Day 1 at RWC: Levchin Prize at RWC

levchinThe main event at RWC 2017 on the first day was the award of the 2017 Levchin prize for Real World Cryptography. This is two awards of $10,000 each to a person, or group, to reward work on impactful cryptography. The awards were given out again by Max Levchin, who has sponsored the award in perpetuity.

The first of the 2017 awards went to Joan Daemen who was the co-inventor of the AES blockcipher and also the co-inventor of the winner of the SHA-3 hash function competition. The AES algorithm is used everyday by billions of users, and SHA-3 is likely to become just as widely used and deployed. In his acceptance speech Joan made the tantalizing claim that he felt blockciphers will not be used in the future, and they will go the way of the rotor machine. This is because he believes the basic primitive will be the permutations at the heart of the SHA-3 construction.

The second prize went Moxie Marlinspike and Trevor Perrin for the development of the Signal protocol. This protocol forms the heart of the Signal messaging app, as well as being used in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Google Allo. In his acceptance speech Moxie refereed to the onward march of technology, for which people are merely conduits.

Prof. Nigel Smart

Prof. Nigel Smart

Nigel Smart, Unbound Co-Founder, is a Professor at KU Leuven, Belgium. He is a world-renowned expert in applied cryptography, and was the Vice President of the International Association of Cryptologic Research. In the past, Nigel worked at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories developing advanced encryption technologies. He has also been involved in developing many standards, and has worked with both industry and government on applying cryptography to solve critical security problems.

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