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History of Cryptography

Who's tracking you on the Internet?  With the rise of privacy concerns in digital spaces,  encryption technology has become an increasingly important modern topic. But the practice of secure communication, and the practice of trying to break it, have been around for centuries. Come examine the origins of cryptography, from Caesar ciphers to modern day techniques and even learn some basic crypto methods that can be done by hand.  More importantly, learn the principles of cryptography and digital privacy to protect your data more securely.  

History of Cryptography

Taught by Erik L. Arneson


Who's tracking you on the Internet?  With the rise of privacy concerns in digital spaces,  encryption technology has become an increasingly important modern topic. But the practice of secure communication, and the practice of trying to break it, have been around for centuries. Come examine the origins of cryptography, from Caesar ciphers to modern day techniques and even learn some basic crypto methods that can be done by hand.  More importantly, learn the principles of cryptography and digital privacy to protect your data more securely.  

Week 1: The origins of cryptography, how to talk about cryptography, and a look at some of the earliest and easiest forms of keeping messages safe from attackers.  Learn how to create an encrypted message.

Week 2:  Medieval cryptography, including the Voynich manuscript, a 15th century text that has never been decoded.  Early modern cryptography, including Edgar Allan Poe and the Dreyfus Affair.  Learn how to crack an encrypted message.  

Week 3:  The computer era.  Algorithms and advanced math. The critical role of codes and codebreaking in WWII: the Enigma machine the windtalkers. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.  Pair up with a classmate to do cool spy stuff.

Week 4: Using Modern Cryptography.  Online privacy and anonymity.  Protecting information on modern computers, avoiding common pitfalls, and using best practices. Suggested software and how to use it 


Erik L. Arneson is a writer, amateur cryptographer, software developer, and armchair historian.