ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery has awarded two cryptographers with a $1 million prize and the 2015 Turing Award, which is called “the Nobel Prize of computing”, for their contribution with Internet protocols that are used to create secure communications.

The two awarded men are Whitfield Diffie, former Chief Security Officer of Sun Microsystems and Martin E. Hellman, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, said ACM in a press release Tuesday.

Cryptography is what allows billions of people worldwide to get secure Internet connections while making online shopping, using email, the cloud, or bank services. Most of the security protocols used currently on the Internet were developed by Mr. Diffie and Mr. Hellman, who published a paper in 1976 called “New Directions in Cryptography”.

Whitfield Diffie (right) and Martin E. Hellman (left), winners of the 2015 Turing Award. Photo credit: Chuck Painter / New York Times
Whitfield Diffie (right) and Martin E. Hellman (left), winners of the 2015 Turing Award. Photo credit: Chuck Painter / New York Times

According to ACM President Alexander L. Wolf., the subject of encryption is important to the media, which treats it as a matter of national security that can impact governments and corporations. Recently, Apple has been involved in a controversy due to encryption issues related to an iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino terrorists, which stores data of interest of the FBI.

“In 1976, Diffie and Hellman imagined a future where people would regularly communicate through electronic networks and be vulnerable to having their communications stolen or altered. Now, after nearly 40 years, we see that their forecasts were remarkably prescient.” He added in a press release published on Tuesday.

Public-key cryptography is fundamental for the tech industry, affirmed Andrei Broder, a scientist at Google, one of the companies that provided financial support to the $1 million prize. He explained that thanks to ideas and methods proposed by Diffie and Hellman, users can have their identities confirmed to access private data.

A typical secure URL begins with “https”, encryption explains it

Encryption is the best form to achieve cryptography, which is a practice that allows communication between two parties that know how to decipher the codes they are using. As a consequence of WWI and WWII, advances in the field of cryptography were possible, and new complex machines were developed to create faster and more secure encryption processes.

In “New Directions in Cryptography”, Diffie and Hellman introduced a new algorithm that permits websites to accomplish secure communications through a digital signature. A typical secure URL begins with “https”, explained ACM writers in a press release.

Professor Martin E. Hellman will use his $500,000 for publishing a book that seeks to create a more peaceful world

On Tuesday, Professor Hellman said that he and his wife will use his $500,000 share of the prize to collaborate in the creation of a more “peaceful, sustainable world, without nuclear weapons.”

As a result, they will write a new book that is expected to be released later 2016, which will explain how avoiding fights and arguments in human relationships can contribute to world peace.

“A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet” shows how the changes needed to build a strong marriage or other intimate relationship are the same ones needed to build a more peaceful, sustainable world.” wrote professor Hellman in a post on his blog dedicated to “defuse the nuclear threat”.

ACM will present the 2015 A.M. Turing Award at its annual Awards Banquet on June 11 in San Francisco, California, wrote the association in a press release.

Source: ACM Press Release