Hugo M. Krawczyk
Distinguished Research Staff Member
Bachelor of Arts, Mathematics, University of Haifa
Master of Arts and Ph.D., Computer Science, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Hugo’s fundamental and lasting contributions to the theoretical and practical foundations of cryptography include pioneering designs to internet-wide security protocols and major advances in encryption, authentication and privacy.
Current project that excites you most?
The next generation of security and cryptography is so exciting. I think we’re going to see more sophisticated use of our work being applied — for example, in blockchain and in privacy-preserving technologies. We are trying to identify elements in theory that are missing from the development of blockchain and other central applications. We are definitely never bored — we work hard, but we enjoy it too.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my work and legacy at IBM. I actually started working at IBM Research - Haifa in the late 1980s. My journey brought me to Yorktown, New York, where I was able to make some major contributions to internet security standards that are still important today including designs for web security through the Secure Socket Layer protocol as well as foundations of Virtual Private Networks via the IP Security standard. This work is grounded in math and theory, which are crucial for advancing technology even though it’s less visible to the general public.
As a cryptographer, I do the math and science behind information security systems. I feel privileged to have lived during a time when the internet was just starting. It’s amazing that all of these years later I’m working on the next generation of these protocols, so essential to the well being of the modern information society.
Advice for tackling tough problems?
Tackling tough problems is about finding a combination of motivation, curiosity and intent. The security work that has been some of the most exciting of my career was not actually my original plan. However, new opportunities came up and I was able to take advantage of them.
Greatest influence in your life?
I have been fortunate to have multiple influences in my life. My third-grade teacher inspired me early in life, raising my interest in math. My Ph.D. advisor had a huge impact on me too, and my great colleagues in IBM Research have always inspired and supported me. The accumulation of all of these influences has made a big impact in my life. I have so many people to thank. My family is very supportive of my work and they share my excitement, but also they have made great sacrifices for me. Family plays a huge part in allowing us to be dedicated to our research.
What’s your passion project?
My main project besides work is family. Three grown-up children keep me busy with their life and excitement!