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Taher Elgamal: Egyptian-American Cryptographer and “Father of SSL”

Dr. Taher Elgamal is an Egyptian cryptographer and entrepreneur. He has served as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Security at Salesforce since 2013. Prior to that, he was the founder and CEO of Securify and the director of engineering at RSA Security. From 1995 to 1998, he was the chief scientist at Netscape Communications.

He is recognized as the “father of SSL” for his work in computer security while at Netscape, and for his 1985 paper, “A Public Key Cryptosystem and A Signature Scheme Based on Discrete Logarithms” in which he proposed the design of the ElGamal discrete log cryptosystem and of the ElGamal signature scheme, which later became the basis for Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) adopted by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the Digital Signature Standard (DSS).

Born in Cairo, Egypt in 1955, he initially came to the United States to pursue a PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, he said that “cryptography was the most beautiful use of math he’d ever seen” in reference to his early passion and interest in mathematics.

Elgamal earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Cairo University in 1977, and Masters and Doctorate degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1981 and 1984. Among his many recognitions, Elgamal is a recipient of the RSA Conference 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award, he is most often recognized as the “father of SSL, the Internet security standard Secure Sockets Layer.

Photo: “TechWadi Global Technology Forum 2010” by John Pozadzides is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.