Bill Cheswick's Bio

Bill Cheswick logged into his first computer in 1968. He has been programming and working for (and against) computer security ever since.

After graduating from Lehigh University in 1975, he worked as a system programmer for several years. He first connected to ARPAnet in 1985, and joined Bell Labs in 1987.

At Bell Labs he worked on early firewall designs, especially application-level gateways. His first firewall paper described a circuit-level gateway that predated SOCKS by several years, and coined the word “proxy” as it is currently used. The popular Berferd paper was an early exploration of honeypots—that paper first used jail in its current software usage. With Steve Bellovin, Ches set up one of the first “packet telescopes” which captured and analyzed stray Internet packets. They wrote and patented the first DNS proxy.

Steve and Ches published Firewalls and Internet Security: Repelling the Wily Hacker in 1994. This was the first full book on the subject, and sold over 100,000 copies in a dozen languages. This book trained a generation of new security experts. The second edition was published in 2003 with the help of Avi Rubin.

Ches worked on corporate and Internet mapping in the late 1990s with Hal Burch, creating dramatic and popular Internet maps that still appear in publications and talks today. He used this mapping technology to explore wartime damage in Serbia in 1999, and other connectivity questions since then.

In 2000, he left Bell Labs and co-founded Lumeta to commercialize the mapping technology. These products have been useful in exploring and auditing government and corporate networks. In 2006 he left Lumeta and joined AT&T Shannon Lab where he worked on security, visualization, and user interfaces. He earned several patents (now over a dozen) in visualization and authentication, including a new way to see a movie, and slow movies. He left AT&T in 2012.

Ches has a wide interest in science and medicine. In his spare time he reads technical journals, hacks his home, consults, flies drones, experiments with iOS apps, develops exhibit software for science museums, and hangs out with students at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ches continues giving popular keynote talks around the world, having set foot in some three dozen countries over the past 25 years. Alas, he eats very plain food—boring by even American standards.

He couldn't have done most of this without the help of his wife of over thirty years, Lorette, who often travels with him. He has two grown children who are a little warped from growing up in a house inhabited by übergeeks.