ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award
United States – 2015

For the introduction and development of the concepts of Attribute-Based Encryption and Functional Encryption.

Waters is recognized for introducing the concepts of Attribute-Based Encryption and Functional Encryption which allow granting different forms of selective access to a plaintext message from its encrypted form. This is an important departure from traditional public-key encryption, where access to the encrypted data is all or nothing. Besides the theoretical value and the great following of his work in the cryptography community, the techniques he developed also had practical impact, having been incorporated in real systems.

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2015 Grace Murray Hopper Award Recognizes Brent Waters

Brent Waters, recipient of the Grace Murray Hopper Award for the introduction and development of the concepts of attribute-based encryption and functional encryption. Waters’ innovations enhance security efforts at a time when greater volumes of highly confidential data are moving to the cloud. Traditionally, public-key encryption makes use of a public key that targets ciphertexts to a specific user that holds one secret key. Waters’ introduction of attribute-based encryption presented a new design where an administrator can create a policy-specific decryption key that will enable decryption of only the underlying files that satisfy the policy. Functional encryption, as conceived by Waters, takes things further by allowing an administrator to create private keys that allow a decryptor to learn only a particular function of the encrypted data, thus limiting their view to what they need to know about the data. Waters is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been named a Sloan Fellow, a Packard Fellow and a Microsoft Faculty Fellow. His many additional honors include receiving the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

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