Encouraging information security research for the real world

Paypal co-founder Max Levchin announces cryptography prize during visit to SEAS

Paypal co-founder Max Levchin announced the launch of a new cryptography prize during a visit to SEAS on Sept. 18. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell.)

Could the creator of the next great information security innovation be a student at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS)?

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin thinks that’s a possibility. He visited SEAS on Sept. 18 to announce the establishment of the Levchin Prize for Real World Cryptography, an award that will be presented annually to two individuals who make major advances in cryptography that are relevant to real-world problems. Cryptography is the study of securing communications.

The inaugural awards will be presented at the 2016 Real World Cryptography Conference, to be held in Stanford, Calif., in January. The members of the conference steering committee will select the winners, each of whom will receive a $10,000 prize.

“More than anything, this award is about attracting attention to the field and pointing out that cryptography is very special in and of itself,” said Levchin. “It is not just math. It is not just computer science. It is a lot more.”

Open to everyone, the award is aimed at encouraging younger researchers – especially students – to think about how cryptographic principles can be applied to improve currently flawed systems, Levchin said.

In addition to announcing the prize, Levchin addressed several student groups during his visit to SEAS, including Women in Computer Science and Developers for Development, and met with Dean Francis J. Doyle III. He also held an open pitch session at the Innovation Lab, where teams of students from across Harvard shared their entrepreneurial ideas related to consumer finance and security.

Press Contact

Adam Zewe | 617-496-5878 |