Seminars & Colloquia

Steven Bellovin

Columbia University

"Permissive Action Links, Nuclear Weapons, and the History of Public Key"

Monday January 30, 2006 04:00 PM
Location: 107A, Park Shops NCSU Historical Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)

This talk is part of the Triangle Computer Science Distinguished Lecturer Series


Abstract: From a security perspective, command and control of nuclear weapons presents a challenge. The security mechanisms are supposed to be so good that they're impossible to bypass. But how do they work? Beyond that, there are reports linking these mechanisms to the early history of public key cryptography. We'll explore the documented history of both fields, and speculate on just how permissive action links -- the "combination locks" on nuclear weapons -- actually work.

Short Bio: Steven M. Bellovin is a professor of computer science at Columbia University, where he does research on networks, security, and especially why the two don't get along. He joined the faculty in 2005 after many years at Bell Labs and AT&T Labs Research, where he was an AT&T Fellow. He received a BA degree from Columbia University, and an MS and PhD in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While a graduate student, he helped create Netnews; for this, he and the other perpetrators were award the 1995 Usenix Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Advisory Board. Bellovin is the co-author of "Firewalls and Internet Security: Repelling the Wily Hacker," and holds several patents on cryptographic and network protocols. He has served on many National Research Council study committees, including those on information systems trustworthiness, the privacy implications of authentication technologies, and cybersecurity research needs; he was also a member of the information technology subcommittee of an NRC study group on science versus terrorism. He was a member of the Internet Architecture Board from 1996-2002; he was co-director of the Security Area of the IETF from 2002 through 2004.

Host: Frederick Brooks, Computer Science, UNC

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