Open main menu

Keith Jonathan Winstein is a U.S. computer scientist and journalist. He is currently a professor at Stanford University.[1]

Keith Jonathan Winstein
ResidencePalo Alto, California
NationalityUnited States
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Known forauthor of Mosh
Scientific career
Fieldscomputer science and journalism (professionally)
Doctoral advisorHari Balakrishnan

Previously, he was the Claude E. Shannon Research Assistant[2] at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory's Networks and Mobile Systems group[3] at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pursuing a Ph.D. under Hari Balakrishnan. Winstein is best known as the author of Mosh, the mobile shell, a UDP-based ssh replacement optimized for mobile users featuring predictive local echo, automatic roaming, and high network resiliency.

He is the son of the late experimental physicist Bruce Winstein.

Computer scienceEdit

Winstein was involved in several computer science projects.

  • Tyrannosaurus Lex is a system Winstein designed to hide messages in documents by altering specific words, published in 1999 while Winstein was in high school at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.[4] The system was the original work in the field of "linguistic steganography."[5] However, analysis of Winstein's scheme by other researchers found that Tyrannosaurus Lex contains several vulnerabilities, allowing an eavesdropper to potentially decode hidden messages embedded using the system.[6][7][8][9]
  • Mosh, the mobile shell, first released in March 2012, is a computing tool used to connect from a client computer to a server over the Internet, to run a remote terminal.[10] Mosh is similar[11] to SSH, with additional features meant to improve usability for mobile users.
  • qrpff is one of the shortest programs that implements the DeCSS algorithm, co-authored by Winstein and Marc Horowitz, while at MIT.[12]
  • LAMP is a project at MIT that allows users to play CDs from a music library over the cable TV system.[13]
  • Winstein, along with Joshua Mandel, built a device for Richard Stallman that allowed him to get past the MIT proximity-card-locked doors, while allowing him to remain anonymous. The device would identify itself as Winstein, Gerald Jay Sussman, or Hal Abelson, in order to open the door.[14]


Winstein was a news reporter for The Wall Street Journal's Boston bureau from 2005[15] to its closure in 2009,[16] focusing on the biomedical beat.[4] Prior to his stint at the Journal, he was a reporter and news editor for MIT's student newspaper, The Tech, and interned at The New York Sun.

As a reporter, Winstein wrote several articles critical of medical studies.[17][18][19]

Winstein also disclosed errors in Google Flu Trends.[20][21]


  1. ^ Widom, Jennifer (Summer 2014). "2014 Department Newsletter". Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  2. ^ Keith Winstein and Faraz Najafi named recipients of 2012 Claude E. Shannon Research Assistantships, RLE News Articles, 27 April 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  3. ^ "Keith Winstein at Wireless@MIT". MIT CSAIL.
  4. ^ a b Vanderkam, Laura. "Hidden Meanings: Keith Winstein", Scientific American Online, 16 May 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. ^ Chang, Ching-Yun, and Stephen Clark. "Practical linguistic steganography using contextual synonym substitution and vertex colour coding", Proceedings of the 2010 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing. Association for Computational Linguistics, 2010
  6. ^ Yu, Zhenshan, Liusheng Huang, Zhili Chen, Lingjun Li, Xinxin Zhao, and Youwen Zhu. "Steganalysis of Synonym-Substitution Based Natural Language Watermarking", International Journal of Multimedia and Ubiquitous Engineering Vol. 4, No. 2, April, 2009.
  7. ^ Bergmair, Richard. "Towards linguistic steganography: A systematic investigation of approaches, systems, and issues", Final year project, The University of Derby, April (2004). Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  8. ^ Taskiran, Cuneyt M., et al. "Attacks on lexical natural language steganography systems", Electronic Imaging 2006. International Society for Optics and Photonics, 2006.
  9. ^ Clark, Stephen and Ching-Yun (Frannie) Chang. "Linguistic Steganography: Information Hiding in Text", University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Mosh: the mobile shell". Retrieved on 28 March 2013.
  11. ^ Brockmeier, Joe. "Into the Mosh Pit: A Mobile Shell Replacement for SSH",, 10 April 2012. Retrieved on 28 March 2013.
  12. ^ Loux, Brian. SIPB Members’ Hack Draws Legal Controversy, The Tech, 13 March 2001.
  13. ^ Schwartz, John. With Cable TV at M.I.T., Who Needs Napster?, New York Times, 27 October 2003.
  14. ^ Mandel, Josh, Austin Roach, and Keith Winstein. MIT Proximity Card Vulnerabilities, April 2004. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  15. ^ Forelle, Charles. "Fun with Calendars", Wall Street Journal Online, 29 December 2009. Retrieved on 2 May 2013.
  16. ^ Curt Nickisch (October 29, 2009). "Wall Street Journal Closes Boston Bureau, Cuts 9 Reporters". WBUR. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  17. ^ Wood, Shelley. ATLAS trial "flaws"? Wall Street Journal alleges stats do not prove noninferiority of Liberté to Taxus Express,, 14 August 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  18. ^ Wall Street Journal: Reporter reviews data, says company published flawed research analysis, Knight Science Journalism Tracker, 14 August 2008. Retrieved 15 Jan 2016.
  19. ^ Winstein, Keith. "A Simple Health-Care Fix Fizzles Out", The Wall Street Journal, 11 February 2010, page A1.
  20. ^ Goldberg, Carey. "Is ‘Google Flu Trends’ Prescient Or Wrong?", wbur's CommonHealth, 13 January 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  21. ^ Goldberg, Carey. "As Flu Ebbs, Google Tracker Looking Way, Way Too High", wbur's CommonHealth, 4 February 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.