Building a Connected Digital World

Burt Kaliski | Nov 11, 2011

I’ve been fascinated by math puzzles as long as I can remember.

When I was 12, my uncle Marty gave me a copy of Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Carnival, a hardbound book of puzzles with instructive commentary that entertained my curious mind on many an evening.

In high school, I taught myself to program in assembly language on a PDP-11/70 minicomputer, encountering more puzzles that educated me on the basics of computer science. And after going on to complete a PhD in the field, I embarked on a journey to bring one of the great technologies of number theory into practice:  the RSA public-key cryptosystem, invented by my PhD advisor Ron Rivest and his colleagues Adi Shamir and Len Adleman.

A few years into my tenure as chief scientist at RSA Data Security, Jim Bidzos, the CEO of the start-up company, launched Verisign as one of the earliest examples of what today is called a “cloud service provider,” with an initial focus on public-key infrastructure. A decade-and-a-half, and a few career posts later, I find myself again connected to Verisign as its new CTO.

As a cloud service provider with a current focus on Internet infrastructure, Verisign helps users and organizations to connect with confidence to all kinds of resources across the Internet.  Accordingly, my interests have now turned to Verisign’s mission of “helping the world connect between the dots.” Research questions abound in this quest, such as:

  • How to keep resources accessible to legitimate users when the resources are under attack, and when there’s no immediate way to tell users and attackers apart?
  • Which tools and protocols users and organizations across the Internet are employing to make their connections – and how those tools and protocols can be improved?
  • How regional outages and politico-technical decisions can affect both national and global resiliency of the Internet, due to critical dependencies among various Internet infrastructure services?

Researchers at Verisign Labs, together with university and industry partners, are addressing challenges like these and many others, as described further on the new Verisign Labs website and in the video below.

The puzzles I worked on years ago entertained and educated me.  The current ones enable a greater purpose:  building a connected digital world.  I’m delighted to be on board at Verisign and look forward to being part of many more fascinating puzzles – and solutions – in the years to come.