What is cryptography?
Cryptography is the encryption of secret or encoded communication. Cryptography in network security is most often the practice of encoding sensitive data to ensure that it is inaccessible to those without the necessary clearance to view it.
What is a cryptographer?
A cryptographer is tasked with developing algorithms used to encode sensitive information. As cyber criminals develop increasingly more sophisticated methods of invasion, cryptographers much continually monitor the state of a business’ encryption security and find new ways to keep invaders out when necessary.
The protection of personal data is vital to modern businesses so making sure client and company data is impenetrable is a significant part of any robust cyber security strategy.
What does a cryptographer do?
To be a cryptographer you will need a deep understanding of the theory and practice of encoding data and creating algorithms to keep data safe. You will most likely need an understanding of session authentication and communication protocols, an expert grasp on coding languages and experience in implementing encryption systems. You will be responsible for ensuring that all sensitive data the company handles are well protected at every point of interaction.
Some of the common tasks you’ll be expected to do:
- Tracking trends
You will be expected to keep up to date with the latest developments in the industry to ensure that your company’s data is as secure as possible. This will also allow you to pre-empt potential threats and produce strategies to avoid them.
- Identifying weaknesses
Your job will be to monitor the security of the business and identify any weaknesses in communication lines, preventing interception, unauthorised access or alteration of data and messages.
- Testing cryptological theories
When updating encryption systems, you will need to be able to test the theoretical capabilities of new cryptological systems in line with the company’s needs before they are rolled out.
- Implementing new systems and solutions across the business
Once tested, you will need to implement new cryptography techniques across the business. This will also involve supporting staff in other departments with learning the new processes and how they can use them to keep their data safe at all times.
- Training staff in the handling of encrypted data
All staff who handle sensitive data that you have been tasked with encrypting will need to be trained in data handling best practice. You will also be expected to assist them with developing robust data protection systems within their departments.
How much does a cryptographer make?
According to https://www.payscale.com the average cryptography salary UK is £65,000, with an average entry level salary standing at around £40,000. This is a highly specialist and vital role to any business so while pay will be high, expectation to excel will be just as high.
In the US, according to ZipRecruiter, the national average is $145,000 while the lower 5% of jobs offer salaries between $107,000 and $114,000.
Why is cryptography important?
Since cryptography encompasses such a diverse variety of data exchanges, including online transactions as well as internal data protection, it is a necessary part of most modern businesses. In a typical online sale, cryptographers are responsible for client data such as payment details being protected from order through to delivery.
What is the difference between cryptology and cryptography?
Cryptology is the study of creating and deciphering codes and forms the theoretical basis of the application of data encryption. Cryptography is the practice of developing and implementing encryption algorithms to encode communications and data.
How do you become a cryptographer?
Because of its highly technical nature, getting a job as a cryptographer will most likely require a degree in mathematics, computer science or computer engineering. Many cryptographers also study at a postgraduate level, specialising in cryptography to further develop their theoretical understanding of the practice.
You may be able to secure a job in cryptography without a degree but you must be able to demonstrate extensive practical experience and training qualifications.
If cryptography is a new role for you, demonstrating a number of years’ experience in similar cyber security roles along with knowledge of the key responsibilities of the job will be important to convey to recruiters.
What are the types of cryptography?
There are three types of encryption commonly used, each with their own specific uses.
- Secret Key Cryptography
- Public Key Cryptography
- Hash Functions
What are the objectives of cryptography?
The main objectives of cryptography are:
- Data integrity
This ensures that data is not altered in the exchange of messages or data between a business and its clients as well as between businesses.
This is necessary to protecting client data from vulnerability, retaining client trust and maintaining a business’ obligations to its stakeholders.
Encryption at the point of access will ensure clients and other businesses are secure in their interactions with the business.
What qualifications does a cryptographer need?
Typically, cryptographers have a degree in computer science, mathematics, computer engineering or a similar subject. Many universities also offer cyber security, cryptology and cryptography courses at postgraduate and doctorate levels which may improve your chances of landing a job.
However, most companies will expect applicants to have practical knowledge of data encryption so a balance of practical and theoretical skill is important.
Your practical knowledge can be shown through experience working in similar positions as well as internships. The only certification for cryptographers is currently the Certified Encryption Specialist award created by the EC-Council. This certification is available for American cryptographers.