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Practical introduction to quantum-safe cryptography

Practical introduction to quantum-safe cryptography is a free online course on the IBM Quantum Learning platform and serves as a primer on the foundational concepts in quantum-safe cryptography.

This course was created for developers who are interested in modernizing their application security and features multimodal lessons and interactive live code examples in four core areas of cryptography: cryptographic hash functions, symmetric key cryptography, asymmetric key cryptography, and quantum-safe cryptography.

By taking this course, developers will learn how the cybersecurity risk landscape is evolving in the quantum era and steps they can take today to mitigate at-risk cryptography within their applications.

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Practical introduction to quantum-safe cryptography illustration


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Introduction to this course
  • Course introduction
  • Key takeaways for this course
  • Tips for navigating this course
  • Before you begin
  • Lesson structure
  • Running the Python examples
  • Pre-course Survey
  • Next steps after this course
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Cryptographic hash functions
  • Introduction
  • Introduction to cryptographic hashing
  • Basic rationale and design of hash functions
  • Example of cryptographic hashing in Python with SHA-256
  • Applications of cryptographic hashing
  • Security of cryptographic hashing
  • Commonly used cryptographic hash functions
  • Summary
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Symmetric key cryptography
  • Introduction
  • Introduction to symmetric key cryptography
  • Properties of symmetric key cryptosystems
  • Illustration of symmetric key encryption using python
  • Applications of symmetric key cryptography
  • Principles of symmetric key encryption
  • Popular symmetric key algorithms
  • Advantages of symmetric key cryptography
  • Challenges and limitations of symmetric key cryptography
  • Quantum computing and symmetric key encryption: Risks and mitigation
  • Summary
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Asymmetric key cryptography
  • Introduction
  • Introduction to asymmetric key cryptography
  • Key exchange with asymmetric key cryptography
  • Digital signatures with asymmetric key cryptography
  • Applications of asymmetric key cryptography
  • Security of asymmetric key cryptography
  • RSA
  • Breaking RSA
  • Diffie-Hellman key exchange and the Digital Signature Algorithm
  • Breaking Diffie-Hellman and DSA
  • Elliptic curve cryptography
  • Summary
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Quantum-safe cryptography
  • Introduction
  • Introduction to quantum-safe cryptography
  • Quantum algorithms and impacts to cryptography
  • Basic principles of quantum-safe cryptography
  • NIST standardization of quantum-safe cryptography
  • Lattice-based cryptography
  • Module-LWE and the CRYSTALS suite
  • Hybrid cryptography
  • Summary
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What's next?
  • What's next?
  • Post-Course Survey
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Works cited
  • Full list of references
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Helpful materials

The following may be useful to you when reading through the course:


This course contains a lot of detail on cryptography, and numerous maths examples which may use terminology and symbols you are not familiar with.

This Presentation offers:

  • A primer on cryptography
  • An introduction to some of the maths concepts used in this course

Course review

After completing the course you may find it useful to have a summary of what's been learnt as a take-away.

This Presentation includes the core content from this course in presentation form which can you download and refer back to.

Further reading


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