13 best cryptography books this year [learn cryptography now]

13 Best Cryptography Books in 2022 [Learn Cryptography NOW]

What is cryptography?

Cryptography is the practice and study of secure communication techniques. This enables only the sender and recipient to view the contents of a message… And not malicious third parties.

The most common use of cryptography is encrypting and decrypting emails. Some other uses include ATM transactions and secure web browsing.

An example of cryptography is where letters are replaced with other letters and/or characters, like this ROT13 cipher:

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

🧠 Did you know? Thomas Jefferson developed ciphers for his personal letters.

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TLDR: Best Cryptography Books

🔥 Best Overall 🔥
Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption

💸 Best Value 💸

Cryptography: The Key to Digital Security, How It Works, and Why It Matters

1. Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption

↘️ Ideal for: new and experienced cryptographers
Topics covered:
cryptography fundamentals, quantum computation, protocols

Serious Cryptography published by No Starch Press is one of the best cryptography books for beginners.

Packed with real-world examples, you’ll learn about core cryptography concepts like:

✅ authenticated encryption

✅ computational security

✅ attacker models

✅ forward secrecy

Then you’ll dive into more complex topics like protocols and quantum computation. Finally, you’ll look at tons of code examples to learn how to identify vulnerabilities.

➡️ Serious Cryptography is published by the tech gurus over at No Starch Press.

See what cryptographers are saying about Serious Cryptography:

One of the best and most concise introductions to cryptography out there. Highly recommend.

– Ryan, Developer

🔥 Geena’s Hot Take

We. Love. No. Starch. Press. WE LOVE IT!

If you were able to examine my bookshelf, you’d find that almost half of the books I own are from No Starch Press.

When you want to learn something and learn it well, go to these guys. Their books are well-organized, thorough and hip.

So if you’re serious about learning cryptography, go with Serious Cryptography.

2. Cryptography: The Key to Digital Security, How It Works, and Why It Matters

↘️ Ideal for: cryptography beginners
Topics covered:
ins and outs, fundamentals

Cryptography is one of the best cryptography books for developers on a budget.

It’s also a solid cryptography reference for beginners.

Rather than applying cryptography methods, you’ll learn about theory.

Starting from the ground up, you’ll find answers to questions like:

✅ Is it important to have different passwords?

✅ Is it safe to submit sensitive information?

✅ Is it safe to convert money to Bitcoin?

You’ll also learn how cryptography affects bank data breaches, criminal investigations and ransomware attacks.

➡️ Cryptography explains the importance of cryptography in daily life.

3. Real-World Cryptography

↘️ Ideal for: cryptography beginners
Topics covered:
tools, practices

Real-World Cryptography teaches practical cryptography techniques.

You won’t find a math-heavy load here. Rather, you’ll learn cryptography through real-world use cases.

You’ll explore concepts like:

✅ hash functions and signatures

✅ protocols and secure messaging

post-quantum cryptography

✅ cryptocurrencies

And much more.

➡️ With Real-World Cryptography you’ll discover ways to avoid bad practices and choose the right cryptographic tools for the job.

Encryption and decryption diagram in Real-World Cryptography

4. Modern Cryptography for Cybersecurity Professionals

↘️ Ideal for: IT managers, security professionals, students that understand encryption and networking
Topics covered:
practical cryptography, encryption, cryptography applications

Modern Cryptography for Cybersecurity Professionals is one of the best cryptography books for developers familiar with encryption and networking.

This is probably the most advanced book you’ll find in our cryptography book list today.

You’ll start by learning the reasons why we need secure data. Then you’ll learn about symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

After that, you’ll learn about more complex concepts such as the public key infrastructure (PKI).

Finally, you’ll learn about the applications of cryptography such as:

✅ passwords

✅ blockchain technology

✅ securely transmitting data

And beyond.

➡️ By the end of Modern Cryptography for Cybersecurity Professionals, you should have a solid understanding of different cryptography techniques.

5. Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms and Source Code in C

↘️ Ideal for: cryptography newbies, C developers
Topics covered:
algorithms, advice, security problems

Wired Magazine calls Applied Cryptography “… the best introduction to cryptography I’ve ever seen…”

But beware: A few modern practices and cryptographic technologies are not covered in this book (like AES). This is a legacy book but the fundamentals are explained very well.

As a programmer, you’ll learn how to use cryptography to maintain computer data privacy while learning:

✅ cryptography algorithms

✅ practical advice

✅ protocols

✅ how to solve security problems

Most importantly, you’ll learn how to make your software and systems secure.

➡️ Applied Cryptography is considered by many developers to be the GOAT of cryptography books.

Types of protocols in Applied Cryptography

See what cryptographers are saying about Applied Cryptography:

Arguably the best book written on cryptography. A must read for developers.

– Stuart Williams, Developer

6. Crypto Dictionary: 500 Tasty Tidbits for the Curious Cryptographer

↘️ Ideal for: experienced cryptographers
Topics covered:
proofs, quantum computing, history of cryptography

Crypto Dictionary published by No Starch Press is meant to be a reference for experienced cryptographers.

Author Jean-Philippe Aumasson also wrote Serious Cryptography (#1 on our list of best cryptography books).

Self-described as the “ultimate desktop dictionary,” you’ll find:

✅ crypto algorithms

✅ history trivia

✅ cryptographic proofs

✅ the future of cryptography

And much, much, MUCH more!

