Cryptography helps keep information secure, and it's a critical part of cybersecurity. One method of keeping data secure is the use of encryption. This involves turning readable information into unreadable information that can only be accessed with an encryption key.
If you're interested in cryptography, you'll need to learn at least one (and typically more than one) programming language. Here are the best languages for cryptography.
Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It's a general-purpose language, which means it's used for a wide range of tasks, including cryptography. It's also beginner-friendly, so it's an excellent place to start if you're new to coding.
Python is open source, which means it's free to use, and it has a large and active community. It also has an extensive selection of libraries and frameworks, which means you have a wealth of resources at your disposal.
Python is also a popular language for cryptography. One of its libraries is called "cryptography," and it has secure primitives. A primitive is the smallest, simplest data type.
One popular secure primitive is the Fernet implementation, which supports "secret key" cryptography. This type of encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt information.
Go, also known as Golang, is a programming language that was created by Google. It's an open-source language designed to be simple and easy to learn. It's also designed to perform well at scale.
Go is a popular choice for cryptography because several packages have been designed for Go that support cryptographic operations.
Ruby is another popular, general-purpose programming language. It was released in 1995 by Yukihiro Matsumoto, who said he was "trying to make Ruby natural, not simple."
A significant amount of Ruby's growth and popularity is due to the Ruby on Rails framework. Like Python and Go, Ruby is open source. OpenSSL is a popular Ruby library that's used for cryptography.
C++ was designed to improve the C programming language, and it's now found just about everywhere, including operating systems, video games, and web browsers. It gives programmers a high level of control over system memory and resources.
One reason for its popularity for cryptography is Crypto++, which is a C++ library of cryptographic algorithms. The library was first released in 1995 and supports a wide range of operating systems, including Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, and Windows.
Like C++, C# has its roots in the C family of programming languages. It's a general-purpose language developed by Microsoft, is relatively easy to learn, and has a speedy compilation and execution time.
C# programs run on the .NET framework, which is a virtual execution system. This program provides a set of cryptographic objects for common uses, including encryption and generating digital signatures.
Java is a very popular programming language favored by developers for its versatility and portability. You can quickly move code written in Java from a laptop to a mobile device.
Java has a cryptography API that's provided by the Java Cryptography Extension (JCE). An API (application programming interface) is a software intermediary that helps applications talk to each other. JCE allows you to scramble and unscramble data, verify data sent by others, annotate code, and perform administrative operations associated with cryptographic primitives.
PHP is a server-side programming language that works well with HTML and databases. Like most other programming languages, it's open source. PHP code is executed on a server, and the result is returned to the browser as HTML. PHP can do a wide variety of tasks, including:
- Creating, opening, reading, writing, and closing files on a server
- Adding, deleting, and modifying data in a database
- Sending and receiving cookies
- Controlling user access
PHP can also encrypt data, and it has several useful functions that simplify hashing. Sodium, an easy-to-use PHP library, also simplifies secret key encryption.
Getting started with Cryptography
You have many options when it comes to the best language for cryptography. To get started with any of the languages above, check out the courses below:
Another option is to start by taking a broader look at cybersecurity. Our introduction to cybersecurity covers the history of cybersecurity, cyber threats, cryptography, authentication, authorization, network security basics, and securing personal devices. You'll also have a chance to look at case studies to see cybersecurity at work.
Cryptography is an essential part of cybersecurity, and learning it can help you secure a position where you keep important information safe. We're here to help you on your way.