Learn Cryptography: 6 Best Online Courses 2021 For Coders

Since the reign of Julius Caesar in 100 BC, people have used cryptography to keep things secure, and thanks to online learning, we have the chance to explore it on our own. Cryptography is now essential to digital security, and many are turning to online cryptography courses to teach them these in-demand skills.

You may be picturing yourself as Matthew Broderick from War Games or Angelina Jolie and her iconic pixie cut from Hackers, using your keyboard to hack dangerous systems — and in some cases, that’s how cryptography works. While cryptography can teach you how to hack, it can also teach you about blockchain technology, authentication, and how to achieve data confidentiality and integrity.

Learning cryptography gives you a better understating of how security works online and gives you the tools to strengthen your information security.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity, software engineering, cryptocurrency, or just want to make yourself safer online, then this article is for you. Join us as we cover the best online cryptography courses, and show their strengths, syllabus, course layout, and who they benefit.

What Makes a Great Cryptography Course?

The world of work changes every day, and online courses let us train for cutting-edge tech jobs that weren’t around when many of us were first building our careers. But because of this, it’s important to get hands-on experience where you can to improve your skills.

That’s why we recommend courses that teach learning by doing.

Look for courses that allow you to practice encryptions and other forms of cryptography while you complete the course. This not only helps you retain the information better, but it allows you to move on from the course with reputable experience.

We understand everyone learns differently, so along with recommending the best online cryptography courses that are interactive, we’ve also included lecture-based online cryptography courses, so you can choose the course that works best for you!

1. Qvault – Overall Best Cryptography Course

Why it’s the best cryptography course

  • Interactive, hands-on cryptography exercises to learn by doing
  • In-depth teaching of major cryptographic systems

Cons

  • Some may prefer a lecture-focused format rather than interactive

Qvault understand how key cryptography skills are to companies — and the high salaries those skills command. Their Practical Cryptography computer science course is tailored to developers with a cryptography-sized hole in their coding arsenal, and who want to learn the fundamentals behind security.

This cryptography course teaches you how to build secure digital systems, as well as help you gain the skills that’ll make you very employable to security-focused organizations.

The course begins with an overview of cryptography and its definitions and use-cases, covering encryption vs encoding, brute force attacks, and more. Then you move on to the main parts of the cryptography course, including stream ciphers, block ciphers, and hash functions, each with a range of subsections detailing each area of cryptography.

Qvault’s online cryptography course is written in Go, an increasingly used language for backend and security systems, so we recommend taking Qvault’s excellent Go Mastery courses first if you’re new to Golang.

See also: our ranking of the best Go courses.

The course features a range of hands-on and interactive cryptography exercises, as well as multiple-choice questions to shore up your knowledge of security.

Overall, it’s the most cohesive and best cryptography course for coders looking to supercharge their earnings and learn cryptography skills.

  • Tip: Qvault also publish detailed blogs on cryptography and other areas to learn more for free. We recommend checking their complete guide to SHA-256.
qvault practical cryptography course

2. Coursera – Good Online Cryptography Courses for Professionals

Pros

  • University accredited courses
  • Enroll for free

Cons

  • Lecture-based
  • Have to pay for certification and access to features

Coursera is known for its university-backed courses, and their online cryptography course is no different.

The Stanford Cryptography I course is the first of two courses you can take offered by Stanford University. You enroll for free and then pay for the certification, giving you access to graded work and a certificate that’s shareable to LinkedIn, your résumé, and your portfolio.

Coursera's online cryptography course

You can start the course at any time, and it takes seven weeks and approximately 23 hours to complete. The weekly lecture-based lessons feature multiple videos, each varying between 5 to 30 minutes, and take 4 to 5 hours to complete.

The cryptography course starts with going through the basic history of cryptography, and then each week you’ll work through ciphers, authenticated and public-key encryptions, and learn how to set up keys. However, the only interactive aspect is the final exam you take at the end of the seven weeks.

There’s also the Introduction to Applied Cryptography Specialization taught by the University of Colorado. Like the course above, you enroll for free and then pay for access to graded work and a certificate.

Another cryptography specialization on Coursera

This is a four-course specialization in cryptography. To complete the whole specialization, it takes around 4 months at 3 hours of study time per week. You can start at any time and you work through the course at your own pace.

The courses are as follows:

  • Course One: Go over core concepts surrounding cryptography
  • Course Two: Explore the mathematical principles and functions
  • Course Three: Learn about keys and symmetrical cryptography
  • Course Four: Finish with key management and asymmetrical cryptography

Each course has a learner’s project due at the end, but there’s no other form of cryptography practice. Then, when you complete the entire specialization, you’ll receive a certificate to share with your professional network.

Because these courses are accredited by universities and LinkedIn compatible, they are well suited for professionals looking to add certified skills to their résumés.

3. Udemy – Great Cryptography Crash Course

Pros

  • Master cryptography in one course
  • Lifetime access to the course

Cons

  • Not as in-depth as other courses

Udemy has helped thousands across multiple industries get access to career-changing online courses, and they can do the same for you.

