Michael A. Specter


Office: 1007 CODA


I’m an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech, in both the department of Computer Science and Cybersecurity & Privacy, and a Senior Research Scientist at Google.

My research focuses on systems security and applied cryptography, particularly in areas relevant to public policy. Topics that interest me include surveillance, network security, deniability, platform oblivious content moderation, misinformation, and elections security. Check out my publications page, or the course I teach to learn more.

I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, where I was lucky to be advised by Gerry Sussman and Danny Weitzner. My thesis committee included Matthew D. Green, Joan Feigenbaum, and Ron Rivest. Prior to becoming a graduate student, I was research staff at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory.

I am looking for PhD students to join my lab!

Please apply to Georgia Tech’s Computer Science PhD program and list me as an advisor! I assure you, I will see any candidate that applies and lists my name. Please do not send me email, as I cannot reply that way.

If you are a current Georgia Tech student, or have interest in joining as a postdoc, please fill out this form!


program committees

  • ACM CS&LAW: 2025
  • IEEE S&P: 2023, 2022
  • Usenix Security: 2023, 2022
  • Euro S&P: 2021

press, awards, & other work

Selected Press: 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.

Awards: I earned a research award from the Elections Verification Network, and an EFF Pioneer Award for my joint work on encryption policy, which has been used in congressional testimony on surveillance and law enforcement.

Outside of my academic work, I’ve written for Lawfare, and contributed to the EFF’s Brief to the Supreme Court on the need to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. I enjoy finding bugs in my spare time, and am a contributor to Google’s Linux kernel fuzzer Syzkaller.


Jan 06, 2024 Published a refresh of the Android security threat model paper, the official source from Google on how Android security works.
Aug 01, 2023 I have joined Georgia Tech full time as a new Assistant Professor!
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 I presented our security analysis of Voatz at Defcon! (Presentation, Usenix Paper)
Jul 20, 2020 I coauthored an EFF-led amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Van Buren case describing the need to limit the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (Press Release, Brief)
Jul 14, 2020 Our security analysis of Voatz was accepted to Usenix Security 2020!

latest posts

selected publications

This is only a small subset, see my Google Scholar for more up-to-date details, or my full CV.

    Security Analysis of the Democracy Live Online Voting System
    Michael A. Specter, and J. Alex Halderman
    In 30th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 21) , 2021
    KeyForge: Mitigating Email Breaches with Forward-Forgeable Signatures
    Michael A. Specter, Sunoo Park, and Matthew Green
    In 30th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 21) , 2021
    The Ballot is Busted Before the Blockchain: A Security Analysis of Voatz, the First Internet Voting Application Used in US Federal Elections
    Michael A. Specter, James Koppel, and Daniel Weitnzer
    In 29th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 20) , 2020
  4. CACM
    Keys Under Doormats: Mandating Insecurity by Requiring Government Access to All Data and Communications
    Harold Abelson, Ross Anderson, Steven M. Bellovin, Josh Benaloh, Matt Blaze, Whitfield Diffie, John Gilmore, Matthew Green, Susan Landau, Peter G. Neumann, Ronald L. Rivest, Jeffrey I Schiller, Bruce Schneier, Michael A. Specter, and Daniel J. Weitzner
    Journal of Cybersecurity, 2015
    Published in: Oxford University Press, and the Communications of the ACM
    Names listed alphabetically.
    Press: The New York Times, TechCrunch, Ars Technica, MIT Technology Review, Cited by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo & Senator Ron Wyden,