Gerald Combs

ACM Software System Award

USA - 2018

Riverbed Technology


For creating the Wireshark network protocol analyzer, an essential tool for nearly anyone who designs, deploys, analyzes and troubleshoots the wide range of network protocols that tie the Internet together, and for continued leadership of the world-wide Wireshark developer community.

Wireshark is an open source network protocol analyzer developed by Gerald Combs that started in 1997 under the name Ethereal and quickly became the most commonly used system for visually analyzing network protocol traffic. There is virtually no one in the networking world who has not used Wireshark. Gerald Combs has continued to work on the code and to guide the open source community that has developed around the software over 20 years. Before the advent of Ethereal and Wireshark, protocol analyzers were expensive, dedicated pieces of hardware that were only available to large institutions. The creation of an open source network protocol analyzer democratized access to network protocol analysis and enabled people to learn about network protocols by being able to visualize the traffic on their own networks.

Gerald has put a significant effort into organizing a large, global development community that wanted a viable alternative to the current choice of protocol analyzers. Over the years the Wireshark team has continued to innovate, making it easy for new developers to add new protocols to the analyzer, a boon to those who were experimenting with new ideas in networking, and adding programming language support that made it easier to apply Wireshark to more advanced network investigation tools.

In addition, Wireshark has had significant influence in the areas of network engineering and cyber security. Engineers at equipment manufacturers, service providers, and end-user organizations rely on Wireshark in their daily work. They also work alongside security experts in financial institutions and other high-profile businesses making extensive use of Wireshark in their ongoing fight against cybercrime.

Gerald Combs, and the passionate community of developers he fostered, have helped bring a legitimate network protocol analyzer to our field. Ethereal and then Wireshark has become the de facto standard for network protocol analysis worldwide.

Press Release