Udemy is a middleman of sorts. It does not create courses, but instead allows individuals and companies to create courses. Then, they post it on Udemy, where users like us can purchase them. This is great for having access to a variety of courses, but also risky because anyone can post a course with outdated information.

But luckily, that’s not the case with Rune Thomsen’s bestselling Master Modern Security and Cryptography by Coding in Python course. Thomsen himself has a Ph.D. in computer science and has worked for years in software development.

Udemy's crash course in cryptography

The course is divided up into 12 sections and 73 lectures total and takes around 7.5 hours to complete. It does require two prerequisites, knowledge of Python and basic math, as you’ll complete cryptography coding exercises throughout on an external coding platform.

The first half of the course revolves around ciphers, the different principles, types, and their uses. The last half covers keys, encryptions, hash functions, and TLS/SSL protocol. In the end, you’ll be awarded a certificate of completion.

This course is for those looking for a fast lecture-based course on cryptography and already possess an understanding of its functions and Python.

4. Future Learn – Great Online Cryptography Course For Beginners

Pros

  • University accredited course
  • Learn from professors

Cons

  • Limited dates on when the course is running
  • Costs $199 a year

Future Learn, like Coursera, offers a range of university-taught courses, as well as career tracks and shorter courses.

Today, we’re going to highlight the Introduction to Cryptography course from Coventry University. This two-week course is taught by active professors at the university and requires 6 hours of study a week. 

Future Learn's beginner cryptography course

You’ll cover the mathematical concepts behind cryptography, ciphers, and hashing. In the end, a beginner should feel confident describing the concepts behind this science and applying cryptanalysis.

There are limitations on when you can take the course. Because it’s taught by a professor, and not recorded videos, you cannot take and complete the course on your schedule, instead you are dependent on the school’s availability.

It’s also lecture-based, instead of interactive, so for any practical cryptography coding experience you’ll need to go elsewhere, like Qvault’s courses.

Regardless, this course has excellent reviews and provides new learners the opportunity to understand how cryptography works in the modern world and preps them for taking more advanced classes on Future Learn.

5. LinkedIn ­– Most Convenient Online Cryptography Course

Pros

  • Located on a familiar platform, no extra logins
  • Easy to add to your professional profile

Cons

  • No cohesive learning programs

If you’re a working professional, there’s a good chance you have a LinkedIn and probably been prompted to try their LinkedIn Learning.

LinkedIn Learning courses are included in LinkedIn’s premium subscription, which comes with a free trial month, or you can buy the courses individually. Once you complete a course it goes straight to your profile, where other companies and professionals can see it. This is a fantastic tool for building your portfolio.

LinkedIn has a decent variety of cryptography courses that range from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours. Instead of one cohesive course that covers multiple aspects of cryptography, you take shorter smaller courses that focus on one specific component.

For instance, the Learning Cryptography and Network Security course is a 2-hour course that covers the history and basics in 6 chapters. Once completed, you can then take a course that covers a specific aspect of cryptography you’re most interested in, like their 2-hour Learning SSL/TLS course.  

LinkedIn's cryptography and network security course

The cryptography courses are strictly lecture-based, so there’s no opportunity to practice cryptographic coding, but they do have quizzes you’ll complete after each chapter. When you finish a course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion confirming your cryptographic conquest.

It’s convenient to be able to pick and choose which aspects of cryptography you want to focus on efficiently, but it can be tricky gaining the well-rounded knowledge necessary to work in the field. Overall, it’s an easy option for those looking to study specifics.

6. edX – Best Variety of Cryptography Courses

Pros

  • University accredited courses
  • Straightforward platform

Cons

  • Limited dates on when the course is running

EdX is the stripped-back version of Future Learn.

While Future Learn offers university-taught courses and full degrees, it also has career tracks, micro-credentials, and short courses. EdX does away with frills and offers a straightforward path towards either an online degree or free university courses.

They also offer courses from universities around the world, as opposed to Future Learn’s European focus.

There are multiple cryptography courses, but the one we want to focus on is the award-winning Unlocking Information Security I: From Cryptography to Buffer Overflows by Israel X and Tel Aviv University. This course is free to enroll in, but requires a ~$150 payment for the verified certificate.

edX online cryptography and buffer overflows course

The course lasts 5 weeks and requires around 4-6 hours of weekly study time. You start by learning basic terminology and famous design flaws in information security. Then you’ll move on to the history of cryptography, including ancient cryptography.

It ends with you being able to examine ciphers, hash functions, authentication (password and biometrics), and understand buffer overflow.

This course is strictly lecture-based, so there’s no opportunity to practice coding, but users praise it for effectively understanding the theory behind cryptography. And if this doesn’t sound like the right fit, then no worries! EdX also feature cryptography courses from tech giants like IBM and LinuxFoundationX, as well as other notable universities, like NYU and RIT.

The variety of providers make edX perfect for someone wanting to explore different courses, but if you want to get the crucial hands-on experience and learn by doing, it’s Qvault all the way.

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