In an extensive profile on Marlinspike, The Wall Street Journal details how an encryption program he wrote was so robust, simple, and efficient that WhatsApp — one of the more popular messaging apps on the planet — “made it a standard feature for many of the app’s 800 million users.”
While he may appear to be like any other dreadlocked dude you might see at a Grateful Dead concert, don’t let the hairstyle fool you. He’s the real deal, having formerly served as the head of Twitter’s security team.
In a research paper released Tuesday, 15 prominent technologists cited three programs relying on Mr. Marlinspike’s code as options for shielding communications.
His encrypted texting and calling app, Signal, has come up in White House meetings, says an attendee. Speaking via video link last year as part of a panel on surveillance, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked troves of U.S. spying secrets, urged listeners to use “anything” that Mr. Marlinspike releases.
All the more impressive, the report relays an anecdote detailing how a Johns Hopkins University cryptography class examined Marlinspike’s code only to find that there were no errors to be found. Anywhere.
In typical coder fashion, Marlinspike is extremely private. We don’t know his age or much else about him aside from his elegant code. And while the ultimate functionality of what Marlinspike’s accomplishes may not be new in and of itself, his code stands out because it’s extremely easy to use.