Google Engineer Dr. Joseph Bonneau Wins NSA Award, Blogs About Conflicted Feelings

Posted Jul 28, 2013

Dr. Joseph Bonneau, an engineer at Google, wrote a research paper that was highlighted last year at an international symposium.  That paper has won the National Security Agency’s first annual Science of Security (SoS) Competition.  Dr. Bonneau completed his doctorate last year at the University of Cambridge and works for Google in New York City.  His paper was called “The Science of Guessing: Analyzing an Anonymized Corpus of 70 Million Passwords.”

Dr. Bonneau was named the winner on July 19th.  On that same day, he wrote a blog post about his “conflicted feelings” around the around.

“I?d be remiss not to mention my conflicted feelings about winning the award given what we know about the NSA?s widespread collection of private communications and what remains unknown about oversight over the agency?s operations. Like many in the community of cryptographers and security engineers, I?m sad that we haven?t better informed the public about the inherent dangers and questionable utility of mass surveillance,” stated Dr. Bonneau in a blog post.  “In accepting the award I don?t condone the NSA?s surveillance. Simply put, I don?t think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form. Yet I?m glad I got the rare opportunity to visit with the NSA and I?m grateful for my hosts? genuine hospitality.”