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NSA Historical Figures

Ronald Hunt

2012 Hall of Honor Inductee

Ronald Hunt earned a record of significant achievement in cryptanalytic diagnosis. He expanded decryption capabilities and successfully diagnosed many difficult, thought-to-be intractable, cryptologic problems. He had five primary successes, any one of which would have made a brilliant career, but which collectively made him a "giant" in his field.

In his career as a cryptanalyst and crypto-mathematician, he dealt with the complexities of determining encryption algorithms used by targets, and designing cryptanalytic attacks to exploit cipher and produce intelligence. He also developed special-purpose software to reduce the manpower involved in daily exploitation.

From the early 1970s, Mr. Hunt tackled the most difficult cryptanalytic challenges. In addition to analysis of sophisticated systems, he recognized the flaws in some special-purpose analytic tools, allowing them to be redesigned for increased effectiveness. This resulted in consistent production of actionable intelligence on very high-interest targets. Soon, he progressed from analysis of existing analytic tools to their original design. Mr. Hunt demonstrated his versatility with successes in analysis and development of analytic tools against a wide variety of targets around the world.

A former senior manager of cryptanalysts commented, "Whenever he (Mr. Hunt) decided it was time to put forward his thoughts, you knew it was time to listen hard. He has deep intellectual honesty that is critical to diagnosis…. He could somehow sort out all the relevant facts from the chaff, kept them all in his head, and through incredible mental ability made sense out of them."