We created the O’Reilly Defender Awards to acknowledge and celebrate defensive security heroes. The awards are an opportunity to recognize individual contributors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, creativity, and collaboration in the defensive security field. With the inaugural O’Reilly Defender awards, we wanted to highlight the breadth and heterogeneity of the people in this community. To that end, we chose a researcher, a defender, and a project as our recipients.

Individual Researcher Award: Ross J. Anderson

Our first award goes to Ross J. Anderson, professor of Security Engineering at the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. Professor Anderson has been a tireless security researcher and advocate for the interests of consumers and end-users of modern technologies, providing the industry with keen insights into how systems are being manipulated, defrauded, and exploited. Defenders benefit from his dedication to re-examine every threat model, understand underlying incentives, and shine a bright light into the darker corners of consumer-facing tech and online services. Especially valuable is not only the prolific body of research we have available from Professor Anderson, but also his leadership and mentoring, which has yielded an entire community of insightful, inventive, and pragmatic researchers spanning boundaries across the academic and commercial worlds.

Individual Defender Award: Zeynep Tufekci

The second award highlights the broad nature of what it means to be a defender. Zeynep Tufekci is an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with an affiliate appointment at the Department of Sociology. She is also a faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and was previously a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. Tufekci’s research interests revolve around the intersection of technology and society. Her academic work focuses on social movements and civics, privacy and surveillance, and social interaction. She is also a prolific writer, increasingly known for her work on big data and algorithmic decision making, calling into question whether current practices are outsourcing our moral obligations.

Project Defender Award: The Shoulders of InfoSec

The final award goes to a community-driven project led by the inimitable Jack Daniel. The Shoulders of InfoSec Project is an effort to identify and celebrate the contributions of InfoSec leaders whose contributions have shaped technology and industry. This project is dedicated to shining a light on contributions, and notably, bringing our unsung heroes into the spotlight. Initially focusing on early contributors to the field, the project will continue to grow with community support. At a high level, this is the community coming together to create a record of people on whose shoulders we stand in this creative, collaborative discipline. It’s worth noting that the project’s organizers are still looking for contributors, so please take a look and see if there’s anyone you’d want to nominate for addition to the project.


This is a presentation from the O'Reilly Security Conference in New York 2016. See highlights from the event and watch full sessions and keynotes.

Article image: A Roman trophy. Coloured engraving, ca. 1804-1811. (source: Wellcome Images on Wikimedia Commons).