The University of Texas at Dallas

Endowed Chairs and Professorships

Dr. Kevin Hamlen

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science

The McDermott Professorships were established in August 2017, funded by an anonymous gift, with the goal of providing early career support and recognition to faculty members who have established extraordinary records of research productivity, teaching excellence, and university service, and who show promise of being leaders of the UT Dallas faculty in the future.


Hamlen’s research at UT Dallas — dubbed Red Herring — created a technique to track online intruders by fixing security vulnerabilities and constructing a dummy server. The fake server makes hackers believe they have gained access to confidential, secure information when in fact their deeds are being monitored, analyzed and traced back to the source.


I want to show students how scientific, mathematical and formal reasoning can help us protect the world from dangerous cyberthreats.

Professor of Computer Science
Eugene McDermott Professor

Dr. Kevin Hamlen doesn’t want to just stop computer hackers. He likes to turn the tables on them. Maybe even teach them a lesson.

In 2014, one of the most serious problems to affect the modern web left about two-thirds of the internet at the mercy of “Heartbleed,” a vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library. Cybercriminals were able to steal sensitive information normally protected by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the internet.

Hamlen’s research at UT Dallas — dubbed Red Herring — created a technique to track online intruders by fixing security vulnerabilities and constructing a dummy server. The fake server makes hackers believe they have gained access to confidential, secure information when in fact their deeds are being monitored, analyzed and traced back to the source.

Hamlen is also technical advisor for UT Dallas’ Cyber Security Research and Education Institute.

In 2012, he discovered a fundamental mathematical flaw in the way nearly all antivirus products work. He created “Frankenstein,” which defeated nearly every antivirus product in the world.

Hamlen’s research focuses on the fields of language-based security, which leverages techniques from programming language theory and compilers to enforce software security. Topics of interest include in-line reference monitors, type-safe intermediate languages, software abstract interpretation, model-checking, proof-carrying code and certifying compliers. He also has ongoing projects related to malware defense.

He frequently tries to integrate current research into his course curricula in an effort to introduce students to cutting-edge, state-of-the-art advances in the field. In 2013, he won the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science Outstanding Teacher Award.

“My teaching style has a reputation among UTD students for combining high challenge with high interest and value,” he said.

Known for his formal, mathematical approaches to his teaching of program analysis, computer security and computer science, Hamlen hopes to arm the next generation of computer scientists with the skills necessary to design and assess mission-critical software systems, and cultivate a science of computer security that offers rigorous, mathematically provable guarantees to users.

Hamlen received his master’s degree and PhD in computer science from Cornell University and bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.