First, thank you for considering to work with me. I am always honored when I
receive requests from prospective students who are thinking about working with
me! However, before you contact me, you should read this:

I receive a lot of emails from prospective PhD candidates who tell me that they
are very interested in working with me. To date, I have always tried to answer
every email that I receive. I understand how challenging it can be to find the
right advisor, and the right school. Doing a PhD is a serious commitment.
Unfortunately, I am no longer able to answer all emails from prospective
candidates that are sent to me. I just cannot keep up with the requests anymore
-- and I need the time to advise the students I already have, and to make sure
that they succeed.  If you want an answer from me, follow the instructions I
have defined here.

I work in systems security. If you are interested in data mining, networking,
or any other computer discipline, I am not the right person for you. I am not
interested, or active in these areas. Although we do use all sorts of different
CS techniques (e.g., machine learning) in our work, we are interested in
solving security problems, and not interested in advancing the field in these
areas. Also, note that I am not interested in crypto. Crypto is an area that I
appreciate, but I am not smart enough to understand the problems and research
issues there ;)

Intrusion Detection in the general sense is not interesting for me any more
(scientifically). The attacks are more sophisticated and specific, so if you
are interested in general IDS research, you might want to work with someone
else. What we do is related to IDS, but we attack more specific problems to
have more effective solutions (e.g., botnet detection, spyware detection, etc).

If you want to do a Ph.D. in systems security, you need to have a good systems
background. Languages such as C, C++ should not be an issue for you. You should
be able to develop web applications, you should be a proficient user of Linux /
UNIX systems, and should be passionate about coding. Programming should not be
a challenge for you, it should be a normal part of your life. Of course, if you
don't enjoy coding, or if it is a big hurdle for you, then you are not a good
fit for us...

When you apply, it is important for you to say why you want to do a Ph.D. and
why you think you are qualified. Research is tough business, and you need to
explain why you want to do it. You need to be self-motivated to do research.
When you contact me, if I don't know anyone that you know (e.g., a former
colleague, you've spent time in one of our sister labs, etc.), as the subject
line, choose "Prospective student: Have read your instructions".  Also, in your
email, tell me which three academic papers are your favorite, and explain to me
in a paragraph why. These papers should not be my papers (i.e., I don't need to
hear why you think my papers are great :)).

If you are wondering if you have the "minimal" technical skills to work in
systems security, feel free to drop me an e-mail. I can give you access to a
remote server, documentation, and some instructions, and you can see if you
have the technical and intellectual skills... ;) We don't expect you to know
everything, but we expect you to be able to read and learn. In your email to
me, please include your ssh public key so that I can give you remote access to
the server. If you don't know what an ssh key is, I don't think you're a good
fit, so another group would be better for you.

Best regards,