Whitfield Diffie


Whitfield Diffie is an American cryptographer. He was born in  Washington, D.C on June 5,1944. He is one of the pioneers of public-key cryptography. He  discovered  the concept of public key cryptography, in 1975, which he developed along with Stanford University Electrical Engineering Professor Martin Hellman. Public key cryptography, which revolutionized not only cryptography but also the cryptographic community, now underlies the security of internet commerce.

Whitfield Diffie took cryptography out of the hands of the spooks and made privacy possible in the digital age – by inventing the most revolutionary concept in encryption since the Renaissance. He is widely known for Diffie–Hellman key exchange.



Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman together published a paper “New Directions in Cryptography “ in 1976.  It introduced a radically new method of distributing cryptographic keys, that went far toward solving one of the fundamental problems of cryptography, key distribution. This is known as Diffie–Hellman key exchange.

Whitfield Diffie is a consulting professor at CISAC. He was a visiting scholar in 2009-2010 and an affiliate from 2010-2012. Whitfield Diffie served ICANN Team organization as Vice President for information security and cryptography from 2010-2012.

During the 1980s, Diffie served as manager of secure systems research at Northern Telecom where he played a key role in the design of Northern’s first packet security product and in developing the group that was later to become Entrust. In 1991, he joined Sun Microsystems as distinguished engineer and remained as Sun fellow and chief security officer until the spring of 2009.

Diffie spent the 1990s working to protect the individual and business right to use encryption, for which he argues in the book Privacy on the Line, the Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption, which he wrote jointly with Susan Landau. Diffie is a Marconi fellow and the recipient of a number of awards including the National Computer Systems Security Award (given jointly by NIST and NSA),Kanellakis  Award (1976),Hamming Medal (2010)and the Franklin Institute’s Levy Prize.

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