Network Security

Hal Tipton dies at 89; fathered the CISSP certification

Updated March 13, 9 a.m. EST

Harold Tipton, sometimes referred to as the “George Washington of information security,” died on Friday. He was 89.

Known as "Hal," Tipton co-founded (ISC)², the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, in 1989. The organization, which trains and certifies information security professionals, gave birth to the CISSP certification, considered the bedrock credential for the IT security professional.

Tipton became (ISC)²'s president. For the past 20 years, he had been chief instructor at (ISC)², training CISSP seminar instructors, and an independent consultant. He also had been the first director of computer security at the now-defunct manufacturing giant Rockwell International, serving 15 years before his retirement in 1994.

A statement posted Monday on the (ISC)² website announcing Tipton's passing, stated: "His career had an immeasurably positive impact on thousands of infosec professionals around the world, encompassing 35 years of passionate, selfless dedication to the information security profession and furthering the (ISC)² mission."

Tipton was an avid volunteer, as well. According to published reports, Tipton was a member of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) since 1982. He served as president of the Los Angeles chapter in 1984 and the president of the national organization of ISSA from 1987 to 1989. He was added to the ISSA Hall of Fame and the ISSA Honor Role in 2000.

Tipton was a member of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the Computer and Telecommunications Security Council, and the National Research Council Secure Systems Study Committee (for the National Academy of Sciences).

Tipton, who is not related to W. Hord Tipton, the current executive director of (ISC)², also served for a number of years on SC Magazine's editorial advisory board.

He received the Computer Security Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, and the (ISC)² Founders Award in 2009.

He was the first recipient of the Harold F. Tipton Lifetime Achievement Award, an (ISC)²  decoration that recognizes lifelong contributions to the advancement of the information security profession.

"We named the award after Hal for his vision and leadership in founding the information security profession and to recognize him for his unselfish service and training of new generations of information security professionals," James Duffy, managing director and chief operating officer for (ISC)², said in February 2001.

A resident of Villa Park, Calif., Tipton received a bachelor's degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master's in personnel administration from George Washington University.

"As a former ISSA International president and one of the founders of (ISC)², Hal had a profound impact on our association, our global community and our profession," Kevin Richards, president of the nonprofit Information Systems Security Association, wrote in a statement posted Monday on the organization's website. "Through his tireless efforts, his dedication to our community, and lasting elements, such as his book, the Information Security Management Handbook, Hal's legacy has been imprinted on a great many areas within our profession."

Other tributes are beginning to appear as well. In an email message to, Ben Rothke, manager, information security - risk assessment at hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide, wrote: “In a society that celebrates personalities who are famous for just being famous, Hal Tipton served as a counterpoint, as someone who quietly made tremendous contributions that benefitted many. A man of depth, substance and morals, Hal would prefer to stay behind the scenes than to grab the spotlight for himself. Hal was a very noble person, the world is a better place because of him, and he will be missed.”

Another CISSP, Dean Bushmiller of Expanding Security, a firm that trains management and information security professionals, sent the following message to "When I am working on a new security presentation I ask myself WWHS – What Would Hal Say, and then I would call him. I am really sad that I cannot call him anymore. He was the voice of moderation and reason. He would listen, pause and make a simple statement that brought me back to the basics of confidentiality, integrity, and availability. I have had great conversations with Hal about information security, about what it means to keep the mission on track."

Friends and professional associates are invited to share memories on the (ISC)² blog and in the Intersec community.

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