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Ross J. Anderson

Ross Anderson
Ross Anderson in 2008
Born Ross John Anderson
(1956-09-15) 15 September 1956 [1]
Residence near Sandy, Bedfordshire United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge (BA, MA, PhD)
Thesis Robust Computer Security (1995)
Doctoral advisor Roger Needham[4]
Doctoral students
Known for
  • Banking security
  • Security economics
  • Information policy
  • Serpent (cipher)
  • University of Cambridge politics
  • Security Engineering book[5]
Notable awards

Ross John Anderson, FRS, FREng[8] (born 15 September 1956)[1] is a researcher, writer, and industry consultant in security engineering.[5] He is Cambridge University's Head of Cryptography and Professor in security engineering at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge[9] where he is part of the Security Group.[10][11][12]


  • Education 1
  • Research 2
  • Awards and honours 3
  • References 4


Anderson was educated at the High School of Glasgow.[1] In 1978, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and natural science from Trinity College, Cambridge, and subsequently received a qualification in computer engineering. Anderson 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[13] and start his career as an academic researcher.[3] He received his PhD in 1995, and became a lecturer in the same year.[1]


Anderson's research interests[4][10][11][14][2][15][16] are in Security, Cryptology, Dependability and Technology policy.[2] In cryptography, he designed with Eli Biham the BEAR, LION and Tiger cryptographic primitives, and co-wrote with Biham and Lars Knudsen the block cipher Serpent, one of the finalists in the Advanced Encryption Standard (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.[17]

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″[18] and has been an elected member of Cambridge University Council since 2002.[19] In January 2004, the student newspaper Varsity declared Anderson to be Cambridge University's "most powerful person".[20]

In 2002, he became an outspoken critic of trusted computing proposals, in particular Microsoft's Palladium operating system vision.[21]

Anderson's TCPA FAQ has been characterised by IBM TC researcher David R. Safford as "full of technical errors" and of "presenting speculation as fact."[22]

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.[23]

Anderson is the author of Security Engineering, published by Wiley in 2001.[5] He was the founder and editor of Computer and Communications Security Reviews.

After the vast Global surveillance disclosure leaked by Edward Snowden beginning in 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.[24]

Awards and honours

Anderson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2009. His nomination reads:

Anderson was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng)[25] in 2009.[1][3][26]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "ANDERSON, Prof. Ross John". Who's Who 2014.   (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c List of publications from Google Scholar
  3. ^ a b c Curriculum Vitae – Ross Anderson, May 2007
  4. ^ a b c Ross J. Anderson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ a b c Anderson, Ross (2008). Security engineering: a guide to building dependable distributed systems. New York: John Wiley.  
  6. ^ a b "EC/2009/02: Anderson, Ross". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "List of Fellows". 
  8. ^ "List of Fellows". 
  9. ^ The Blue Book – "The Computer Laboratory: an Introduction”, University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, August 2007
  10. ^ a b Ross J. Anderson from the Scopus bibliographic database.
  11. ^ a b Ross J. Anderson from the ACM Portal
  12. ^ Anderson, R. J. (1999). "Information technology in medical practice: Safety and privacy lessons from the United Kingdom". The Medical journal of Australia 170 (4): 181–4.  
  13. ^ Anderson, Ross John (2014). Robust Computer Security (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  14. ^ List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
  15. ^ List of publications from the DBLP Bibliography Server
  16. ^ Petitcolas, F. A. P.; Anderson, R. J.; Kuhn, M. G. (1999). "Information hiding-a survey". Proceedings of the IEEE 87 (7): 1062.  
  17. ^ Ross Anderson: Why information security is hard – an economic perspective, ACSAC 2001.
  18. ^ Campaign for Cambridge Freedoms
  19. ^ Election to the Council: Notices 2 December 2002 and 7 November 2006, Cambridge University Reporter
  20. ^ Cambridge Power 100, Varsity, Issue 591, 16 January 2004
  21. ^ Ross Anderson: ‘Trusted Computing’ Frequently Asked Questions, August 2003
  22. ^$FILE/tcpa_rebuttal.pdf
  23. ^ Guardian newspaper article on a security breach, in which Anderson's Rule is formulated
  24. ^ Cambridge's Head of Cryptography: I Would Abolish MI5, Forbes, 3 January 2013
  25. ^ "List of Fellows". 
  26. ^ Technology Visionaries: Professor Ross Anderson FRS FREng – Royal Academy of Engineering on YouTube, Royal Academy of Engineering
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