Alex Stamos

Biography: 

Alex Stamos was a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. Stamos is a cybersecurity expert, business leader, and entrepreneur working to improve the security and safety of the Internet through his teaching and research at Stanford University. He is an adjunct professor at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute, and a William J. Perry Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Prior to joining Stanford, Stamos served as the chief security officer of Facebook. In this role, he was charged with understanding and mitigating information security risks to the company and safety risks to the 2.5 billion people on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. He led the company’s investigation into manipulation of the 2016 US election and helped pioneer several successful protections against these new classes of abuse.

Before joining Facebook, he was the chief information security officer at Yahoo, rebuilding a storied security team while dealing with multiple assaults by nation-state actors. While at Yahoo, he led the response to the 2013 Edward Snowden disclosures and represented the company in a hearing of the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

In 2004, he cofounded iSEC Partners, an elite security consultancy. As a trusted partner to the world’s largest technology firms, he coordinated the response to the “Aurora” attacks by China's People’s Liberation Army at multiple Silicon Valley firms and led groundbreaking work securing the world’s largest desktop and mobile platforms. During this time, he also served as an expert witness in several notable civil and criminal cases, such as the Google Street View case, and performed pro bono work for the defendants in the Sony vs. George Hotz case and United States vs. Aaron Swartz.

A noted speaker and writer, he has appeared at the Munich Security Conference, NATO CyCon, Web Summit, DEF CON, CanSecWest, and Black Hat and has highlighted the work of diverse technologists as an organizer of the Trustworthy Technology Conference and OURSA.

Stamos has been involved with securing the US election system as a contributor to Harvard’s Defending Digital Democracy Project. He is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Cyber Security Task Force, the Bay Area CSO Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the advisory board to NATO’s Collective Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia.

Stamos earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California-Berkeley. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife and three children.

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Recent Commentary

FeaturedPolitics

Here’s How Russia Will Attack The 2020 Election. We’re Still Not Ready.

by Renee DiResta, Michael McFaul, Alex Stamosvia The Washington Post
Friday, November 15, 2019

In 1983, an anonymous letter from an author claiming to be an American scientist appeared in an Indian newspaper, asserting that the HIV virus raging across the world was a bioweapon released by the United States. Over the next several years, similar claims appeared in leftist and alternative newspapers around the world and ended up becoming widely believed among those predisposed to distrust the Reagan administration. As late as 2005, a study showed that 27 percent of African Americans still believed that HIV was created in a government lab.

Interviews

Silicon Valley Q&A: Ex-Facebook Exec Alex Stamos Warns Of 2020 Election Security Threats

interview with Alex Stamosvia CBS San Francisco
Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Alex Stamos talks about the 2020 election security threats.

Interviews

Alex Stamos Discusses Stanford Internet Observatory's New Research

interview with Alex Stamosvia Steptoe
Friday, October 11, 2019
Hoover Institution fellow Alex Stamos discusses Stanford Internet Observatory's new research, "Taiwan: Presidential Election 2020 Scene Setter."
Interviews

Michael McFaul And Alex Stamos: Should We Be Worried About Election Interference In 2020? Probably, Says Facebook’s Former Chief Security Officer

interview with Michael McFaul, Alex Stamosvia World Class
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows Michael McFaul and Alex Stamos discuss the security of the 2020 elections. Stamos says he is “extremely worried” that the upcoming US presidential election will see some kind of interference from foreign adversaries.

Analysis and Commentary

An Op-Ed From The Future On Election Security

by Alex Stamosvia Lawfare
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Jan. 1, 2021. New Year’s Day is traditionally spent recovering from the previous night’s revelry. This year, the United States awakens to the greatest New Year’s hangover in the country’s almost 245-year history: a crisis of constitutional legitimacy as all three branches of government continue to battle over who will take the presidential oath of office later this month.

In the News

Facebook's Ex-Security Chief Details His 'Observatory' For Internet Abuse

featuring Alex Stamosvia Wired
Thursday, July 25, 2019
When Alex Stamos describes the challenge of studying the worst problems of mass-scale bad behavior on the internet, he compares it to astronomy.
Interviews

Alex Stamos: Former Facebook Chief Security Officer On Election Security And Digital Threats

interview with Alex Stamosvia NPR
Thursday, July 25, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Alex Stamos talks about efforts to shore up election security.

Interviews

Talking Election Security In The Nation’s Capital

interview with Alex Stamosvia Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Monday, June 24, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Alex Stamos discusses securing US elections.

Interviews

Alex Stamos On Securing American Elections

interview with Alex Stamosvia Lawfare
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Alex Stamos discusses what happened in 2016, and the enormously complex landscape of defending not just election infrastructure but also preserving the integrity of the information ecosystems in which Americans make their decisions about how to vote, including the possible consequences of regulating foreign media.

Interviews

Cyber Threats To Campaigns And Elections

interview with Alex Stamosvia Bipartisan Policy Center
Monday, June 10, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Alex Stamos discusses the possible cyber threats to our elections.

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