Are you interested in the “behind the scenes” of what keeps online information secure? This may be the area of focus for you. Cryptography is the set of techniques and tools used to secure information and communication from third-party threats or adversaries. Computer science, mathematics, and sometimes physics are used together in this field.
The word “cryptography” stems from the Greek word “kryptos” meaning hidden, and “graphein” which means writing. Cryptography encrypts data, information, and messages so that only the intended recipients can access them without third party interference. The information is encrypted into something that is not readable, then sent to the intended recipient and decrypted so that the user can read the information. With technology continuing to advance and the increased use of digital data via the internet and the cloud, security data and information through cryptography is essential.
There are three types of cryptography: hash functions, secret (symmetric) key cryptography, and public (asymmetric) key cryptography. They all rely heavily on mathematical functions and algorithms. Secret and public key cryptography are types of encrypting and decrypting processes. In contrast, hashing involves storing data, often passwords, into hash tables and is not reversible like key cryptography. Secret or symmetric key cryptography uses the same secret key by the sender and receiver. This makes it quicker than asymmetric or public keys that require a different key for the sender and user. Asymmetric keys are, however, considered more secure but are not ideal for large messages because extensive math must be performed for the encrypting and decrypting. Cryptographers must know which technique is best used to secure specific types of data and information as well as how to effectively employ the different types of cryptography.
While many fields utilize cryptography, some specific careers include security engineers and analysts, information security specialists, cybersecurity specialists and engineers, cryptography security analysts, cryptograph engineers, and cryptographers. The level of cryptography needed may vary by position, but these fields generally require some level of understanding of these practices.
Cryptography is used in daily life in a variety of areas. Some examples of these techniques being employed include time stamping, digital signatures, authentication, and electronic money. Other examples include encryption and decryption of emails, encryption on applications such as Instagram, and SIM card authentication.
Companies in all industries need specialists in cryptography to ensure that data they share is safe on their platforms. Professionals work to design security plans and protocols, activate the plan, and update it as necessary. Cryptology specialists are used to protect information and data from cyber attacks, corporate espionage, hacking, and more. Medical records, financial data, credit card and banking information passwords, personal information, and more are kept safe by cryptography techniques. While the private sector looks for professionals who know cryptography, the military and government agencies. Many of these jobs require special security clearance.
Most employers require cryptographic professionals to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, cybersecurity, or another related field. Many professionals then go on to earn a master’s degree in cybersecurity or computer science. The most successful and in-demand cryptographers are proficient in the techniques involved as well as security protocols and programming.
If you are looking to add this skill to your tool box, it is possible to learn the basics of cryptography on your own. Resources such as books on the topic, online courses, and online tutorials are great ways to begin. Some of the online courses do require an understanding of prerequisites such as security protocols and programming languages like Python. The EC-Council is another resource that offers a Certified Encryption Specialist certification and focuses on cryptography throughout the course and certification process.
If you would rather have a more structured learning environment, teacher-led courses and bootcamps are great ways to learn this skill online or in-person with guidance and collaboration. Some bootcamps also offer cybersecurity certifications that can help you transition into a field involving cryptography. Bootcamps can also help you find internships and job opportunities and assist in preparing for interviews with resume help and networking opportunities.
Do you think a bootcamp may be right for you? Listed below are bootcamps that offer cryptography in their curriculums so you can find the best one to fit your specific needs and timeline.