Niels Provos
NationalityGerman and American
Alma materUniversität Hamburg, M.S Mathematics (1998)
University of Michigan, Ph.D. Computer Science (2003)
Known forOpenBSD, OpenSSH, Bcrypt, Safe Browsing
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Security
Doctoral advisorPeter Honeyman

Niels Provos is a German-American researcher in security engineering, malware,[1] and cryptography. He received a PhD in computer science from the University of Michigan.[2] From 2003 to 2018, he worked at Google as a Distinguished Engineer on security for Google.[3][4] In 2018, he left Google to join Stripe as its new head of security.[5] In 2022, Provos left Stripe and joined Lacework as head of Security Efficacy.

For many years, Provos contributed to the OpenBSD operating system, where he developed the bcrypt adaptive cryptographic hash function. He is the author of numerous software packages, including the libevent event driven programming system, the Systrace access control system, the honeyd honeypot system, the StegDetect steganography detector, the Bcrypt password encryption technique, and many others.

Provos has been an outspoken critic of the effect of the DMCA and similar laws on security researchers, arguing that they threaten to make criminals of people conducting legitimate security research.[6]

Provos has also served as the Program Chair of the Usenix Security Symposium, on the program committees of the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium, ACM SIGCOMM, and numerous other conferences, and served on the board of directors of Usenix from 2006 to 2010.

Blending his professional interests and creative pursuits, Provos has also started producing security-themed Electronic Dance Music (EDM) tracks under his artist name Activ8te. He embarked on this musical endeavor with the aim of garnering more interest in the field of security.[7][8]

Provos's hobbies also include swordsmithing, and he has forged swords in both Japanese and Viking styles. It started with his father collecting sabres. Niels routinely posts videos of his blacksmithing activities online.[9][10] By his words "At work, we try to fight the bad guys and make the world safer for our users. And swords are maybe an expression in a similar way. You create weapons to defend yourself against the hordes of barbarians."[11]


Selected publications


  1. ^ Mills, Elinor. "Google's Niels Provos battles malware on the Web". CNET. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  2. ^ Provos, Niels. "Provos' official web page". Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  3. ^ "Google Research Page on Provos". Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Niels Provos on Twitter". Retrieved 9 October 2018. After 15 years working on Security, I am saying Goodbye to @Google today.
  5. ^ "Stripe hires Niels Provos away from Google to be its new head of security". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  6. ^ Poulsen, Kevin. "'Super-DMCA' fears suppress security research". SecurityFocus. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  7. ^ Newman, Lily Hay. "A Popular Password Hashing Algorithm Starts Its Long Goodbye". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2023-07-22.
  8. ^ Sunkel, Cameron (2023-06-02). "This Cybersecurity Expert Is Making Electronic Music to Help People Fortify Their Digital Identities". - The Latest Electronic Dance Music News, Reviews & Artists. Retrieved 2023-07-22.
  9. ^ "Provos' Youtube channel for his swordsmithing videos". YouTube. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  10. ^ McMillan, Robert. "World's Most Wired Swordsmith". Wired. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Swordsmith Keeps Google Safe From Barbaric Hordes". WIRED.