Ciphers and Cybersecurity in Other Fields

Cybersecurity First Principles in this lesson


In this lesson, we will learn about ciphers and basic cryptography and how it can apply to cybersecurity and other areas of education. We will go over a brief history of the usage of ciphers and how they work.


By the end of this tutorial, you will be able to:

Materials Required

Prerequisite lessons


Table of Contents

Step 1: Learn all the words!

Plaintext/Cleartext - an unaltered message as it’s intended to be read

Ciphertext – message that has been changed so its meaning is concealed

Encryption/enciphering – changing plaintext to ciphertext

Decryption/deciphering – changing ciphertext back into plaintext

Key – secret value needed to encrypt and/or decrypt

Cryptographic Algorithm/cipher – a standard sequence of computational steps to encrypt or decrypt a message using a key

Cryptanalysis – practice of analyzing encrypted messages to reveal the plaintext without knowing the key

Strength – determines how much effort and how long it takes to break a ciphertext

Step 2: Ciphers

We will discuss the usages and history of each of these ciphers.

Step 3: Cryptanalysis

Step 4: Practice decrypting and encrypting

Using the cipher rings we will practice encoding and decoding.

Cipher Rings

Self Exploration

Try some different encryption yourself.


In this lesson, we saw how encryption can be used for data hiding. Multiple encryption rounds can also be used as for layering.

Additional Resources

For more information, investigate the following:

Lead Author


Special thanks to Dr. Robin Gandhi for reviewing and editing earlier versions of this lesson.


Nebraska GenCyber Creative Commons License
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Overall content: Copyright (C) 2017-2018 Dr. Matthew L. Hale, Dr. Robin Gandhi, Dr. Briana B. Morrison, and Doug Rausch.

Lesson content: Copyright (C) Chris Daniels 2017.
Creative Commons License
This lesson is licensed by the author under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.