Today serial entrepreneur Max Levchin, announced the winners of his annual cryptography award, the Levchin Prize for Real-World Cryptography at the 2019 Real-World Crypto Conference in San Jose, California. The award honors entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions to solving global, real-world cryptography issues.
As the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test, one of the first commercial implementations of CAPTCHA, cryptography has been an important part of Levchin’s career in computer science and technology. He started the prize as a way to bring broader public awareness and promote the importance of applied, real-world cryptography and its applications in digital security. This year’s recipients are Eric Rescorla, Chief Technology Officer at Mozilla and Mihir Bellare, cryptographer and professor at the University of California San Diego. More details about this year’s award recipients can be found below.
“Data privacy and security become more important every day making cryptography research even more integral to the future of the Internet as we know it,” said Levchin, CEO of fintech company Affirm, and co-founder and former CTO of PayPal. “I’m honored to be able to recognize individuals who are working to advance a field that is extremely important to me, both personally and professionally.”
This year’s recipients were recognized at the 2019 Real-World Crypto conference, which brings together cryptography researchers and developers who are implementing cryptography on the Internet, the cloud and embedded devices from around the world. The conference is organized by the International Association of Cryptologic Research (IACR) to strengthen and advance the conversation between these two communities.
The 2019 winners were selected by the Real-World Cryptography conference steering committee, which includes professors from Stanford University, University of Edinburgh, Microsoft Research, Royal Holloway University of London, Cornell Tech, University of Florida, University of Bristol, and NEC Research.
More information about the Levchin Prize for Real-World Cryptography can be found on www.levchinprize.com.
About the 2019 Levchin Prize for Real-World Cryptography award recipients
Eric Rescorla is Chief Technology Officer, Firefox at Mozilla, where he is responsible for setting the overall technical strategy for the Firefox browser. He has contributed extensively to many of the core security protocols used in the Internet, including TLS, DTLS, WebRTC, ACME, and the in-development IETF QUIC protocol. Most recently, he was editor of TLS 1.3, which already secures 10% of websites despite having been finished for less than six months. Eric co-founded Let’s Encrypt, a free and automated certificate authority that now issues more than a million certificates a day, in order to remove barriers to online encryption and helped HTTPS grow from around 30% of the web to around 75%. Previously, he served on the California Secretary of State’s Top To Bottom Review where he was part of a team that found severe vulnerabilities in multiple electronic voting devices.
Mihir Bellare is a cryptographer whose work has focused on the development of practice-oriented provable security. He obtained his BS at Caltech and his PhD at MIT. He is a Fellow of the ACM, a Fellow of the IACR and a recipient of the ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award. He has an h-index of 100 and over 50,000 citations as per Google Scholar. Cryptographic algorithms that he has co-developed and are widely used in practice include HMAC, RSA-OAEP, RSA-PSS and DHIES.
About the Levchin Prize for Real-World Cryptography
Established in 2015, the Levchin Prize for Real-World Cryptography recognizes up to two groups or individuals annually who have made significant advances in the practice of cryptography and its use in real-world systems. In addition to a trophy modeled after the Jefferson Disk wheel cypher and a Cryptex (coined from the fictional writings of author Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”), award recipients receive a cash prize of $10,000 each.
Anyone is eligible to apply for the Levchin Prize. Winners of the Levchin Prize must attend the award ceremony at the RWC conference to receive the prize. To learn more or submit a nomination for the 2020 Levchin prize, please visit www.levchinprize.com.