Every year, The Marconi Society recognizes those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of communications for the benefit of humankind through scientific or technological discoveries.
Congratulations to Paul Kocher and Taher Elgamal who have been awarded the prestigious 2019 Marconi Prize for their development of Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) and other contributions to the security of communications.
In 1995, while at Netscape Communications, Taher and Paul recognized the potential for cryptographic protocols to provide security for the burgeoning World Wide Web. The SSL/TLS protocol enables participants to authenticate themselves using digital certificates and protects the data exchanged against eavesdropping and tampering. Its ability to bring secure web communication to non-technical users makes SSL/TLS one of the most widely used cryptographic protocols. Today, users still look for the SSL lock icon in the browser to ensure communication and data is encrypted.
TLS, or SSL 3.0, was created after SSL 2.0 was found to have numerous vulnerabilities. The design of TLS is genius for its ability to adapt and change as new bugs or vulnerabilities are discovered. It also guarantees that, regardless if the encryption is broken, encrypted content can’t be changed. In 2018, Paul was also credited with the discovery of the “Spectre”class of vulnerabilities in microprocessors.
“In today’s climate, protecting communication and data across network channels has never been more important,” said Dr. Vinton Cerf, chair of the Marconi Society in a statement. “Paul and Taher played not only a role in securing data and communication exchange across the web, but in further developing and scaling of the internet.”Founder of Cryptography Research and current senior technology advisor to Rambus, Paul remains a pioneer in the security industry. Martin Scott, general manager of Rambus’ Security Division said: “What Paul and Taher created impacts every user communicating on the web today. The sophistication with which these protocols were designed enables them to continuously evolve alongside an increasingly hostile security landscape. Their innovation provides the foundation on which future cryptography design will be built.”
By receiving the Marconi Prize, Paul and Taher join a distinguished list of scientists whose work underlies all of modern communication technology, from the microprocessor to the Internet, and from optical fiber to GPS and the latest wireless breakthroughs.
Paul and Taher will be recognized at The Marconi Society’s annual Awards Dinner in San Carlos on May 17. Read the Marconi Society’s press release recognizing Paul and Taher here.