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Master of puzzles

Finalist for European Inventor 2010 in the "Lifetime Achievement" category

Vast amounts of sensitive financial data pass through the World Wide Web every second. This data is secured by an intrinsic set of encryption methods, many of which have been developed by pioneer cryptographer Peter Landrock from Denmark.

Film

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Interview

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Interview transcript

At a glance 

Inventor: Peter Landrock, Denmark

Invention: Encryption codes for secure electronic data transfer

Sector: Information security/technology

Company: Cryptomathic

Today, more than 103 million bank clients in Europe use internet banking to manage their finances without having to leave the comfort of their own homes.

Securing this sensitive financial information is a priority, especially with the rising threat from computer hackers.

Many of today's most trusted data encryption methods bear the mark of renowned cryptographer Peter Landrock from Aarhus, Denmark. A recognised pioneer in the field of cryptography, Landrock also founded one of the first companies - Cryptomathic - to make a commercial success of selling encryption codes in 1986.

The 61-year-old has dedicated a lifetime of research to encryption methods and codes. Before graduating with a PhD in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1974, he had become fascinated with codes and code-breaking.

At the University of Aarhus, Landrock witnessed the unfolding of the computer revolution. Realising the commercial potential of computer codes in a digitally connected world, Landrock founded Cryptomathic in 1986 with fellow cryptographers Ivan Damgård and Jørgen Brandt.

Cryptomathic's first customers were financial institutions in need of digital methods to ensure authenticity of financial documents and to protect bank information. Landrock developed mathematical algorithms that became fundamental to modern digital cryptography, including the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC).

In 1993, Cryptomathic released the world's first nationwide office and home banking system, TeleSeC, for the Danish Savings Bank. Cryptomathic now supplies encryption solutions to Europe's leading bank institutions, as well as major credit-card vendors Visa and MasterCard. Cryptomathic employs 70 people; revenues are a company secret.

Peter Landrock has lectured at more than 150 universities and served as President of the International Association for Cryptologic Research from 1992 to 1995. His inventions have helped secure electronic voting systems and electronic passport solutions. He is the President of Cryptomathic and teaches cryptographic theory at the Department of Mathematics at Aarhus University.

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