A cryptographer is one who practices or studies cryptography, a field primarily involved with keeping secret information secret. Modern cryptography is mostly concerned with encrypting digital information, such as e-mail, to protect it as it's sent from one digital source to another. Data security is extremely important to nearly all people, not just for those with very sensitive information. