Learn Cryptography for free

Cryptography is one of the most important cybersecurity tools for securing communications. If you’re looking to learn cryptography basics, this free lesson is the perfect place to start.

Why learn cryptography

with Flatiron School?

Explore your future in cryptography

Our cryptography lessons are a great way to determine if learning cybersecurity is right for you. Discover whether you’re passionate about pursuing a cyber career, or if you just want to learn a new skill.


Prepare for a cybersecurity bootcamp

This is the quickest way to get hands-on experience with the fundamentals you’ll need to get into our immersive Cybersecurity Engineering course.

What you’ll learn:

Our free Introduction to Cryptography for beginners teaches you the basics behind cryptography, cryptology, cryptanalysis, cryptocurrency, and encryption to give you a broad views of how they work together to protect critical information every day.


Other free cybersecurity lessons at Flatiron School

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Intro to Virtualization

Learn about virtualization technology and how it enhances information security.

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How to prevent phishing

If you use email, you’ve experienced phishing. Learn about its many forms and how to protect yourself.

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Understanding IoT Security

Learn about the Internet of Things and how WiFi-enabled devices can leave you vulnerable.

Frequently asked questions about learning cryptography

Cryptography is the practice of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties called adversaries. More generally, cryptography is about constructing and analyzing protocols that prevent third parties or the public from reading private messages.

Two other forms of crypto are cryptology and cryptanalysis: Cryptology is the study of writing codes and ciphers, and cryptanalysis is the process of deciphering a code without the key.

We use cryptography to ensure the privacy of information we send and access to those who require and are authorized to have access.

Methods of encryption will depend on the medium through which you are going to transmit the data. When encrypting data for transmission over a computer network, there are two general types of cryptography: symmetric and asymmetric. Asymmetric cryptography is more secure than symmetric and is more frequently used.

Cryptography is frequently used when sending information to other people or organizations through online devices. For example, cryptography is used when securing your credit card information during an online purchase. Cryptography can also be used when sending messages by hand, as well.

While any cybersecurity career will include some exposure to cryptography, some positions will deal with it more directly than others. The more technology advances, the more it will need to be secured, and cryptography will be an important part of a cybersecurity career. Thorough knowledge of cryptography can improve job security and stability.

If you’re considering a career in cryptography, read more about how to get into cybersecurity.

Most cryptography is done automatically by computers these days, however, there are still a few industries or areas of cyber that will deal in manual cryptography. In our program, we focus more on understanding the types of math that are done, as opposed to making you do the math.

In asymmetric encryption (also called public-key encryption), there are two keys: a private key and a public key. One key is used for encryption, and the other is used for decryption. The decryption key is kept private (“private key”), while the encryption key is shared publicly for anyone to use (“public key”).

An understanding of how computers communicate securely with each other is an important topic for everyone to know. The creation of secure networks and the use of reliable encryption methods is going to be more relevant to cybersecurity engineers, but analysts may well find themselves concerned with decryption activities.

Cryptography is a big part of cybersecurity — think encryption and information authentication — but cybersecurity engineers only need to be familiar with cryptography basics as opposed to its intricacies. The standard practice for a cybersecurity engineer or developer is to use pre-built cryptography libraries.

The fundamentals — parts of which are covered in this cryptography tutorial — are absolutely necessary for anyone in cybersecurity, though.

Learn more about other skills you need to get into cybersecurity.

Yes, Introduction to Cryptography is entirely free, just like the rest of our lessons and tutorials.

If you’re interested in learning cryptography online for free, this tutorial and labs are a great place to start your education.