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Learn encryption with online courses and programs

Gain a competitive edge in the field of cryptography. Explore encryption techniques and enhance your skills in information security. Learn encryption with online courses delivered through edX.

What is encryption?

The process of concealing information in a coded language is known as cryptography. Cryptographers are responsible for protecting sensitive data to prevent unauthorized access or misuse. They do this by using a variety of techniques, including encryption.

Encryption is the process of converting information or confidential data into unreadable code that can only be understood by authorized users. In computer systems, unencrypted data is called plain text, and encrypted data is called ciphertext.Footnote 1 In order to access the converted data, users must decrypt it with a unique key, code, or password.

Encryption was used by ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman military services thousands of years ago before it was used in modern technology. Today, businesses use encryption to secure their transmissions and prevent sensitive data from falling into the hands of malicious third parties.Footnote 2

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Encryption course curriculum

If you are interested in learning more about how encryption works, explore courses that cover a range of cryptography-related topics. Depending on your educational and professional goals, you may find it helpful to enroll in a comprehensive program that teaches encryption in addition to cybersecurity and cryptography concepts, such as a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Coursework may cover programming, information technology (IT), networking, math, and computer science fundamentals and may also offer an encryption certificate on course completion. 

A foundational encryption course may delve into topics such as:

  • Cryptography basics (e.g., What is data encryption and what are its benefits?)

  • Network defense essentials

  • Cloud security basics

  • Ethical hacking

  • Cybersecurity fundamentals

  • Cybersecurity compliance and system administration

  • Cloud computing

More advanced encryption tutorials and courses may cover lessons on database encryption, encryption algorithms for hiding sensitive data, programming languages for building cryptographic algorithms, and uses of encryption in cybercrime investigations. 

A master’s degree program can provide further opportunities to learn new ways to leverage encryption techniques. For learners who want to gain new technical skills quickly, online boot camps, which focus on topics like cybersecurity and coding, can also be a great option.

Explore encryption jobs 

If you’re interested in handling sensitive information and solving complex problems, a career in encryption can be both challenging and rewarding. As organizations aim to improve their security vulnerability, they need professionals who have expertise in encryption.

Learners who want to pursue jobs in cybersecurity or work with intellectual property may find encryption to be a useful skill. Developers and software programmers can also safeguard their applications and the data in them with encryption.

Encryption professionals can be found in government, academia, technology, and finance. Job titles and their responsibilities can include: 

  • Cryptographer: Develops, analyzes, and implements cryptographic systems and algorithms.Footnote 3

  • Information security analyst: Strengthens an organization’s computer systems and network to safeguard sensitive data.Footnote 4

  • Security engineer: Designs and maintains security systems and encryption technologies.Footnote 5

  • Penetration tester: Tests the effectiveness of various encryption systems implemented in a company.Footnote 6

  • Security operations center (SOC) analyst: Monitors computer systems and networks for security threats and responds to encryption-based incidents.Footnote 7

  • Software developer: Develops software applications that use encryption technologies and debugs the software to ensure it is secure.Footnote 8

Each of these roles will have different requirements depending on the field and employer. As you browse job listings, take note of the skills and other requirements needed for the roles you’re interested in. In addition to technical skills, employers may also look for applicants with critical interpersonal skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication.

How to use encryption in your career 

Knowledge of encryption techniques can help safeguard company information for your current organization. Your industry, the size of your company, and the types of data you work with can help you determine the best types of encryption to implement.

Some examples of encryption include:

  • TLS (Transport Layer Security): Secures internet communication by encrypting data between clients and web servers. This can be useful for protecting transactional information, such as credit card numbers.Footnote 9

  • AES (Advanced Encryption Standard): Encrypts and decrypts data with a symmetric key encryption algorithm. VPNs, mobile applications, and video games can use AES encryption.Footnote 10

  • PGP (Pretty Good Privacy): Protects email messages with a combination of symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

  • Blowfish: Secures information on hard drives and other storage devices using a single key to encrypt and decrypt data. 

  • RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman): Secures data transmission over the internet with a public-key encryption method. It is widely used to encrypt emails and other digital transactions.Footnote 11

To use encryption in your career, you may also need a strong understanding of encryption concepts, familiarity with encryption tools, problem-solving skills, and analytical skills. Start building the skills you need with edX. From broad bachelor’s programs to more specialized cybersecurity boot camps, there are a range of learning opportunities available to help you propel your career forward.