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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Courtesy Tadayoshi Kohno

Tadayoshi Kohno, 29

Securing systems cryptographically

University of Washington

Our reliance on the Internet is increasing all the time. Tadayosh­i Kohno, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering, worries that even if our data is encrypted, hackers can still glean information about us by working around the codes. For instance, someone tapping into your system might not be able to view the movie you're watching but could guess its title from properties such as the file size and the compression algorithm used.


So Kohno invented the concept of systems-oriented provable security. Traditionally, cryptologists have assumed that a security protocol is unbreakable if no one they show it to can crack it. But with provable security, they use sophisticated math to show that cracking a given code would require someone to decipher a cryptographic "building block" that's known to be secure.


Kohno extended this technique to the system level, examining everything from the software that compresses a file to the Internet protocols used to send it. He searches for weak points that might leak identifying information and writes provably secure algorithms to protect them. One of his schemes can handle data transmitted at 10 gigabits per second, the new Internet standard--a rate that overwhelmed previous security protocols. The U.S. government is incorporating a derivative of the scheme into an official encryption standard; Kohno anticipates that banks and corporate networks will use it as well.


--Neil Savage

2007 TR35 Winners

Sanjit Biswas

Cheap, easy Internet access

Josh Bongard

Adaptive robots

Garrett Camp

Discovering more of the Web

Mung Chiang

Optimizing networks

Tadayoshi Kohno

Securing systems cryptographically

Tariq Krim

Building a personal, dynamic Web page

Ivan Krstic´

Making antivirus software obsolete

Jeff LaPorte

Internet-based calling from mobile phones

Karen Liu

Bringing body language to computer-animated characters

Anna Lysyanskaya

Securing online privacy

Tapan Parikh

Simple, powerful mobile tools for developing economies

Babak Parviz

Self-assembling micromachines

Partha Ranganathan

Power-aware computing systems

Kevin Rose

Online social bookmarking

Marc Sciamanna

Controlling chaos in telecom lasers

Desney Tan

Teaching computers to read minds

Luis von Ahn

Using “captchas” to digitize books

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