Do you enjoy puzzles? Try this one: If X=A, what does the following sentence mean? The cxt xnd the hxt. If you guessed, the cat and the hat, you’d be right. In this simple puzzle, you need to know the code to decipher the hidden message. This is what cryptography is all about.
Cryptographers write and decipher codes. They work in industries like telecommunications, finance, government, military, and intelligence. They analyze and translate data, encrypt and decrypt information, and identify codes and weaknesses in coded information. It’s a massive niche that focuses on masking information from adversaries like companies, enemies, spies, diplomats, hackers, identity thieves, and other evil-doers.
In Greek, “Cryptography” can be broken down into the root meanings “Hidden” + “Writing”. It is not a new phenomenon. One famous example of cryptography is a ruler who shaved a man’s head, tattooed a message on it, let the hair re-grow, and sent him to bring the message across enemy lines. Today, the goal of cryptography is the same – to mask information from prying eyes.
This cool career sounds like something out of a spy thriller, but cryptographers ensure your security and privacy in your every day life. By using high-end mathematical algorithms, they mask your info when you use bankcards, security codes, passwords, mobile phones, e-commerce, e-signatures, digital payments, and other technology. In today’s techno-savvy world, data security is a major concern. From encoding magnetic strips on credit cards to ensuring tamper proof signatures on legal documents, cryptographers are working hard behind the scenes to keep your personal information safe.
Cryptographers use statistics, mathematical theory, algorithm design, coding, and computer science to design unbreakable codes. To become a cryptographer, you need to enjoy solving puzzles. At an early age, you should begin to read books about cryptography and study mathematics. Next pursue higher education in mathematics, computer science, or engineering from schools like the University of Chicago.
In school you will learn about different forms of cryptography like Substitution, Transposition, and Concealment. You will focus on creating ciphers, which are pairs of algorithms that encrypt and decrypt messages. Your goal will be to turn readable text into unintelligible nonsense and then back into readable text. The goal is to stay one step ahead of hackers, thieves, and other adversaries.
Cryptographers can find jobs with consultancies and firms where they hone their skills and provide clients with secure systems. They encrypt and decrypt codes for storing, transmitting, and securing data. Cryptographers work with highly sensitive information that must be protected at all costs. To land a cryptography job, you must pass a background check. It’s also a good idea to earn a certification as a Certified Encryption Specialist from the EC-Council.
Cryptography has found its way into pop culture like Dan Brown novels or the Hollywood hit, Sneakers. Children writing invisible messages in lemon juice are dabbling in the hidden ways of cryptography. There are cryptograms in puzzle books. It’s definitely something that the NSA and CIA use frequently. There is even a famous unbreakable cryptogram puzzle outside CIA headquarters called Kryptos. It’s one of the world’s greatest unsolved codes.
Most cryptographers work long hours writing and deciphering codes that mask information to keep the world safe and secure. It’s a big job and it’s a growing rapidly as technology continues to develop and infiltrate our lives. Cryptography is a cool way to make a living, plus it typically pays $100,000 per year.
Now is a good time to break into the world of cryptography. If you love puzzles, have a knack for solving tricky math problems, and are fascinated by technology, then pursuing a cryptographer job may be ideal for you.
Quick Facts About Cryptographer Jobs
Job Title: Cryptographer
Description: Data security via encrypting and decrypting information
Certifications/Education: Certification available from EC-Council
Necessary Skills: Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, Algorithm Design
Potential Employers: Firms, Credit Card Companies, Consultancies
Pay:$100,000 per year