NDSS Symposium 1999)
Network and Distributed System Security Symposium
Catamaran Resort Hotel
San Diego, California
03 February 1999 - Technical Tutorials
04 - 05 February 1999 - Symposium
Whitfield Diffie, who holds the position of Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, is
best known for his 1975 discovery of the concept of public key cryptography, for which he
was awarded a Doctorate in Technical Sciences (Honoris Causa) by the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology in 1992.
For a dozen years prior to assuming his present position in 1991, Diffie was Manager of
Secure Systems Research for Northern Telecom, functioning as the center of expertise in
advanced security technologies throughout the corporation. Among his achievements in this
position was the design of the key management architecture for NT's PDSO security system
for X.25 packet networks.
Diffie received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology in 1965. Prior to becoming interested in cryptography, he worked
on the development of the Mathlab symbolic manipulation system --- sponsored jointly at
Mitre and the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory --- and later on proof of correctness
of computer programs at Stanford University.
Since 1993, Diffie has worked largely in public policy, in the area of cryptography. He
has testified twice to the House and twice to the Senate. His position --- in opposition
to limitations on the business and personal use of cryptography --- has been the subject
of articles in the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Omini, and Discover. The subject has
also been covered on the Discovery Channel, Equinox TV in Britain, and the Japanese TV
Notariety has provoked a number of awards, including:
- IEEE Information Theory Society Best Paper Award for 1979.
- IEEE Donald E. Fink award for 1981.
- The 1994 Pioneer Award, given by The Electronic Frontiers
- Foundation for contribution to the quality of life in cyberspace.
- The 1996 National Computer Systems Security Award given jointly by NIST and NSA.
- The 1997 Louis E. Levy Medal from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
- The First ACM Paris Kanellakis Award for contribution to theory and practice in computer science.
- The IEEE Information Society Golden Jubilee Award for invention of the Diffie-Hellman key exchange protocol.
Diffie is the co-author with Prof. Susan Landau of the University of Massachusetts of
the book Privacy on the Line: The politics of wiretapping and encryption.