$1.5M from Sovereign Tech Fund to Fuel Memory Safety

Sarah Gran
Jul 11, 2023

Sovereign Tech Fund will be supporting three Prossimo initiatives over the next 18 months with work contracts totaling $1.5M. This is the largest single contract Prossimo has received to date. This funding enables our continued work with the wonderful maintainers, developers, and funders who have helped us make such great progress so far.

Sovereign Tech Fund logo


This funding supports the development of both foundational features and general improvements. Rustls is well-positioned to replace OpenSSL in many scenarios and our work will make it more appealing for a wider user base.  For example, in 2023 we plan to:

  • Enable pluggable cryptographic back-ends

  • Add the option to rely on OS trust verifier platforms

  • Develop a comprehensive performance benchmarking system

  • Change the default cryptographic library to one that is FIPS certified


We will continue work to port the C code in the dav1d AV1 video and image decoder to Rust. We expect that rav1d will be ready for initial users in early 2024. Codecs have a long history of memory safety problems so we are excited to build one in a memory safe language just as more companies are making the switch from other media types to AV1.


We will accelerate the development and maturation of a high-potential DNS resolver. It will be highly performant, open source, memory safe, and fully recursive. Let's Encrypt, a sibling project of Prossimo also run by ISRG, will be one of the first large-scale deployments.

There is strong alignment between the work of Prossimo and the goal of the Sovereign Tech Fund, which is to strengthen digital infrastructure and open source ecosystems in the public interest. Fiona Krakenbürger, co-founder of the Sovereign Tech Fund, commented "The memory safety work that the Internet Security Research Group does with Prossimo is absolutely essential. It exemplifies the digital infrastructure and open source ecosystem the Sovereign Tech Fund wants to support. By investing in making TLS, the AV1 media decoder, and a DNS resolver more secure, we're acting in the public interest by improving the security of everyone using the internet, from individuals to companies and governments. Together, we're safeguarding our shared digital infrastructure for the common good."

Since Prossimo only focuses on critical infrastructure that is widely used, our work can have a broad impact across a large number of people using the internet (even if those people never know it!). This approach helps us do the most good with our resources.

We applaud the Sovereign Tech Fund and the German government for recognizing the connection between strong, well-supported digital infrastructure and innovation and economic growth (the fund is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action).

With better and more secure tools, people, companies, and institutions can focus more on the task at hand. We hope to see more public and private organizations who rely on open source critical digital infrastructure to step up and support it. If you or your organization would like to come on board as a funder of Prossimo, we would be excited to begin a conversation with you at donate@abetterinternet.org.