By Gavin Clarke in San Francisco
19th November 2009
Crypto pioneer and Sun Microsystems' veteran chief security officer
Whitfield Diffie has left the company, with database-giant Oracle's
acquisition still in the air.
According to Technology Review, Diffie is slated to be a visiting
professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, after 18 years at
Sun, latterly in the high-profile security role as chief security
It's unclear why Diffie left Sun and whether his exit was related to
Oracle's pending takeover or recent layoffs. Oracle, as ever, declined
Diffie is famous for his ground-breaking invention of public key
cryptography - PKI - in 1975. PKI today is taken for granted because
it's used so widely to protect emails, documents, and commerce in
every-day online communications and business.
It's worth remembering that it was Diffie who helped make this a
reality. He sparred with spooks and US politicians, as the government
attempted to limit who could use crypto in the interests of "national
Diffie joined Sun in 1991 and in 2002 was named chief security officer,
with the mission of leading a global initiative to evangelize Sun's
security offerings. He was also tasked with talking about major issues
in relation to technology security.
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