Michael Farrell, Ph.D., is co-executive director of the Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP) at Georgia Tech and guides cyber attribution research efforts. In this role, he leads collaborative faculty and student teams from across a wide swath of the Georgia Tech community, including the Scheller College of Business, School of Public Policy, School of Computer Science, and School of Electrical & Computer Engineering. These unclassified research programs go beyond emerging technologies to assess societal and geopolitical impact as well as the effect of cybersecurity trends on organizational strategy. His current research focus is to create a science of attribution and trace-back for malicious cyber activity, specifically applying machine learning (ML) to information risk and network security.
In addition to his leadership position at the IISP, Farrell is chief strategist of the Cybersecurity, Information Protection, Hardware Evaluation and Research Laboratory (CIPHER) at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). He leads applied research and development (R&D) programs that span four main areas of security: reverse engineering, vulnerability identification, and exploitation; resilient network systems engineering; malicious software analysis, threat intelligence and penetration testing; and multi-level, secure software systems and collaboration tools. Farrell also has managed a portfolio of high-risk cybersecurity investments via the organization’s independent R&D program.
Earlier in his career, Farrell served in a number of technical operations and S&T positions within the U.S. Department of Defense. He has earned numerous government awards, including the Meritorious Unit Citation presented by the director of national intelligence for extraordinary teamwork in intelligence operations and a Special Achievement Award for outstanding individual research presented by the director of the National Security Agency (NSA). Outside of his government service, Farrell was director of engineering for a cybersecurity startup after beginning his career at Intel Corp.
Farrell sits on several advisory boards, including the Intelligence Science & Technology Experts Group (ISTEG) for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in addition to advising several tech companies. Farrell also serves on the Information Science & Technology (ISAT) study group for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), helping to guide forward-looking investigations in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI), synthetic biology, autonomy, and security. He is an adjunct professor in the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech as well as in the Department of Information & Computer Science at the University of Hawai’i. Farrell is a senior member of the IEEE, Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE Honor Society), Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity, and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Throughout his career, he has published research findings in peer-reviewed technical journals on the topics of software engineering, network security, data modeling, and sensor exploitation. He holds both a Master's and a Doctoral degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech.
In April 2017, Farrell was named a GTRI Fellow. This is the highest technical honor given for applied research at Georgia Tech.