Young cryptographer ends own life

Len Sassaman, a highly-regarded 31 year-old cryptographer who helped create secure communication systems, ended his own life on Sunday.

Len Sassaman, a highly-regarded 31 year-old cryptographer who helped create secure communication systems, ended his own life on Sunday. 

“Just got off the phone with the embassy. Having to talk to a consul about my husband's suicide is the worst conversation I've ever had,” Sassaman’s wife, Meredith Patterson confirmed on Twitter Sunday evening. 
 
There was an outpouring of condolences and disbelief from friends and colleagues on Twitter as news spread of Sassaman’s death.   
 
"Very sad to hear about Len Sassaman passing away. Terrible news," high-profile former hacker Kevin Mitnick wrote. 
 
Sassaman, who regularly speaker at the DefCon and BlackHat security conferences, was a victim of depression, according to Patterson.
 
“Depression is a terrible thing. It blinds people to how worthwhile they are and how much they're loved,” she wrote.
 
The former engineer for Anonymizer, which obscures a user's IP address, was a well-known “cypherpunk” who maintained the open source Mixmaster remailer software. The Mixmaster protocol was designed to protect against traffic analysis and offer users a way to send email anonymously. 
 
Sassaman’s work focussed on “attacking and defending anonymous communication systems, exploring the applicability of information-theoretic secure systems for privacy solutions, and designing protocols which satisfy the specific needs of the use case for which they are applied”, according to his profile at the computer security and industrial cryptography research department of Belgium’s Leuven University. 
 
At the 2009 BlackHat conference Sassaman and well-known security researcher Dan Kaminsky demonstrated various manners of attacking the X.509 public key infrastructure certificate authority. 
 
An obituary posted on Facebook by Sassaman’s friend and fellow hacker Pablos Holman recounted the pair’s early work on crypto-systems after they met in 1999.
 
“We were reimagining our world, riddled with cryptosystems that would mathematically enforce the freedoms that we treasured.  Anonymous remailers to preserve speech without fear of retribution; onion routers to ensure nobody could censor the internet; digital cash to enable a radically free economy.”
 
While much of their work was an academic “geek utopia exercise”, Sassaman liked to “get his hands dirty”, which led to numerous visits from Federal agencies over remailer abuse, according to Holman. 
 
Len, you are, in fact, an inspiration to those of us who inspired you.  You made something great of your life. You left a lot behind for us. Thanks for letting me be a part of it all.

Tags: Defcon, Anonymizer, black hat, cryptographer, Len Sassaman, Meredith Patterson

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Comments

chazL

1

I wish he had the strength to stick it out...we need more people like him to fight the oligarchy fascism that is growing all around us...he was making a difference....many sensitive people are also very honest, smart people and are not easily fooled, but the real tragedy of our time is people growing up in our aberrant culture do not realize the emotional conflicts this creates by trying to reconcile the lies with the truth, the false believes brain washed into us from day one and the truth of our harts and souls, this conflict i believe is the core of depression for many. Some of course its brain chemistry, i know i suffer the same and alot has to do with looking at the state of the world today and the sickness deception manipulation of governments and corporations bent on enslaving us all. This would and is depressing many people.. the wars murdering innocent people for some to make a profit is emotionally hard to take for sensitive intelligent people.. to be harassed by jar head authority morons bent on oppression and control.. to be accused of all kinds of devious intent when in actuality desiring to make the world a better place. and being accused by the actual deviants that are seemingly winning these days....I wish i had a moment to have said hi and offer my support and solidarity in his work and life...

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hey read your post – Gulvafslibning Kurt Gulvmand conversely couldnt find your contact form.
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