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NSA Historical Figures

Richard Proto

2013 Hall of Honor Inductee

Richard Proto entered NSA in 1964 as a cryptologic mathematician in the Communications Security Research & Development organization. Across his career, Mr. Proto anticipated the flow of technological innovation, recognized its challenges, and appreciated opportunities it offered for creating capabilities to protect the nation. Serving in key roles in the research organization and the operational side of information security, he worked in security component design, security system architectures, vulnerability finding, and risk management.

One of Mr. Proto's enduring legacies was establishing a culture and community of mathematical expertise that solidified NSA's cryptanalytic preeminence and extended it to include top academic minds in the country. He created programs that brought gifted mathematics students to NSA for sabbaticals and internships.

When large-scale networking was in its infancy, Mr. Proto anticipated cyberspace as a battleground for national defense. He championed efforts to understand emerging threats and develop strategies for dealing with them. To these ends, he created the Applied Mathematics Program to train mathematicians to apply their knowledge to a range of problems beyond the traditional cryptologic mission. He also created the Laboratory for Telecommunications Sciences to focus resources on mastering network technology.

Mr. Proto authored 28 technical papers at NSA. He was responsible for the invention of several information security devices, two of which were patented in his name.

Richard Proto retired in 1999 as Chief of Research and Advanced Technology and passed away in 2008.