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NSA Historical Figures

David Boak

2010 Hall of Honor Inductee

David Boak was a communications security (COMSEC) professional who developed new schemes for determining the strength of cryptographic equipment, but he was particularly known for his publications. Most prominent among these is his series of lectures on Communications Security, known as the "Boak Papers," a collected work often compared in its scope and influence with William Friedman's famous lectures on communications intelligence (COMINT). A reprint of one of his writings came to the attention of the National Defense University, which incorporated it into current coursework.

Mr. Boak's basic principles in determining the strength of cryptographic equipment are still used today. His tenets directly and significantly contributed to how prospective secure communications are tested and evaluated. His impact in adding practical security features to existing systems was particularly significant in the Vietnam War and should be considered an important factor in saving American lives in combat. Mr. Boak was also an important figure in developing stringent standards for security in nuclear command and control.

Immediately after World War II, Mr. Boak quickly became an expert on COMSEC, a predecessor to Information Assurance, and proposed core changes to COMSEC doctrine that greatly improved the security of communications equipment.

While serving as commandant of the National Cryptologic School, Mr. Boak presided over the school's expansion. He improved the scope and quality of instruction by promoting new methods of delivering training that took advantage of emerging technologies.

As an enlisted man in the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, David Boak made two combat parachute jumps: one in France, and one in China. His subsequent work at NSA protected his country and the lives of those engaged in direct combat.

Mr. Boak retired from NSA in 1986 and died in Annapolis on April 9, 2006.