Book Review: Hacking Secret Ciphers with Python

Hacking Secret Ciphers with Python is a free introductory textbook on cryptography, computer programming and the Python programming language written by Albert Sweigert, a software developer from San Francisco.  Hacking Secret Ciphers with Python is Sweigert's third book on Python, and the first that teaches the programming language through cryptography and traditional cryptographic protocols.

Published under a creative commons license, the work can be read for free online, downloaded as a .pdf or purchased from Amazon, with all proceeds going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons and the Tor Project.  From the book's description:
“Hacking Secret Ciphers with Python” teaches complete beginners how to program in the Python programming language. The reader not only learns about several classical ciphers, but also how to write programs that encrypt and hack these ciphers. The full source code is given and explained line-by-line for ciphers such as the Caesar cipher, transposition cipher, simple substitution cipher, multiplicative & affine ciphers, Vigenere cipher, and hacking programs for each of these ciphers. The final chapters cover public key cryptography and the modern RSA cipher.
Clocking in at 416 pages, the book is broken down into 24 chapters covering virtually everything from the ancient Caesar Cipher to modern public key cryptography.  It thus provides a practical overview of the history of cryptography, while simultaneously introducing the reader to progressively more advanced aspects of the Python programming language. 

The book begins at the beginning, showing the reader first how to create rudimentary ciphers with paper and scissors.  It then gives a quick introduction on how to install Python, how to work with the interactive shell, and provides a quick overview of Python basics before jumping in to its first major coding chapter on the Reverse Cipher.  For each cipher covered in the book, it provides the Python code to run that cipher, followed by a chapter covering a second program that can be used to hack that cipher.  Python basics are covered in the analysis of the code used to create and then hack the given cipher.

Highly recommended for beginner to intermediate Python programmers who are interested in cryptography.  And since it is available free online, you can dive right in.

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