Robert Morris – Encryption and Security Expert behind UNIX passes away

Robert Morris, the cryptographer behind operating system UNIX has passed away this week at age 78.

Morris emerged from Harvard University in 1958 with a Master’s Degree in Mathematics and was involved in research at AT&T’s Bell Labs in 1970, contributing his talents to early version of UNIX – the multitasking, multiuser computer system which is still in use today over 40 years after its inception (www.unix.org). He had major and most notable involvement in creating the math library, program encryption and password structure.

In the late 70s he began writing a paper on a German encryption tool, but this work was never completed due to United States security concerns, and into the 80s Morris was approached by the National Security Agency – the same group that blocked his earlier writings – with a lucrative and secretive job offer. He was to join the NSA as a security expert in 1986 through to the mid-nineties working with the FBI on encrypting evidence and on the earliest internet surveillance and security projects and cyber warfare – including attacks on Saddam Hussein’s forces in the Gulf War.

Robert Morris retired in 1994 to New Hampshire, where he lived until he sadly died on June 26th 2011.

The three golden rules to ensure computer security are: Do not own a computer. Do not power it on. And do not use it.” – Robert Morris        

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