➡️ Crypto Dictionary is a fun, go-to guide for all things cryptography.

7. SSL/TLS Under Lock and Key: A Guide to Understanding SSL/TLS Cryptography

↘️ Ideal for: systems administrators, developers, cryptography newbies
Topics covered:
foundational theory, certificates

SSL/TLS Under Lock and Key is your complete guide to SSL/TLS. In fact, it’s the only book on our list that covers SSL/TLS in depth.

First you’ll learn about foundational theory concepts like:

✅ symmetric vs asymmetric cryptography

✅ digital signatures

✅ history and context

Then you’ll dive into common tasks such as generating a self-signed certificate and converting certificates to different formats.

➡️ SSL/TLS Under Lock and Key is your go-to guide for all things cryptography with SSL/TLS.

Symmetric encryption in SSL/TLS Under Lock and Key

8. Cracking Codes with Python: An Introduction to Building and Breaking Ciphers

↘️ Ideal for: Python developers, Python newbies
Topics covered:
test programs, ciphers

Cracking Codes with Python published by No Starch Press is one of the best cryptography books for Python newbies who also want to learn how to build and break ciphers.

Geared towards Python beginners, you’ll start with a crash course in Python basics. Then you’ll learn how to make, test and hack programs that encrypt text.

You’ll start with simple programs and then build your way up to learning public key cryptography. And you’ll cover a few things in between such as:

✅ detecting language of encrypted messages

✅ creating test programs

✅ coding and attacking the affine cipher

✅ breaking ciphers with different techniques

And more.

➡️ Cracking Codes with Python is for Python newbies who want to learn how to dominate the essentials of cryptography.

9. Practical Cryptography in Python: Learning Correct Cryptography by Example

↘️ Ideal for: experienced Python developers, IT administrators
Topics covered:
algorithms, message integrity, cryptography fundamentals

Practical Cryptography in Python is similar to Cracking Codes with Python in that they both teach cryptography from the perspective of Python programming. But Practical Cryptography in Python is for experienced Python developers, not beginners.

You’ll dive right into learning about how and why cryptography is used. Then, after getting up to speed on algorithms and modes, you’ll learn about:

✅ secure hashing

✅ message integrity

✅ public key cryptography

✅ TLS connections

✅ certificates

And beyond.

➡️ Practical Cryptography in Python is for experienced Python developers opening up the mysterious world of cryptography.

10. Introduction to Modern Cryptography, 3rd Edition

↘️ Ideal for: cryptography newbies
Topics covered:
cryptography fundamentals

Introduction to Modern Cryptography brags that it’s “the most used textbook for introductory cryptography courses in both mathematics and computer science.”

You’ll start by learning about the history of cryptography and its modern uses.

The second part of the book takes a deep dive into symmetric cryptography, covering concepts like:

✅ private-key encryption

✅ message authentication codes

✅ hash functions and applications

Finally, you’ll learn about asymmetric cryptography concepts such as number theory and key management.

➡️ Introduction to Modern Cryptography is one of the best textbooks for learning cryptography.

Private-key cryptography use case in Introduction to Modern Cryptography

11. Understanding Cryptography: A Textbook for Students and Practitioners

↘️ Ideal for: cryptography newbies
Topics covered:
cryptography fundamentals, implementation

Understanding Cryptography is an oldie but a goodie. Published in 2009, it’s still widely used today. This is another legacy book that is good for learning the foundations of cryptography.

You’ll start with an introduction to cryptography and data security. While keeping mathematics to a minimum, you’ll learn about everything from cryptography foundations to implementations.

Author Christof Parr has an accompanying course on his YouTube channel.

➡️ Understanding Cryptography is a comprehensive cryptography guide meant to drive home the fundamentals.

12. Cryptography Engineering: Design Principles and Practical Applications

↘️ Ideal for: cryptography newbies
Topics covered:
block ciphers, block modes, hash functions

Cryptography Engineering is an older book (2010) but many of its principles remain relevant today. It’s worth checking out if you want to learn a wealth of information from renowned cryptography experts Niels Ferguson, Bruce Schneier and Tadayoshi Kohno.

You’ll learn about key cryptography concepts such as:

✅ block ciphers and modes

✅ hash functions

✅ message authentication codes

✅ negotiation protocols

And much, much more.

➡️ Cryptography Engineering is a go-to book for time-tested cryptography fundamentals.

13. Cryptography And Network Security, 7th Edition

↘️ Ideal for: crytoography and network security newbies
Topics covered:
Sage, cryptography and network security

Cryptography and Network Security by William Stallings is one of the best cryptography books for also learning network security.

You’ll also find a heavy focus on Sage, a mathematics and computer algebra system.

With hands-on exercises, you’ll discover how to work with cryptographic algorithms.

➡️ Cryptography and Network Security provides a tutorial of cryptography and network security technology.

Best Cryptography Books: Conclusion

Today we looked at the best cryptography books including:

🔥 Best Overall 🔥
Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption

💸 Best Value 💸

Cryptography: The Key to Digital Security, How It Works, and Why It Matters

So whether you’re looking for the classics or want to keep up to date with the most modern technologies, we think these are the best cryptography books out there.

Cryptographers are also reading: