6 Best Cryptography Books for Programmers in 2023

An old-fashioned, enigma encryption machine. These machines were popular in the early to mid-20th century.

An old-fashioned, enigma encryption machine. These machines were popular in the early to mid-20th century.

Cryptography is an indispensable tool for protecting information in computer systems. It has a long and important history in protecting critical systems and sensitive information.

To help programmers in selecting a well-structured and latest book for learning Cryptography, we have narrowed it down to the best Cryptography books. We have selected the latest books where content is focused on the latest changes and gives you the confidence to move forward.


Why Learn Cryptography?

Here are a few reasons you may want to learn cryptography:

  • Learn Computer Systems: Learning cryptography expands your knowledge of computer systems and other related subjects.

  • Cryptography is Fun: Many developers get into the profession out of a love for video games. Cryptography is engaging in that same way. It tests your mind and problem-solving ability.

  • Future-Proof Your Skillset: The market for cryptography will only increase in the future. The internet is gradually overtaking the world, and you need to be at the center stage of it all. Every system is going digital, making cryptography the best way for safe communication.

  • Get Higher Salary: Moreover, it is one of the most in-demand skillsets in the current market, given that few people go into the field. Resulting in higher salaries for the many opportunities up for grabs as a cryptanalyst.

If you’re interested in cryptography, your language of choice might be Python or Ruby. You may also be interested in other security topics like authorization and authentication with OAuth 2.0.


What Makes The Best Cryptography Books?

Here are our criteria for the selection of the books:

  • Use clear, precise, and easy-to-understand language

  • Thoroughly teach and explain the latest Cryptography concepts

  • Contain exercises, examples, and practice problems for hands-on experience

  • Enable to hold the attention of readers

  • Well-structured and friendly toward self-taught programmers


Best Books on Cryptography

Here are the reviews on the best and latest Cryptography books for programmers. 


1. Best book for beginners: Practical Cryptography in Python

Practical Cryptography in Python: Learning Correct Cryptography by Example by Dr. Seth James Nielson and Christopher K. Monson teaches the basics of writing cryptographic algorithms in Python. The book guides the reader to demystify cryptographic internals and demonstrates common ways cryptography is used incorrectly.

The book is perfectly balanced between the theoretical and practical sides of cryptography. The book is divided into seven chapters and includes the following topics:

  • Chapter 1: Cryptography: More Than Secrecy

  • Chapter 2: Hashing

  • Chapter 3: Symmetric Encryption: Two Sides, One Key

  • Chapter 4: Asymmetric Encryption: Public/Private Keys

  • Chapter 5: Message Integrity, Signatures, and Certificates

  • Chapter 6: Combining Asymmetric and Symmetric Algorithms

  • Chapter 7: More Symmetric Crypto: Authenticated Encryption and Kerberos

  • Chapter 8: TLS Communications

Here's what you will learn from the book:

  • Understand where cryptography is used, why, and how it gets misused

  • Know what secure hashing is used for and its basic properties

  • Get up to speed on algorithms and modes for block ciphers such as AES, and see how bad configurations break

  • Use message integrity and/or digital signatures to protect messages

  • Utilize modern symmetric ciphers such as AES-GCM and CHACHA

  • Practice the basics of public-key cryptography, including ECDSA signatures

  • Discover how RSA encryption can be broken if insecure padding is used

  • Employ TLS connections for secure communications

  • Find out how certificates work and modern improvements such as certificate pinning and certificate transparency (CT) logs

This is a beginner-friendly book and assumes that the reader is starting from scratch.


2. Best book for hands-on learners: Full Stack Python Security

Full Stack Python Security by Dennis Byrne teaches you everything you’ll need to build secure Python web applications. Starting with a clear review of cryptographic foundations, you’ll learn how to implement layers of defense, secure user authentication, and third-party access, and protect your applications against common hacks.

The book is divided into three parts and eighteen chapters.

  • Chapter 1 talks about Defense in depth

Part 1 - Cryptographic Foundations

  • Chapter 2 covers Hashing

  • Chapter 3 talks about Keyed hashing

  • Chapter 4 covers Symmetric encryption

  • Chapter 5 talks about Asymmetric encryption

  • Chapter 6 covers Transport Layer Security

Part 2 - Authentication And Authorization

  • Chapter 7 covers HTTP session management

  • Chapter 8 talks about User authentication

  • Chapter 9 covers User password management

  • Chapter 10 talks about Authorization

  • Chapter 11 covers OAuth 2

Part 3 - Attack Resistance

  • 12 talks about Working with the operating system

  • Chapter 13 guides you to Never trust input

  • Chapter 14 talks about Cross-site scripting attacks

  • Chapter 15 covers Content Security Policy

  • Chapter 16 talks about Cross-site request forgery

  • Chapter 17 talks about Cross-Origin Resource Sharing

  • Chapter 18 covers Clickjacking

As you work through the insightful code snippets and engaging examples, you’ll put security standards, best practices, and more into action. Along the way, you’ll get exposure to important libraries and tools in the Python ecosystem.


3. Best book for serious learners: Serious Cryptography

Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption by Jean-Philippe Aumasson gives a great introduction to modern encryption and cryptography. You’ll learn about authenticated encryption, secure randomness, hash functions, block ciphers, and public-key techniques such as RSA and elliptic curve cryptography.

The book is divided into fourteen chapters. Each chapter includes a discussion of common implementation mistakes using real-world examples. The book also details what could go wrong and how to avoid these pitfalls.

