Ian Goldberg

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Ian Avrum Goldberg
Portrait of Ian Avrum Goldberg
Born (1973-03-31) March 31, 1973 (age 49)
Alma mater
Known forOff-the-Record Messaging
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Science
InstitutionsUniversity of Waterloo
Thesis"A Pseudonymous Communications Infrastructure for the Internet" (2000)
Doctoral advisorEric Brewer

Ian Avrum Goldberg (born March 31, 1973) is a cryptographer and cypherpunk. He is best known for breaking Netscape's implementation of SSL (with David Wagner),[1] and for his role as chief scientist of Radialpoint (formerly Zero Knowledge Systems), a Canadian software company. Goldberg is currently a professor at the Faculty of Mathematics of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science within the University of Waterloo, and the Canada Research Chair in Privacy Enhancing Technologies.[2] He was formerly Tor Project board of directors chairman,[3] and is one of the designers of off the record messaging.[4]


He attended high school at the University of Toronto Schools, graduating in 1991. In 1995, he received a B.Math from the University of Waterloo in pure mathematics and computer science. He obtained a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in December 2000. His thesis was entitled A Pseudonymous Communications Infrastructure for the Internet.[5] His advisor was Eric Brewer.


As a high school student, Goldberg was a member of Canada's team to the International Math Olympiad from 1989 to 1991, where he received a bronze, silver, and gold medal respectively.[6] He was also a member of University of Waterloo team that won the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest in 1994.[7] In 1998, Wired Magazine chose him as a member of the "Wired 25".[8] In 2011 he won the EFF Pioneer Award.[9] In 2019, he won the USENIX Security Test of Time Award along with his colleagues David Wagner and Randi Thomas and former PhD supervisor Eric Brewer.[10]

Work in cryptography[edit]

In 1995, Goldberg with David Wagner discovered a flaw in the random number generator used for temporary key generation in the SSL implementation of Netscape Navigator.[1][11]

One of the first cryptanalyses on the WEP wireless encryption protocol was conducted by Goldberg with Nikita Borisov and David Wagner, revealing serious flaws in its design.[12][13]

Goldberg was a co-author of the Off-the-Record instant messaging encryption protocol. He is also the author of the Perl script included in the novel Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.[14]

In 2009 Goldberg was co-author of the Sphinx Mix Format,[15] which is nowadays implemented with the extension of a per-hop payload to increase the privacy of both payer and payee while routing Bitcoin payments through the Lightning Network.[16]

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, was a research assistant of Goldberg while a student at the University of Waterloo.[17][18]

Goldberg is a member of the Cryptography, Security and Privacy group as well as the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute (CPI). He has been collaborating with the CPI works on the development of a new interdisciplinary research and education program.[2]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ian Goldberg (1995-09-18). "Netscape SSL implementation cracked!". Newsgrouphks.lists.cypherpunks. Retrieved 2006-09-12.
  2. ^ a b "Privacy and cybersecurity can foster 21st Century democracy". Waterloo News. 2022-01-10. Retrieved 2022-04-19.
  3. ^ Perlroth, Nicole (13 July 2016). "Tor Project, a Digital Privacy Group, Reboots With New Board". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  4. ^ "Tor Project Board of Directors". Tor Project. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  5. ^ "A Pseudonymous Communications Infrastructure for the Internet" (PDF). 30 October 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2001. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ "International Mathematical Olympiad: Hall of fame".
  7. ^ "1993-94 18th Annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest Final Report". 2002-04-01. Archived from the original on 2011-01-02.
  8. ^ "The Wired 25". Wired. Vol. 6, no. 11. November 1998. Retrieved 2006-10-30.
  9. ^ "EFF Celebrates the 2011 Pioneer Award Winners". 18 November 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Ian Goldberg Colleagues Honoured Security Research Test of Time". 14 August 2019. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  11. ^ "The Cypherpunks Who Cracked Netscape". people.eecs.berkeley.edu.
  12. ^ Nikita Borisov; Ian Goldberg; David Wagner (2001). "Intercepting Mobile Communications: The Insecurity of 802.11" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-09-12.
  13. ^ "(In)Security of the WEP algorithm". www.isaac.cs.berkeley.edu.
  14. ^ Neal Stephenson (1999). Cryptonomicon. New York: Avon Books. p. Acknowledgements. ISBN 978-0-380-97346-0.
  15. ^ "Sphinx: A Compact and Provably Secure Mix Format" (PDF). cypherpunks.ca/~iang/.
  16. ^ "Basics Of Lightning Technology #4: Onion Routing Protocol". www.github.com/lightningnetwork/lightning-rfc. 21 July 2022.
  17. ^ "The Uncanny Mind That Built Ethereum". Wired. 13 July 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-07-13.
  18. ^ Hitt, Tarpley (2021-05-05). "Meet the World's Youngest Crypto Billionaire". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2022-04-19.

External links[edit]

  • University of Waterloo
  • UC Berkeley