William Robertson

Assistant Professor: Interdisciplinary with College of Engineering

Current Research Projects

  • Plasticity: Breaking the Vicious Crash-Recover Cycle for Brittle Firmware
    Co-Principal Investigator
    ONR – Cyber Security and Complex Software Systems Program
  • Continuum: Finding Space and Time Vulnerabilities in Java Programs
    Principal Investigator
    DARPA – Space/Time Analysis for Cybersecurity (STAC)
  • Automated Reverse Engineering of Commodity Software
    Co-Principal Investigator
    NSF – Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC)
  • Firmalice: Modeling and Identifying Malice in Firmware
    Co-Principal Investigator
    DARPA – Vetting Commodity IT Software and Firmware (VET)
  • Automated Inference of High-Level Program Structure
    Principal Investigator
    ONR – Cyber Security and Complex Software Systems Program
  • DarkDroid: Exposing the Dark Side of Android Marketplaces
    Co-Principal Investigator
    DARPA – Automated Program Analysis for Cybersecurity (APAC)
  • Multi-Disciplinary Preparation of Next Generation Information Assurance Practitioners
    Co-Principal Investigator
    NSF – Scholarship for Service (SFS)

Research Interests

  • Systems Security
  • Web Secrurity
  • Mobile Security


  • BS in Computer Science | University of California, Santa Barbara
  • PhD in Computer Science | University of California, Santa Barbara

Google Scholar Page


William Robertson is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and co-directs the NEU Systems Security Lab. Dr. Robertson’s research revolves around improving the security of operating systems, mobile devices, and the web, making use of techniques such as security by design, program analysis, and anomaly detection. Before joining Northeastern in 2011, he was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley (2009-2011). He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Santa Barbara in 2009.

He was involved in both the California Top-to-Bottom-Review (TTBR) and the Ohio EVEREST projects as a Red Team member. In this capacity, he demonstrated that electronic voting systems were susceptible to large-scale attacks that could exploit numerous vulnerabilities in the firmware and physical security of the components of the voting system, leading to significant changes in public policy in both states with respect to electronic voting.

Dr. Robertson also has extensive experience in organizing and participating in Capture-the-Flag (CTF) exercises. With Shellphish, a team composed of UCSB-affiliated members, he won the 2005 edition of the DEFCON CTF competition. He was also instrumental in helping to organize the UCSB iCTF, the largest distributed CTF competition, from its inception in 2003 to 2008.

Dr. Robertson is the program co-chair of the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) for 2015-1016, was the co-chair of the 2013 USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies (WOOT), co-located with USENIX Security, and was the chair of the 2012 Conference on the Detection of Intrusions and Malware & Vulnerability Assessment (DIMVA). He has participated on the program committees of a number of top-tier systems security venues, including IEEE Security and Privacy, USENIX Security, NDSS, ACSAC, and RAID. He is also the author of more than thirty peer-reviewed journal and conference papers in the area of systems and network security.

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