I'm an amateur math/crypto/CS passionate, but I find myself without any degree or certification that gives credit to my skill-set, specially on math and crypto. Currently I'm designing cryptosystem on non-commutative cryptography, trying to cryptoanalise my own trapdoor functions, measuring security parameters, testing new platform groups, etc. Eventually I write down all my investigations and write a paper if it's something to take into consideration.

I think that a professional on the field would classify my work as pure recreational, but I'd like to dedicate my working life as someone who uses math/crypto at computer security level.

Is there any degree/title/certification that is respectable and valuable enough? By "valuable enough" I mean that does not just cover the basics and that must be updated to nowadays times.


closed as primarily opinion-based by e-sushi Sep 28 '18 at 22:59

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    $\begingroup$ I am not aware of any in the field of cryptography itself. In the security area, there are certifications, e.g. CISSP. The reason might be, many certifications are mostly relevant in the business world, and there security plays a big role while cryptography is mostly research. $\endgroup$ – tylo Sep 26 '18 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ A degree? Like, a PhD in a cryptography field? $\endgroup$ – forest Sep 26 '18 at 13:50

Cryptography is a quite academic field. Outside of universities, practice of cryptography tends to be "applied crypto", which feeds on academic papers while contributing its own perspective on things, in particular with regards to implementation issues. In any case, this means that whatever you do in cryptography will involve reading a lot of research papers, and, correspondingly, the formal degrees about it are academic. If you want to go that road and be recognized as a "cryptographer" through certifications and degrees, then go get a PhD or at the very least a Master's degree in cryptography.

There are alternate roads to building your crypto street cred:

  • You might demonstrate your deep knowledge of the field by flooding some well-known public forums or Q&A sites (e.g. this very site, crypto.stackexchange.com) with hundreds of well-researched and explained answers that make people instinctively think of you as "that guy knows his stuff".

  • While paper publication in peer-reviewed conferences or journals is a difficult art, "publishing" software implementations is simple; you just have to create a free GitHub account, and roll with it. If you manage to write some kick-ass piece of crypto software, that people find useful and appears to be of high coding quality, then you could also gain some reasonable level of recognition.

  • There occasionally are some "cryptographic competitions" (some are referenced here; an ongoing one is the NIST call for Post-Quantum algorithms) in which anybody can submit a "candidate". This is substantial work, and little glory is achieved if it gets broken right away. But if a candidate survives one or two rounds, then it can lend some credibility to the authors.

The common theme in all of these is that you should show, at all times, that you understand the academic side of things, and you know not to make unsubstantiated outrageous claims of security.

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    $\begingroup$ A note on the first bullet point: Reputation (points) and competency are not necessarily correlated. There are plenty of knowledge users that don't have high rep, due to not being very active. So be sure to judge by a users Q/As, rather than rep. $\endgroup$ – Ella Rose Sep 26 '18 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Thomas Pornin: Thanks for your time. Been recognized as a cryptographer is something I don't want to, but as someone that can deploy crypto, tending to be security schemes applied to software, networking, hardware and eventually contributing to the community with the research done. I see that the norm is going for a PhD on security related fields that involve cryptography (seems like there are no masters that only cover Cryptography as a one on my country) $\endgroup$ – kub0x Sep 26 '18 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ As for "and you know not to make unsubstantiated outrageous claims of security" I respect the work of others, making non sense security affirmations deceives and masks a false sensation of security, also would harm myself and my credibility. $\endgroup$ – kub0x Sep 26 '18 at 15:59

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