Roya Ensafi

Associate Professor, Computer Science & Engineering , University of Michigan

OTF Advisory Council
Founder and Faculty Advisor of WISER
Dissonance Organizing Committee

Email:  ensafi [@]
Twitter:  @royaensafi
BioCVGoogle ScholarMore about me!

Recent Awards:
Sloan Research Fellowship
IRTF Applied Networking Research Prize (2016,2023)
USENIX Security Internet Defense Prize (2022)
Consumer Report Digital Lab Fellow (2021)
Google Faculty Research Award (2018)
NSF CNS Research Initiation Initiative (2018)

My research broadly lies at the intersection of networking, security and privacy, and Internet measurement. I build scalable techniques and systems to protect users’ Internet experiences from disruption, surveillance, and digital inequity. My work takes a data-driven approach to detecting and defending against powerful network intermediaries, government threat actors, and technologies and practices that impact users’ freedom of expression online.

Members of my lab

Reethika Ramesh, Ram Sundara Raman, Diwen Xue, Anna Ablove, Aaron Ortwein, Wayne Wang, Kyle Astroth, Ye Shu(Summer Intern), Kevin Wang, Armin Huremagic.

Alumni include: Renuka Kumar (Software Engineer IV at Cisco),Muhammad Ikram (→ Lecturer, Macquarie University), Gavin Li(→ Graduate Student, Standford),Apurva Virkud (→ PhD Student, UIUC), Anjali Vyas (→ Masters Student, Cornell Tech), Nick Ceccio (→ PhD Student, Wisconsin - Madison), Victor Ongkowijaya (→ PhD Student, Princeton), Adrian Stoll (→ Software Engineer, Google), Prerana Shenoy (→ Product Security Engineer, Atlassian), Leonid Evdokimov, Elio Qoshi (→ Ura Design),Elisa Tsai, Yael Eiger, Arham Jain (→ Software Engineer, Google).

I have multiple openings for PhD students and a postdoctoral fellow. Join me to protect users' Internet experiences from censorship, surveillance, and digital inequity!

Flagship Projects

Censored Planet: Censored Planet is a platform that provides continuous, global data about Internet censorship practices in countries around the world. It builds on my long line of work developing remote censorship measurement techniques. My group operates several of these systems, curates the data, and publishes continuous datasets about the reachability of thousands of sensitive websites from more than 221 countries. In partnership with Google Jigsaw, we recently launched a cloud-based data analysis pipeline and a visualization dashboard, facilitating use of our data by more than 100 organizations spanning research and human rights advocacy. Some of our high profile rapid response investigations include Kazakhstan HTTPS interception and Russia’s throttling of Twitter. Read more about this project at

VPNalyzer: VPNalyzer aims to analyze the commercial VPN ecosystem through three parallel efforts: a cross-platform user- facing tool that facilitates rigorous, efficient, and continuous checks of VPNs’ security and privacy; large-scale user studies to understand the needs of VPN users; and qualitative studies surveying VPN providers to understand their technical and operational challenges and to uncover dark patterns in their operations, pricing, and marketing. VPNalyzer was awarded the Consumer Reports Digital Lab fellowship, read more about this project at

Splintering Net: The Internet is becoming increasingly regionalized due to sanctions, financial regulations, copyright and licensing rights, perceived abuse, or a perceived lack of customers. We conduct measurement studies to understand how these issues affect user’s experience from different geolocation (geo-equity). Read more about this project at

These are just my lab flagship projects. Please refer to my publication page or contact me for more information about my lab projects.

Research in the news   ⇒ All Press

Selected Publications   ⇒ All Publications

EECS 588 Computer and Network Security

University of Michigan [Winter 2022]

Course Description: Intensive research seminar covers foundations, research literature, and current topics in computer systems security. This course prepares graduate students for security-related research, and helps them gain hands-on experience designing and evaluating secure systems.

Prerequisites: EECS 482 Operating Systems, EECS 489 Computer Networks, EECS 388 Introduction to Security, or grad standing.

Updates   ⇒ All Updates

  • October 2022: I served as Publicity Chair for IMC'22.
  • September 2022: I served as Chair for EGS'22.
  • August 2022: Our paper, A Large-scale Investigation into Geodifferences in Mobile Apps, appeared in USENIX Security Symposium.
  • August 2022: I am the program co-chair for FOCI'22.
  • August 2022 I served on the PC for Sec'22.
  • June 2022: I served as Co-Technical-Chair for TMA'22.
  • May 2022: I was a finalist for the ACUM Outstanding Advisor Award.
  • April 2022: I was a panelist on The Feeling of Being Watched, sponsored by Dissonance, ITS, and Wallace House.
  • February 2022: I was invited to talk at Brave about The Story of Censored Planet
  • January 2022: I was an invited Panelist and consultant for White House officials on existing projects for The Alliance for the Future of the Internet.
  • December 2021: Invited by the President of the United States, I participated on Democracy–Affirming Technology panel at The Summit for Democracy..
  • November 2021: We uploaded a recorded version of our Censored Planet Webinar.

Talks   ⇒ Additional Talks

Sloan-Supported Digital Lab
Fellow Talk on VPNalzyer (2022)

Summit for Democracy (2021)