Influential Security Papers

This webpage is an attempt to assemble a ranking of top-cited papers from the area of computer security. The ranking is automatically created based on citations of papers published at top security conferences. In particular, the ranking is based on the four tier-1 conferences (see the System Security Circus)

and the following tier-2 conferences

The citations for each paper are determined by crawling the DBLP service and Google Scholar. As both services limit crawling activity, the update interval for the ranking is large, such that citation counts change on average every two months.

☞ Interested in cryptography? A similar ranking of cryptography papers is available here.

Top of the Notch

Top-cited papers from 1981 to 2019 ⌄

  1. 1
    Mihir Bellare and Phillip Rogaway:
    Random Oracles are Practical: A Paradigm for Designing Efficient Protocols.
    ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), 1993
    5249 cites at Google Scholar
    3891% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI
  2. 2
    Dorothy E. Denning:
    An Intrusion-Detection Model.
    IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 1986
    5224 cites at Google Scholar
    1587% above average of year
    Last visited: May-2020
    Paper: DOI
  3. 3
    Vipul Goyal, Omkant Pandey, Amit Sahai, and Brent Waters:
    Attribute-based encryption for fine-grained access control of encrypted data.
    ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), 2006
    5092 cites at Google Scholar
    2833% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI
  4. 4
    Laurent Eschenauer and Virgil D. Gligor:
    A key-management scheme for distributed sensor networks.
    ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), 2002
    5014 cites at Google Scholar
    1976% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI
  5. 5
    John Bethencourt, Amit Sahai, and Brent Waters:
    Ciphertext-Policy Attribute-Based Encryption.
    IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 2007
    4611 cites at Google Scholar
    2485% above average of year
    Last visited: May-2020
    Paper: DOI

→  Check out the top-100 ranking

Absolute citations are not necessarily a good indicator for the impact of a paper, as the number of citations usually grows with the age of a paper. The following list shows an alternative ranking, where the citations are normalized by the age of each paper.

Top-cited papers normalized by age ⌄

  1. 1
    Paul Kocher, Jann Horn, Anders Fogh, Daniel Genkin, Daniel Gruss, Werner Haas, Mike Hamburg, Moritz Lipp, Stefan Mangard, Thomas Prescher, Michael Schwarz, and Yuval Yarom:
    Spectre Attacks: Exploiting Speculative Execution.
    IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 2019
    932 cites at Google Scholar
    11141% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI
  2. 2
    Nicholas Carlini and David A. Wagner:
    Towards Evaluating the Robustness of Neural Networks.
    IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 2017
    2157 cites at Google Scholar
    5027% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI
  3. 3
    Mihir Bellare and Phillip Rogaway:
    Random Oracles are Practical: A Paradigm for Designing Efficient Protocols.
    ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), 1993
    5249 cites at Google Scholar
    3891% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI
  4. 4
    D. F. C. Brewer and Michael J. Nash:
    The Chinese Wall Security Policy.
    IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 1989
    1355 cites at Google Scholar
    2901% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI
  5. 5
    Vipul Goyal, Omkant Pandey, Amit Sahai, and Brent Waters:
    Attribute-based encryption for fine-grained access control of encrypted data.
    ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), 2006
    5092 cites at Google Scholar
    2833% above average of year
    Last visited: Jun-2020
    Paper: DOI

→  Check out the normalized top-100 ranking

The Last Decades

If you are interested in a more detailed breakdown of top-cited papers over time, you can find can find rankings for the last decades here:

1980 – 1989
1990 – 1999
2000 – 2009

2010 – 2019
2020 – now

Limitations

As with any ranking, the presented results do not necessarily reflect the true impact of a paper. Citations are only one metric to assess the reception of a paper and are insufficient to characterize all aspects contributing to the relevance of scientific work. Moreover, the underlying data may contain errors or missing information. Errare humanum est.

Contact

If you have questions, comments, complains, or ideas how to improve this webpage, feel free to send an email to Konrad Rieck. Alternatively, you can contact me on Twitter.