Google engineer Joseph Bonneau is the first person to be awarded the NSA's "Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper" award for his paper "The Science of Guessing," which analyzed over 70 million user passwords in an effort to study why we're all so horrible at making strong passwords. "Even seemingly distant language communities choose the same weak passwords," he concludes.
"I don't think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form."
In a blog post, Bonneau expresses thanks for winning the award, but decries the NSA's large-scale efforts to collect private documents from citizens. "I don't think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form," Bonneau wrote. Yet, after presenting his paper to NSA engineers at the IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy, Bonneau's convinced that America's "core problems" are in Washington and not at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, MD.
"Our focus must remain on winning the public debate around surveillance and developing privacy-enhancing technology," writes Bonneau, "But I hope that this award program, established to increase engagement with academic researchers, can be a small but positive step."