I am a third year PhD student at the Internet Research Lab at University of Iowa. My advisor is Prof. Zubair Shafiq. I conduct research on web security and privacy with an emphasis on privacy enhancing technologies.



Resume [Updated: 11/19/2018] | Twitter | Linkedin



Joined Brave Software as a summer research intern.
Presented poster on anti-adblocking at the Midwest Security Workshop 2018.
Our research on adblocking covered by [ Bleeping Computer ] [ PerformanceIN ].
Presented our work on anti-adblocking at IMC 2017.
Our work on adblocking got accepted at IMC 2017.
Shadow program committee member for IMC 2017 [ Shadow PC member ].
Internship at Microsoft.
Attended IEEE CNS 2016 in Philadelphia. Had a good learning experience.
Started my PhD at University of Iowa.
Attended USENIX Security conference, and got to hear some interesting ideas.
Published my first paper on malware propogation [ Malware Slums ] in IEEE/IFIP DSN 2016.
Left research assistantship at Lahore University of Management Sciences.



My current research focuses on improving the effectiveness of adblocking and tracker-blocking technologies. Online advertisements have become an attractive target for various type of abuses, such as online tracking. Adblockers serve as a tool to protect user privacy by blocking these advertisements. Adblockers rely on filter lists to block advertisements. However, filter lists suffer from two major problems. First, they are manually curated with informal crowdsourced feedback and thus lack precision and accuracy. Second, manual curation adds an update overhead and make filter lists susceptible to evasion attacks.
In my research, I address these challenges using machine learning approaches.





Umar Iqbal, Zubair Shafiq, Zhiyun Qian
17th Annual ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), United Kingdom, 2017.



Salman Yousaf, Umar Iqbal, Shehroze Farooqi, Raza Ahmad, Zubair Shafiq, Fareed Zaffar
46th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN), France, 2016.





Umar Iqbal, Zubair Shafiq, Zhiyun Qian
Midwest Security Workshop, Urbana Champaign , 2018.








As an intern at Brave. I instrumented Chromium web browser to capture the rendering of a webpage. Specifically, I instrumented element creation, modification, removal, script execution, script compilation, and network requests initiation. The instrumentation provides sequence of rendering events for a webpage which can be generalized to a variety of problems.



As an intern at Microsoft, I wrote a technical report describing the current landscape of ad and tracker blockers. In light of developments around adblocking the report outlined how and what an adblocker for Microsoft Edge would look like.



As a solution analyst at LMKT Corporation., I worked on a number of projects. The most prominent projects were:
(1) PTCL Smartlink: A mobile app for calling and instant messaging. It was packaged for PTCL (Pakistan Telecomunication Company Limited).
(2) V-Govern: An e-governance solution. I added search functionality to the product with configurable similarity models.
(3) RAFM (Revenue Assurance and Fraud management): A reporting dashboard. It provided near real time data analytics to monitor revenue and fraud critical situations by processing over one billion CDRs on daily basis.