Ross J. Anderson

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For other people named Ross Anderson, see Ross Anderson (disambiguation).
Ross Anderson
Ross Anderson (security researcher).jpg
Ross Anderson in 2008
Born (1956-09-15) 15 September 1956 (age 57)
Residence United Kingdom
Nationality British
Fields Computer science
Institutions University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Thesis Robust Computer Security (1995)
Doctoral advisor Roger Needham
Doctoral students Markus Kuhn
Robert Watson
Richard Clayton
Michael Bond
George Danezis
Feng Hao[1]
Known for work on banking security, security economics, information policy, Serpent, University of Cambridge politics

Ross John Anderson, FRS (born 1956) is a researcher, writer, and industry consultant in security engineering.[2] He is ″Cambridge University’s Head of Cryptography″ and Professor in Security Engineering at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory[3] where he is engaged in the ″Security Group″.[4]


In 1978, Anderson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and natural science from Trinity College, Cambridge, and subsequently received a qualification in computer engineering. He worked in the avionics and banking industry before moving in 1992 back to the University of Cambridge, to work on his doctorate under the supervision of Roger Needham and start his career as an academic researcher.[5] He received his PhD in 1995, and became a lecturer in the same year.[6] He lives near Sandy, Bedfordshire.


Anderson's research interests[1][7][8][9] are in computer security. In cryptography, he designed with Eli Biham the BEAR, LION and Tiger cryptographic primitives, and coauthored with Biham and Lars Knudsen the block cipher Serpent, one of the finalists in the AES competition. He has also discovered weaknesses in the FISH cipher and designed the stream cipher Pike.

In 1998, Anderson founded the Foundation for Information Policy Research, a think tank and lobbying group on information-technology policy.

Anderson is also a founder of the UK-Crypto mailing list and the economics of security research domain.[10]

He is well-known among Cambridge academics as an outspoken defender of academic freedoms, intellectual property, and other matters of university politics. He is engaged in the ″Campaign for Cambridge Freedoms″ [11] and has been an elected member of Cambridge University Council since 2002.[12] In January 2004, the student newspaper Varsity declared Anderson to be Cambridge University’s “most powerful person”.[13]

In 2002, he became an outspoken critic of trusted computing proposals, in particular Microsoft’s Palladium operating system vision.[14]

Anderson's TCPA FAQ has been characterized by IBM TC researcher David R. Safford as "full of technical errors" and of "presenting speculation as fact."[15]

For years Anderson has been arguing that by their nature large databases will never be free of abuse by breaches of security. He has said that if a large system is designed for ease of access it becomes insecure; if made watertight it becomes impossible to use. This is sometimes known as Anderson's Rule.[16]

Anderson is the author of Security Engineering, published by Wiley in 2001.[17] He was the founder and editor of Computer and Communications Security Reviews.

After the vast Global surveillance disclosure leaked by Edward Snowden beginning June 2013 Anderson suggested one way to begin stamping out the British state’s unaccountable involvement in this NSA spying scandal is to entirely end the domestic secret services. Anderson: “Were I a legislator, I would simply abolish MI5.” Anderson notes the only way this kind of systemic data collection has been made possible was through the business models of private industry. The value of information-driven web companies such as Facebook and Google is built around their ability to gather vast tracts of data. It was something the intelligence agencies would have struggled with alone.[18]