Cryptology, Cryptography, and Cryptanalysis – Get your Vocabulary Straight!

Many new developers are jumping right into coding (usually for those fat paychecks) without learning much about the history of Computer Science. People regarded Alan Turing as the father of Computer Science. He was first a cryptologist and mathematician. Then, he pioneered the field of CS in order to solve cryptological problems.

alan turing
Alan Turing

In this article, I will go over common crypto-related definitions for those who may be unfamiliar.


The scientific study of cryptography and cryptanalysis.

Cryptology is the science of secret messages. Therefore, anything that has to do with making or breaking codes falls into cryptology’s domain.


Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties called adversaries.

People often lazily use Cryptography in place of the word cryptology, but in reality, cryptography focuses only on creating secure cryptosystems. For example, the design of RSA would have been cryptography work.


You use Cryptanalysis to breach cryptographic security systems and gain access to the contents of encrypted messages, even if the cryptographic key is unknown.

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Cryptanalysis is the inverse of cryptography, this is, in contrast, the study of how to break secret codes, not make them. Having a solid understanding of cryptanalysis is fundamental in cryptography however, as one must know their enemy.

Honorable Mention – Cryptocurrency

cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and also verify the transfer of assets.

In the past few years, the slang term “crypto” has been hijacked. It used to mean cryptography or cryptanalysis but has recently come to be understood as cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin utilize cryptographic techniques to securely transfer digital assets without a central authority.

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