Andrew G. West

Andrew G. West a Senior Research Scientist at Verisign Labs of Verisign, Inc. in the greater Washington D.C. area. In Spring 2013 I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in the Dept. of Computer and Information Science in Philadelpia, PA. I received my M.S.E. from Penn in 2010 and did my undergraduate study at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA where I received my B.Sc. in Computer Science in 2007.

My work at Verisign Labs has emphasized: (1) Understanding and incentivizing domain name registration trends, (2) analyzing the role of network endpoints in malware and privacy disclosures, and (3) applying big data techniques to Internet-scale quantification problems. Moving forward, I will further leverage Verisign's network and security data utilizing my expertise/interest in reputation management, applied machine learning, metadata analysis, email/Web 2.0 abuse, underground economies, behavioral profiling, and Internet virality. This skill set is demonstrated across 35+ peer-review publications and a research philosophy that strives to synthesize academic results into actionable business decisions.

Prior to Verisign, my dissertation research investigated security in "open collaboration" applications. I examined how user-generated content and collaborative semantics change how spam and other abuses manifest and can be detected. This yielded tools still in popular use, notably STiki, a tool that has been used to remove 700,000+ damaging revisions from Wikipedia. Popular media outlets such as the Chronicle of Higher Education and Gizmodo have recognized my contributions, and I remain an active volunteer in the Wikipedia community.

Distinct from my research, I also manage the selective Verisign Labs Summer Internship Program. This includes the annual recruitment, interviewing, on-boarding, and oversight of a dozen graduate interns who work closely with Verisign Lab's research scientists.


In the interest of brevity, this list contains only recent and prominent writings. My C.V. enumerates all writings, for which full texts are available on my SelectedWorks profile. All downloadable texts are author's versions, with the authoritative copy belonging to the cited venue/journal:

Heilman, J.M., and West, A.G (2015). Wikipedia and Medicine: Quantifying Readership, Editors, and the Significance of Natural Language. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(3). [ABSTRACT + AUTHOR'S PDF | JOURNAL HTML]

West, A.G., and Mohaisen, A. (2014). Metadata-driven Threat Classification of Network Endpoints Appearing in Malware. In DIMVA '14: Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Detection of Intrusions and Malware & Vulnerability Assessment, LNCS 8550 (S. Dietrich ed.), pp. 152-171. Egham, UK. [ABSTRACT + PDF | SLIDES]

West, A.G., and Aviv, A.J. (2014). On the Privacy Concerns of URL Query Strings. In W2SP '14: Proceedings of the 8th Workshop on Web 2.0 Security and Privacy. San Jose, CA, USA. A journal extension: Measuring Privacy Disclosures in URL Query Strings appears in IEEE Internet Computing, 18(6): pp.52-59. [CONF. PDF | CONF. SLIDES | JOURNAL PRE-PRINT]

West, A.G. (2013). Damage Detection and Mitigation in Open Collaboration Applications. PhD thesis, University of Pennsylvania. [ABSTRACT + PDF | SLIDES]

West, A.G., Hayati, P., Potdar, V., and Lee, I. (2012). Spamming for Science: Active Measurement in Web 2.0 Abuse Research. In WECSR '12: Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Ethics in Computer Security Research, LNCS 7398 (J. Blythe, S. Dietrich, and L.J. Camp eds.), pp. 98-111. Kralendijk, Bonaire. [ABSTRACT + PDF | SLIDES]

West, A.G., and Lee, I. (2011). What Wikipedia Deletes: Characterizing Dangerous Collaborative Content. In WikiSym '11: Proc. of the 7th Intl. Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration, pp. 25-28. Mountain View, CA, USA. [ABSTRACT + PDF | SLIDES]

West, A.G., Chang, J., Venkatasubramanian, K., Sokolsky, O., and Lee, I. (2011). Link Spamming Wikipedia for Profit. In CEAS '11: Proc. of the 8th Annual Collaboration, Electronic Messaging, Anti-Abuse, and Spam Conference, pp. 152-161. Perth, Australia. (co-Best Paper Award). [ABSTRACT + PDF | SLIDES]

Adler, B.T., de Alfaro, L., Mola-Velasco, S.M., Rosso, P., and West, A.G. (2011). Wikipedia Vandalism Detection: Combining Natural Language,Metadata, and Reputation Features. In CICLing '11: Proc. of the 12th Intl. Conference on Intelligent Text Processing and Computational Linguistics. LNCS 6609, pp. 277-288. Tokyo, Japan. [ABSTRACT + PDF]

West, A.G., Aviv, A.J., Chang, J., & Lee, I. (2010). Spam Mitigation using Spatio-Temporal Reputations from Blacklist History. In ACSAC '10: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, pp. 161-170. Austin, Texas, USA. (Preliminarily published as UPENN-MS-CIS-10-04). [ABSTRACT + PDF | SLIDES]

West, A.G., Kannan, S., & Lee, I. (2010). Detecting Wikipedia Vandalism via Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Revision Metadata. In EUROSEC '10: Proceedings of the Third European Workshop on System Security, pp. 22-28. Paris, France. (A preliminary version was published as UPENN-MS-CIS-10-05). [ABSTRACT + PDF | SLIDES]

Software & Datasets

STiki (Spatio-Temporal analysis over Wikipedia): A Wikipedia anti-vandalism tool consisting of a back-end engine for real-time revision processing and a user-facing GUI which presents probable-vandalism to users. An extension to this software includes the code/analysis necessary to detect link spam edits. Software. [WEBSITE]

WikiAudit: Heuristics to detect unconstructive wiki changes from a provided set of IPs; useful for network admins and investigations into editor bias. Software. [WEBSITE]

Reputation Management Simulator: A framework to evaluate reputation algorithm performance. Software. Last updated: 2009/10/25. [ZIP | DIAGRAM-PNG]

Personal Details

On a purely personal level, I have three fanatical interests in life:

[1] West Virginia University Athletics: I was born and raised in WV.
[2] Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Thirty years on and still rockin' hard.
[3] Maxwell [1, 2, 3]: Best friend and extremely intimidating 7-pound chihuahua.

Contact Information

Andrew G. West
Verisign Headquarters, 6272
12061 Bluemont Way
Reston, VA 20190

email: awest {at, @} verisign [dot] com (business)
email: west [dot] andrew [dot] g {at, @} gmail [dot] com (personal)