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Learn about the RSA cryptosystem with online courses and programs

The RSA algorithm is an encryption technique that can make data transmissions more secure. Learn about this cryptosystem with courses delivered through edX.

What is the RSA cryptosystem?

RSA is an encryption method used to encrypt messages transmitted over unsecured networks like the internet. The RSA algorithm is asymmetric, which means it uses two mathematically linked keys for encryption and decryption. The first is a public key that turns plaintext into ciphertext, or encoded information, and the second is a private key that converts the message back to plaintext.Footnote 1

Users can openly share public keys and use them to encrypt sensitive messages. However, only those with the private key can decrypt them into a plaintext message. Security protocols like Secure Shell (SSH) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) use RSA encryption to establish secure internet connections, encrypt data transmission, and authenticate the validity of digital signatures.Footnote 2

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RSA encryption course curriculum

Because RSA falls within the realm of cryptography, it can be helpful to first explore the basics of encryption and decryption. edX offers a variety of learning paths for individuals interested in leveraging the added security of the RSA algorithm. A cryptography tutorial can provide you with fundamental knowledge, which you can further expand on through a cybersecurity boot camp. There, you might learn important coding languages related to RSA, such as Python, Java, and C++. 

Introductory classes may start by discussing the definition and types of cryptography, as well as its role in cybersecurity. Courses may then explore how the RSA algorithm works, explain IT governance best practices, and provide opportunities to practice penetration testing and digital forensics techniques.

If you want to delve further into the RSA algorithm and its capabilities, advanced courses may cover topics like:

  • Proofs of correctness using Fermat’s theorem and Euler’s theorem

  • Timing attacks on the RSA algorithm

  • Optimal Asymmetric Encryption Padding (OAEP) schemes

  • Faulty key generation and the RSA problem 

  • Adaptive chosen-ciphertext and side-channel attacks

Depending on how you plan to use your RSA encryption skills, you may find that a bachelor’s degree program can provide you with supplemental knowledge you need for a particular field. In addition to undergraduate degrees, edX offers master’s degree programs that can round out your existing professional experience and prepare you for career advancement.

Explore jobs that use RSA encryption 

Completing a cryptography course can open up a variety of exciting job opportunities. Because RSA is a commonly used cryptosystem to secure transmissions over the internet, proficiency with the algorithm and other encryption skills can make you an attractive candidate when applying for jobs. 

Professionals that use encryption in their work include:

  • Web developers: apply encryption to their applications to prevent unauthorized access to, and theft of, user information.

  • Software programmers: apply application-level encryption across multiple layers (disks, files, and databases) to enhance security.

  • Cryptographers: use encryption techniques to build and implement secure digital systems.

  • Cybersecurity specialists: work with IT teams to keep their organization’s infrastructure safe from external threats.

  • Information security analysts: work with cybersecurity specialists to develop security systems with encryption algorithms, such as RSA.

As you explore the career paths open to individuals with encryption and RSA knowledge, you may find that some employers and roles require specific levels of education, or additional credentials. By comparing your current skill set with job requirements, you can tailor your educational path to help reach your professional goals. From executive education courses to accelerated boot camps, edX offers a range of opportunities that can propel your professional development forward.