Words from the Incoming IETF Chair

By: Russ Housley

Date: May 7, 2007

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At IETF 68, I was honoured to accept the position of IETF chair. I have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before me:

2005 – 2007 Brian Carpenter
2001 – 2005 Harald Alvestrand
1996 – 2001 Fred Baker
1994 – 1996 Paul Mockapetris
1986 – 1994 Phillip Gross
1986 Michael Corrigan

The mission of the IETF is to make the Internet work better. However, no one is “in charge” of the Internet. Instead, many people cooperate to make it work. Each person offers a unique perspective of the Internet, and such diversity of perspective sometimes makes it difficult to reach consensus. Yet once consensus has been achieved, the outcome is better, clearer, and more strongly supported than the initial position of any one participant.


As Security Area director, my focus was on the continuous incremental improvement of the security of the Internet. My focus as IETF chair must be broader. I will focus on continuous incremental improvement of all aspects of the Internet, as well as on continuous incremental improvement of the IETF standards development process.

I look forward to IETF 69 in Chicago on 22 – 27 July 2007 and to IETF 70 in Vancouver, Canada, on 2-7 December 2007. Scheduling information for the next IETF meetings may always be found I hope to see you there.

As a longtime researcher and as founder of Vigil Security, LLC, in Herndon, Virginia, Russ Housley is no stranger to Internet security or the standards-development process. As the new IETF chair, Russ brings 25 years’ experience in security protocols, certificate management, cryptographic key distribution, and high-assurance design and development practices. Prior to accepting the IETF chair position, Russ served as Security Area director, and prior to that he chaired the Secure MIME (S/MIME) working group. His past work experiences include positions with the Air Force Data Services Center (AFDSC), Xerox Special Information Systems (XSIS), SPYRUS, and RSA Laboratories.

Russ served as editor for several cornerstone Internet public key infrastructure (PKI) standards, including RFC 3280. In November 2004, Russ was recognised by the IEEE 802.11 working group for his contributions to IEEE 802.11i-2004, which fixes the severe security shortcoming of the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). He is co-author of Planning for PKI: Best Practices Guide for Deploying Public Key Infrastructure (John Wiley & Sons, 2001) and is listed as an author on 36 RFCs. Russ received a B.S. in computer science from Virginia Tech in 1982 and an M.S. in computer science from George Mason University in 1992.