Whitfield Diffie


Not himself a Cypherpunk, but he is known as a privacy advocate and along with Martin Hellman he solved the key distribution problem; which allowed two previously unknown-to-each-other participants to communicate securely without a secure channel to exchange keys.

From wikipedia:

Bailey Whitfield ‘Whit’ Diffie (born June 5, 1944) is an American cryptographer and one of the pioneers of public-key cryptography. Diffie and Martin Hellman’s 1976 paper New Directions in Cryptography introduced a radically new method of distributing cryptographic keys, that helped solve key distribution—a fundamental problem in cryptography. Their technique became known as Diffie–Hellman key exchange. The article stimulated the almost immediate public development of a new class of encryption algorithms, the asymmetric key algorithms.

After a long career at Sun Microsystems, where he became a Sun Fellow, Diffie served for two and a half years as Vice President for Information Security and Cryptography at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (2010–2012). He has also served as a visiting scholar (2009–2010) and affiliate (2010–2012) at the Freeman Spogli Institute’s Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, where he is currently a consulting scholar.

Together with Martin Hellman, Diffie won the 2015 Turing Award, widely considered the most prestigious award in the field of computer science. The citation for the award was: “For fundamental contributions to modern cryptography. Diffie and Hellman’s groundbreaking 1976 paper, ‘New Directions in Cryptography’, introduced the ideas of public-key cryptography and digital signatures, which are the foundation for most regularly-used security protocols on the internet today.”


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