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Gene Spafford

Eugene Spafford talks about computer security at LinuxForum 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Eugene Howard Spafford (born 1956), commonly known as Spaf,[1] is an American professor of computer science at Purdue University and a leading computer security expert.[2]

A historically significant Internet figure, he is renowned for first analyzing the Morris Worm, one of the earliest computer worms, and his prominent role in the Usenet backbone cabal. Spafford was a member of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee 2003-2005,[3] has been an advisor to the National Science Foundation (NSF), and serves as an advisor to over a dozen other government agencies and major corporations.


  • Biography 1
    • Education and early career 1.1
    • Recent work 1.2
  • Selected honors and awards 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Education and early career

Spafford attended M.S. in 1981, and Ph.D. in 1986 for his design and implementation of the original Clouds distributed operating system kernel.[4]

During the early formative years of the Internet, Spafford made significant contributions to establishing semi-formal processes to organize and manage Usenet, then the primary channel of communication between users, as well as being influential in defining the standards of behavior governing its use.

Recent work

At Purdue, Spafford has a joint appointment as a professor of computer science and as professor of electrical and computer engineering, where he has served on the faculty since 1987. He is also a professor of philosophy (courtesy), and a professor of communication (courtesy). He is also Executive Director of the Purdue CERIAS (Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security) and was the founder and director of COAST Laboratory, which preceded CERIAS.

He is involved in a number of professional societies and activities outside Purdue including serving on the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association and as co-chair of the ACM's US Public Policy Committee. He serves on a number of advisory and editorial boards and is internationally known for his writing, research, and speaking on issues of security and ethics. Spafford has authored or co-authored four books on computer and computer security, including Practical Unix and Internet Security for O'Reilly, as well as over a hundred research papers, chapters and monographs.

Spafford has stated that his research interests have focused on "the prevention, detection, and remediation of information system failures and misuse, with an emphasis on applied information security. This has included research in fault tolerance, software testing and debugging, intrusion detection, software forensics, and security policies."

Among notable software designed and/or supervised by Spafford include the freeware Tripwire tool coded by his student Gene Kim (Spafford was later the chief external technical advisor to the Tripwire company during their first few years), and the freeware COPS tool coded by his student Dan Farmer. He initiated the Phage List as a response to the Morris Worm. Some of his research also helped inspire the creation of the MITRE CVE service and the NIST ICAT database. Research by other graduate students of his has resulted in tools for software testing and debugging, distributed processing, cyber forensics, firewalls, intrusion detection, auditing, and network traceback.

Spafford discussed on C-SPAN in 2009, a then-recent piece in the New York Times that looked at how the Internet had been a conduit for many types of "cybercrime".[5][6]

Selected honors and awards

  • 1992 Inducted in Sigma Xi, research scientists' honor society.[7]
  • 1992 Inducted in Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the Computer Sciences honor society.
  • 1996 Awarded charter membership in the IEEE Computer Society's Golden Core for distinguished service to the Computer Society during its first 50 years.
  • 1996 Award of Distinguished Technical Communication (highest award) and Award of Merit by the Society for Technical Communication for Practical Unix and Internet Security.
  • 1997 Inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
  • 1999 Inducted as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • 2000 NIST/NCSC National Computer Systems Security Award.
  • 2000 Proclaimed a CISSP, honoris causa by (ISC)²
  • 2000 Inducted as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
  • 2001 Named to the ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) Hall of Fame.
  • 2003 Awarded U.S. Air Force medal for Meritorious Civilian Service.
  • 2005 Honorary D.Sc. from the State University of New York (SUNY)
  • 2006 IEEE Computer Society Technical Achievement Award
  • 2007 ACM President's Award
  • 2009 Computing Research Association Distinguished Service Award
  • 2013 Elected to the Cybersecurity Hall of Fame

See also


  1. ^ Gene Spafford's home page at Purdue
  2. ^ "Spafford Receives ACM President's Award". Spafford Receives ACM President's Award. Purdue University. 2007. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  3. ^ "President's Information Technology Advisory Committee - Archive". Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  4. ^ Gene Spafford oral history interview, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota.
  5. ^ "The Internet and Cyber-Security". Purdue University:  
  6. ^ John Markoff (2009-02-14). "Do We Need a New Internet?". NY Times. 
  7. ^ Gene Spafford (2011-09-25). "Abridged Vita: Eugene H. Spafford" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-03. 

External links

  • Gene Spafford at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  • Gene Spafford's home page at Purdue
  • Greplaw interview
  • Eugene H. Spafford, Oral history interview, 12 November 2013. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota.
  • PKI Forum interview (introduction) (very long)
    • Part 1: Gene Spafford on security threats, PKI, interoperability, privacy, wireless security and key management
    • Part 2: Gene Spafford on key escrow, backup and recovery, security education, digital certificate revocation, identity fraud, security trends and predictions
  • CERIAS website
  • Spafford's analysis of the Morris worm
  • Practical Unix and Internet Security
  • The Phage List"
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