Eric Zeng

About Me

Hello! I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University CyLab, where I am advised by Professor Lujo Bauer. I graduated with a PhD in Computer Science & Engineering from the University of Washington, where I was fortunate to be advised by Professor Franzi Roesner, and I was part of the Security and Privacy Lab.

Very broadly, my research interests are in addressing everyday threats to end users' security, privacy, and user experience. Part of my research falls under usable security and privacy, where I am interested in addressing socio-technical security and privacy challenges in emerging technologies, such as interpersonal privacy in smart homes. My other research is at the intersection of measurement and usable security and privacy, where conduct in large scale studies to investigate how users are harmed by deceptive advertising, dark patterns, and targeted advertising.

Currently, I am interested in a broad set of directions, including:

  • Investigating material harms and privacy harms of online advertising for vulnerable groups
  • Building tools to help users understand dark patterns and deceptive advertising
  • Explainable alerts for security issues in complex IoT systems (e.g. smart homes, industrial control systems)


2023-01-25 I am presenting my research on bad ads at Enigma 2023! The talk will be available online sometime in February.
2022-09-27 Our newest paper, a field study of the factors that affect ad targeting and bid values, was accepted to IMC 2022! I will be presenting our paper at IMC in Nice, and later at FTC PrivacyCon.
2022-06-13 I have finally graduated with my PhD! I have already started my new position as a postdoc at CMU's CyLab, where I'll be working with Prof. Lujo Bauer.
2022-05-16 Our new paper on Anti-Privacy and Anti-Security Advice on TikTok was just accepted to SOUPS! I will be at both SOUPS and USENIX this year.
2022-05-12 I successfully defended my dissertation! I will be graduating mid-June 2022.
2021-11-02 Our political ads paper was a runner up for Best Paper at IMC 2021!
2021-09-30 We published a new paper measuring political ads during the 2020 U.S. elections at IMC 2021
2021-01-20 Our paper on user perceptions of "bad" ads was accepted to CHI 2021, read the preprint here
2020-08-10 Attending/volunteering at USENIX and SOUPS - let's chat!
2020-05-11 I submitted my thesis proposal and passed my generals exam!
2020-02-20 Our paper on clickbait ads was accepted at ConPro 2020