  • Chapter 1 talks about Encryption

  • Chapter 2 covers Randomness

  • Chapter 3 covers Cryptographic Security

  • Chapter 4 talks about Block Ciphers

  • Chapter 5 covers Stream Ciphers

  • Chapter 6 talks about Hash Functions

  • Chapter 7 covers Keyed-Hashing

  • Chapter 8 talks about Authenticated Encryption

  • Chapter 9 discusses the hard problems

  • Chapter 10 covers RSA

  • Chapter 11 talks about Diffie-Hellman

  • Chapter 12 covers Elliptic Curves

  • Chapter 13 covers TLS

  • Chapter 14 covers Quantum and Post-Quantum

Serious Cryptography is a must-read for anyone wanting to enter the cryptographic field.


Other books you may like:


4. Best book for absolute beginners: Cracking Codes With Python: An Introduction To Building And Breaking Ciphers

Cracking Codes with Python is a fantastic introduction to the Python programming language using the super-fun theme of codebreaking. You will learn to make, test, and hack programs that encrypt text with classical ciphers. 

Here's what you will learn from the book:

  • Combine loops, variables, and flow control statements into real working programs

  • Use dictionary files to instantly detect whether decrypted messages are valid English or gibberish

  • Create test programs to make sure that your code encrypts and decrypts correctly

  • Code and hack a working example of the affine cipher, which uses modular arithmetic to encrypt a message

  • Break ciphers with techniques such as brute-force and frequency analysis

The book is divided into twenty-four chapters and includes the following topics.

  • Chapter 1 talks about Making Paper Cryptography Tools

  • Chapter 2 talks about Programming in the Interactive Shell

  • Chapter 3 covers Strings and Writing Programs

  • Chapter 4 covers the Reverse Cipher

  • Chapter 5 covers the Caesar Cipher

  • Chapter 6 covers Hacking the Caesar Cipher with Brute Force

  • Chapter 7 talks about Encrypting with the Transposition Cipher

  • Chapter 8 talks about Decrypting with the Transposition Cipher

  • Chapter 9 talks about Programming a Program to Test Your Program

  • Chapter 10 discusses Encrypting and Decrypting Files

  • Chapter 11 talks about Detecting English Programmatically

  • Chapter 12 talks about Hacking the Transposition Cipher

  • Chapter 13 covers a Modular Arithmetic Module for the Affine Cipher

  • Chapter 14 talks about Programming the Affine Cipher

  • Chapter 15 talks about Hacking the Affine Cipher

  • Chapter 16 talks about Programming the Simple Substitution Cipher

  • Chapter 17 talks about Hacking the Simple Substitution Cipher

  • Chapter 18 talks about Programming the Vigenère Cipher

  • Chapter 19 covers Frequency Analysis

  • Chapter 20 covers Hacking the Vigenère Cipher

  • Chapter 21 covers The One-Time Pad Cipher

  • Chapter 22 guides you to find and generate Prime Numbers

  • Chapter 23 talks about Generating Keys for the RSA Cipher

  • Chapter 24 talks about Programming the RSA Cipher

The book is well-structured, easy to understand, and makes the learning fun! If you're looking to start your python cybersecurity career, this book is for you.


5. Best book for hands-on learners: Hands-On Cryptography with Python: Leverage the power of Python to encrypt and decrypt data

Hands-On Cryptography with Python teaches you to evaluate and compare data encryption methods and understand their limitations. The book explores popular and important cryptographic methods and helps you to perform attacks on cryptographic systems.

This book covers essential cryptography concepts; classic encryption methods, such as the Caesar cipher and XOR. It also covers the concepts of confusion and diffusion, which determine how strong a cryptosystem is. The book guides you in hiding data with obfuscation and hashing data for integrity and passwords. You will learn strong encryption methods and attacks against these methods, including the padding oracle attack.

  • Protect data with encryption and hashing

  • Explore and compare various encryption methods

  • Encrypt data using the Caesar Cipher technique

  • Make hashes and crack them

  • Learn how to use three NIST-recommended systems: AES, SHA, and RSA

  • Understand common errors in encryption and exploit them

By the end of this book, you will be able to deal with common errors in encryption.


6. Best book for practical learners: Implementing Cryptography Using Python

Implementing Cryptography Using Python is an easy-to-understand introduction to cryptography using the available libraries in Python. This practical guide emphasizes real-world usability and explains the basics of cryptography and the Python language. The book teaches you how to set up a Python environment on various machines and how to write your first cipher, and script, analyze, and deploy a range of cryptographic solutions in Python. 

The clear, user-friendly chapters explore the history of cryptography while providing step-by-step instructions for creating secure communications using public-key cryptography, authenticating messages, verifying digital signatures, and much more.

Here's what you will get from the book:

  • Learn how to implement proven cryptographic tools, using easy-to-understand examples written in Python

  • Discover the history of cryptography and understand its critical importance in today’s digital communication systems

  • Work through real-world examples to understand the pros and cons of various authentication methods

  • Protect your end-users and ensure that your applications and systems are using up-to-date cryptography


More Ways to Learn Cryptography

So these are the best Cryptography books for programmers. They serve as a great resource for those who want to learn best through reading.

There are also a few online courses on the list that let you learn Cryptography. Let's have a look at them:

  • Coursera: Python for Cybersecurity Specialization. You will learn Python for a variety of cybersecurity tasks. This Specialization provides an application-driven introduction to using Python for cybersecurity.

Go ahead and grab a book or sign up for an online course, and we guarantee that you will reap a big from the skills.

Miranda Limonczenko

Miranda is the founder of Books on Code, with a mission to bring book-lover culture to programmers. Learn more by checking out Miranda on LinkedIn.


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