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Roya Ensafi

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Computer Science Department
Princeton University

Research Fellow
Center for Information Technology and Policy (CITP)

Twitter: @_RoyaEn_
My main research interests lie in computer networking and network measurement. The primary goal of my current research is to better understand and bring transparency to network interference caused by middleboxes. I`m interested in how middleboxes block, monitor, or tamper with network traffic. To this end, I have worked on several networking-related research projects in the following areas:
  1. Characterizing and Avoiding Routing Detours Through Surveillance States. In collaborative efforts, we are investigating how the use of overlay network relays and the DNS open resolver infrastructure can prevent traffic from traversing certain jurisdictions. For more take a look at our arXiv paper.
  2. Studying national firewalls, especially the Great Firewall of China. In collaborative efforts, we detected and documented the Great Cannon that shows China’s capabilities for active man-in-the-middle attacks. More recently, we investigated how the GFW’s active probing system is designed, which is used to discover and block hidden circumvention proxies.
  3. Capturing a global view on Internet censorship, with Censored Planet, an ongoing project and a platform to measure both IP and DNS censorship, without controlling any vantage points. Censored Planet allows us to regularly collect “censorship snapshots” of 143 countries—a scale that has never been achieved before.
  4. Developing effective side channels (a.k.a. idle scans) for measuring how information flows between two remote hosts around the world, without requiring any kind of distributed measurement platform or access to any of the machines that connectivity is tested to or from.
  5. Developing games to teach cybersecurity concepts. Specifically, we developed and utilized an online version of the game Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow (a variant of Mafia). To avoid being eaten, students must exploit inference channels on a Linux system to discover “werewolves” among a population of “townspeople.” This game has been adapted by other teachers.
Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher working closely with Nick Feamster, Vern Paxson, and Nicholas Weaver. I am also closely collaborating with The Tor Project’s developers to provide answers to their questions. In 2014, I finished my PhD at the University of New Mexico under the supervision of Jed Crandall.


  • I got accepted into the 2016 Rising Stars Workshop at CMU! https://risingstars.ece.cmu.edu/
  • Aug 2016: finished reviews for CoNext’16 and IMC’2016.
  • May 2016: I gave a talk at Berkman Center, Harvard University.
  • April 2016: I finished a lecture on privacy & survillance at Networking class & Netseminar talk about GFW at Stanford University.
  • Our team was among winners in CAIDA BGP Hackathon 2016.
  • I won Applied Networking Research Prize, IRTF 2016.
  • I will serve as a PC member for IMC'16, PETS’16, PAM’16, and CoNEXT’16.
  • We are organizing a Conference on Internet Censorship, Interference, and Control at CITP.
  • Aug 2015: I served as a panelist for FOCI’15.
  • Jul 2015: My application for the NSF NeTS Early Career Workshop got accepted.
  • Jun 2015: Presented our PETS’15 paper in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Apr 2015: Collaborated on “China’s Great Cannon”, a Citizen Lab report


  • Applied Networking Research Prize, Internet Research Task Force, 2016
  • Granted an NSF NeTS Early Career Workshop award, 2015
  • Passed with Distinction Award for PhD dissertation, CS, UNM, December 2014
  • Excellence in Graduate Research, Sigma Xi, UNM, 2014
  • Graduate Student Mentor Award, UNM, 2011–2012
  • Graduate Student Highlight, CS, UNM, January 2011
  • MEP Fellowship, School of Engineering Scholarship, UNM, Fall 2009