Cryptography Guru Paul Kocher Speaks Out
Cryptography Research Inc. President Paul Kocher talks about how the copy-protection debate is missing the point.SAN FRANCISCOAs the wave of acquisitions in the security industry continues to mold innovation and original thought into a gray mass of sameness and me-too product offerings, successful, independent security companies are fast becoming a dying breed. One of the few holdouts in this arena is Cryptography Research Inc., a small San Francisco-based company that tackles difficult cryptographic issues for a variety of high-end clients. The company is currently working on a new copy-protection scheme for digital content that enables content owners to control how the content is used. Paul Kocher, the companys president, is considered one of the rising stars in the world of cryptography, thanks to his design for the SSL v3.0 protocol and development of a timing attack on the RSA algorithm. Senior Editor Dennis Fisher sat down with Kocher and Benjamin Jun, the companys vice president, at the RSA Conference last week to discuss the new technology and why the current argument over mandated copy protection is moot. eWEEK: Can you tell me a bit about how your company is different from most security companies? Kocher: Our focus is to solve the hardest security problems that people have. We do a lot of work with Hollywood studios. There have been a lot of technologically poor proposals [regarding digital piracy] that are in a lot of ways the worst of all worlds. They not only dont solve the problem, they make it worse. We dont build products or write huge pieces of software, but we can tackle the really hard problems. We only have eight people, but its a small shop of really bright people.
eWEEK: Well, there probably arent that many people who have the kind of knowledge that you need.