Cryptsoft Fellow - Bruce Rich
Bruce, a former IBM Master Inventor (thrice!), has played a key role in security infrastructure projects worldwide.
"The most interesting part is 'now'."
What would you say is the most interesting part of your career thus far?
After working on IBM-internal infrastructure for a decade, I took the chance of working on a joint project with a university. While there, I was exposed to collaborative work on a scale larger than just a single company and a single set of priorities. The change was fantastic and I've never looked back. The opportunity of working with diverse sets of technologies and personalities, all in the name of a more connected but still secure world, is something that still grips me. First in DCE, OpenGroup's Distributed Computing Environment, then in web server plugins, then the W3C's efforts around Digital Signature and Encryption, and now in OASIS technical committees for key management and cryptography, I enjoy watching sparks fly as ideas collide and new entities form in the fusion. It just doesn't grow old. The most interesting part is 'now'.
Current project that excites you most?
I'm of two minds on this question. Firstly, I am thrilled to be part of Cryptsoft, an organization that builds SDKs for a wide variety of customers, some with very specific needs and others more general, but all having global impact by securing storage, commerce and infrastructure. Secondly, living on the cusp of quantum computing and its anticipated impact on traditional security and privacy is the opportunity of a lifetime. Peering far enough into the future to chart a safe course for our customers and our economy is an almost-daily challenge, as one never knows when "the" definitive discovery will be made or "the" paper written. Building standards in such a dynamic environment that incorporate crypto agility requires us all to work smarter together.
What's your passion project?
Austin is a refuge city for coastal communities along the Gulf of Mexico (think hurricanes, tropical storms). About eight years ago, my wife and I began participating in an organization known as the Austin Disaster Relief Network, hoping to build a skill set suitable for actually helping others during an emergency, rather than just wishing there was something we could do. I've gotten an amateur radio license so I can work the communications center when the phones are down, and both of us have trained in First Aid and Community Emergency Response, both US federal programs. We've both worked several "incidents" at this point, and it's a good feeling to be able to provide help for your neighbors, community and beyond.
Advice for tackling tough problems?
The problem is seldom what it first seems to be, so there is value in spending time gaining clarity on what the problem actually is. This analysis may show fracture lines in the problem space, areas that can be addressed separately rather than as just one large problem. And we live in a connected world, so often the individual solutions are within a browser's reach, and the big problem we started with collapses as successive pieces coalesce into a solution. So we're left with the old joke, "How do you eat an elephant?", to which we answer, "One bite at a time."
Cryptsoft Office of the CTO, Cryptsoft Fellow
Bachelor of Mathematics, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA