Who's Who in Infosec: Philip Zimmermann

Who's Who in Infosec is an ongoing series featuring profiles of security professionals and their contributions to the industry.

Who's Who in Infosec is an ongoing series featuring profiles of security professionals and their contributions to the industry. SearchSecurity.com will recognize one of these individuals with the SearchSecurity.com Trailblazer Leadership Award at Security Decisions 2003. SearchSecurity.com members are invited to submit nominations for the award through Aug. 1, 2003.




Philip R. Zimmermann is the creator of Pretty Good Privacy. For that, he was the target of a three-year criminal investigation, because the government held that US export restrictions for cryptographic software were violated when PGP spread all around the world following its 1991 publication as freeware. Despite the lack of funding, the lack of any paid staff, the lack of a company to stand behind it and government persecution, PGP nonetheless became the most widely used e-mail encryption software in the world. After the government dropped its case in early 1996, Zimmermann founded PGP Inc. The company was acquired by Network Associates Inc (NAI) in December 1997, and he stayed on for three years as Senior Fellow. In August 2002 PGP was acquired from NAI by a new company called PGP Corporation, where Zimmermann now serves as special advisor and consultant. Zimmermann currently is consulting for a number of companies and industry organizations on matters cryptographic, and he is also a Fellow at the Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

Before founding PGP Inc, Zimmermann was a software engineer with more than 20 years of experience, specializing in cryptography and data security, data communications and real-time embedded systems. His interest in the political side of cryptography grew out of his background in military policy issues.

He has received numerous technical and humanitarian awards for his pioneering work in cryptography. In 2001 Zimmermann was inducted into the CRN Industry Hall of Fame. In 2000 InfoWorld named him one of the Top 10 Innovators in E-business. In 1999 he received the Louis Brandeis Award from Privacy International, in 1998 a Lifetime Achievement Award from Secure Computing Magazine, and in 1996 the Norbert Wiener Award from Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility for promoting the responsible use of technology. He also received the 1995 Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design, the 1995 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the 1996 PC Week IT Excellence Award and the 1996 Network Computing Well-Connected Award for "Best Security Product." PGP was selected by Information Week as one of the Top 10 Most Important Products of 1994. Time Magazine also named Zimmermann one of the "Net 50", the 50 most influential people on the Internet in 1995.

In addition to the awards for versions of PGP developed before Zimmermann started a company, subsequent versions of PGP as refined by the company's engineering team continue to be recognized each year with many more industry awards.

Zimmermann received his bachelor's degree in computer science from Florida Atlantic University in 1978. He is a member of the International Association of Cryptologic Research, the Association for Computing Machinery and the League for Programming Freedom. He is Chairman of the OpenPGP Alliance, serves on the Boards of Directors for Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and Veridis, and is on the Advisory Boards for Anonymizer.com, Hush Communications and Qualys.

Zimmermann can be reached by e-mail at prz@mit.edu, or by phone by clicking here.

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