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About Internet Society 6 December 2018

Jason Donenfeld Honored with the ISRG’s Radiant Award

Olaf Kolkman
By Olaf KolkmanChief Internet Technology Officer

Earlier this week Jason Donenfeld received the Radiant Award from the Internet Security Research Group. Jason is an accomplished engineer and a creative thinker, which makes his work clean, simple, and takes it a step beyond – most notably in WireGuard, an open-source secure VPN tunnel.

We are proud to have enabled this award. Let me explain why.

At the Internet Society we care a great deal about the technologies that help to establish trust between people around the globe, while those people may have never interacted before.

One of the groups we proudly partner with is the Internet Security Research Group, the non-profit behind the Let’s Encrypt initiative. In the 4 years since Let’s Encrypt was launched, it has changed the landscape of web traffic encryption. Whereas in 2014 around 30% of pages loaded by Firefox where loaded over a secure channel, that number has increased to over 75% by now. I believe that rise in secure web traffic is in large part the result of the work by Let’s Encrypt.

Before 2014 it was somewhat costly to get a web certificate, a critical piece of authentication material that is the basis of establishing global trust. Both in terms of money as well as operational costs – these things had to be configured and maintained. The genius of Let’s Encrypt is that it reduces both to being nothing. They provide the certificate for free and allow for a fully automated workflow.

Obviously the Let’s Encrypt operation itself costs money. It must provide a secure and reliable service and that means system, network, security, and software engineers have to do real work. The funding for that is provided by sponsors, such as ourselves. However, the Let’s Encrypt project relies on the vision and the capabilities of engineers who put their minds to making the Internet more secure and privacy respecting.

We often forget that technology can have a huge impact on how we operate with our society, and often we miss out on recognizing the leading vision of engineers. The Radiant Award addresses that. It identifies individuals whose contributions make the Internet more secure and privacy respecting. It gives them a face and a voice.

Making the Internet more secure is not exclusively the realm of a few big tech companies, it is the work of millions of professionals who strive to make society better by making the Internet a little better. The IRSG’s Radiant Award honors the work that those professionals do outside of a corporate structure, work they do on their own time because they think it is important to help improve the Internet. That is why we are proud to help honor to Jason Donenfeld, who shares his own thoughts in this blog.

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