In Memory of Fred Piper, RIP

Prof Bill Buchanan OBE FRSE
2 min readMar 12, 2024

I am so sorry to hear about the passing of the mighty Fred Piper. When I was the external examiner at Royal Holloway, University of London, I always remember travelling down, and where there would always be a long line of dignitaries waiting to meet him. How he was never awarded an OBE, or even a Knighthood, is beyond me, and where the cybersecurity community should admit that it missed the boat on awarding him the acknowledgement he deserved. I feel bad that I did not help this cause, too. With his cool long hair and love of maths, he was the type of professor that inspired others.

After founding the Information Security Group (ISG) at Royal Holloway, in 1990, he basically, almost single-handedly, started the cybersecurity profession in the UK. For this he was a founder of the IISP (now CIISec), and only recently stepped down from being the chair of CIISec after 17 years. Overall, he has made an extraordinary contribution to the Infosec profession and education (typically known as Cybersecurity). His passion was cryptography, and many people got into the area through his work [here]:

and his research work:

We actually hosted him here a few years ago, and the tickets sold out in hours, and the comment was, “He could lecture on the bus timetable, and it would still sound interesting”. He was an inspiration to me and many others, and the field of cryptography (and cybersecurity) has lost a great guiding light.

I used to bump into him at CRESTCon and IISP Congress conferences and had such a great time talking crypto. He also helped GCHQ develop the cybersecurity profession through the IISP. As cybersecurity professionals, we owe a great deal to him for advancing our profession. This was one event that we both attended:

The UK is a strong and secure place due to people like Fred. We should prize our great teachers and our great mentors and the legacy they leave our world — their students, their ideas, and their vision.

RIP, Fred … you laid the foundation for us to build on. Our world needs great leaders, teachers and mentors.



Prof Bill Buchanan OBE FRSE

Professor of Cryptography. Serial innovator. Believer in fairness, justice & freedom. Based in Edinburgh. Old World Breaker. New World Creator. Building trust.