An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NSA Historical Figures

Virginia Jenkins Riley

2015 Hall of Honor Inductee

The variety of Virginia Riley's accomplishments in four decades at NSA confirms her status as a consummate cryptologist: linguist, cryptanalyst, teacher, computer practitioner, researcher, and senior manager. To each role she brought intellect, imagination, and sensitivity.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa with degrees from Miami University of Ohio and Duke Ms. Riley began her career at NSA in 1953 as a linguist. She became a self-taught cryptanalyst and computer programmer -- well before NSA had curricula or infrastructure for computer-assisted analysis.

In the early 1960s, Ms. Riley was one of the designers and programmers of a general program written for the UNIVAC 490, the first computer designed specifically for real-time applications at NSA. Included in this program package was a statistical program which Ms. Riley implemented for general use; it became one of the most widely used diagnostic tools available to cryptanalysts at that time.

In the late 1960s, Ms. Riley moved to the Cryptanalysis Department at the National Cryptologic School. There, she developed a new course in Cryptanalytic Diagnostics, which was highly creative in its methodology and was a stunning success. When Ms. Riley later assumed leadership of the CA Department, she reviewed and rewrote the entire CA curriculum, updating it, and taking advantage of new learning technologies. She introduced self-paced as well as computer-assisted training into the NCS.

Ms. Riley became chief of Personnel (M3), where she introduced a new twist to the college recruitment program: working analysts were teamed with personnel specialists so potential recruits on campuses could meet and talk with enthusiastic SIGINTers.

In the course of her multifaceted career, Ms. Riley also served as president of three of the Agency's learned organizations: the Crypto Mathematics Institute, the Computer and Information Science Institute, and the Human Resources Management Association, which she helped found.