’ve written for Lawfare, and recently contributed to the EFF’s Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court on the need to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. I’m also a contributor to Google’s Linux kernel fuzzer Syzkaller.

Prior to joining MIT CSAIL as a graduate student, I was research staff in MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Cyber Security and Information Sciences division. There I learned a ton about developing technologies to support national security, and worked mainly on malware analysis, reverse engineering, and vulnerability discovery.


Sep 16, 2020 :email: Our work on deniability in email “Keyforge: Mitigating Email Breaches with Forward-Forgeable Signatures” was accepted to Usenix Security ‘21 (Blogpost, Paper)
Sep 15, 2020 :ballot_box: Our security analysis of OmniBallot was accepted to Usenix Security ‘21 (Blogpost, Paper)
Aug 10, 2020 :boom: I presented our security analysis of Voatz at Defcon! (Presentation, Usenix Paper) :boom:
Jul 20, 2020 ⚖ I joined as an amicus to an EFF-led amicus brief to SCOTUS on the need to reform the CFAA (Press Release, Brief)
Jul 14, 2020 Our security analysis of Voatz was accepted to Usenix Security 2020!