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Basics of Cryptography

Cryptography is a critical aspect of cyber security, essential for ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of data exchanged across digital networks. It involves the use of mathematical algorithms and techniques to encrypt and decrypt data, making it almost impossible for unauthorized users to access or modify the information.

Types of Cryptography

There are three main types of cryptography in the context of cyber security:

  • Symmetric cryptography: In this method, the same key, known as a secret key, is used to encrypt and decrypt the data. Examples of symmetric encryption algorithms include AES, DES, and Blowfish.

  • Asymmetric cryptography: This approach uses two keys, known as a public key and a private key, for encryption and decryption. Data encrypted with one key can only be decrypted with the other key. Examples of asymmetric encryption algorithms include RSA, ECC, and ElGamal.

  • Hash functions: These are cryptographic algorithms that produce a fixed-size output (usually called a hash or digest) from an input of any size, ensuring the integrity of data. A small change in the input data leads to a significant change in the output hash. Examples of widely used hash functions include SHA-256, MD5, and RIPEMD-160.

Cryptographic Protocols

Various cryptographic protocols define how cryptographic algorithms are applied to data and how the data is securely exchanged between different parties. Some of the most common protocols include:

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS): These protocols are used to provide encrypted communication over the internet. TLS, the successor to SSL, is widely used for secure web browsing, email, and other data exchanges.

  • Secure Shell (SSH): SSH is a protocol that allows secure login to remote machines and the encrypted transfer of data between systems.

  • Pretty Good Privacy (PGP): PGP is a protocol used for encrypting and digitally signing messages, providing confidentiality and authenticity in digital communication.

Key Management

Proper key management is crucial to maintain the security of encrypted data. Key management involves the creation, distribution, storage, and disposal of cryptographic keys. It is essential to ensure that keys are securely distributed, regularly updated, and stored in secure locations to prevent unauthorized access.


Cryptanalysis is the process of attempting to break cryptographic systems, often by exploiting weaknesses in the algorithms, protocols, or key management processes. The strength of a cryptographic system lies in its resistance to cryptanalysis. As a cyber security professional, understanding cryptanalysis techniques can help you identify and protect against potential vulnerabilities in your organization’s cryptographic infrastructure.

In conclusion, cryptography is a fundamental aspect of cyber security, offering a layer of protection for sensitive data in digital networks. To effectively implement cryptography in your organization, you should be familiar with the various types of cryptography, cryptographic protocols, and key management best practices, and understand the potential threats posed by cryptanalysis.

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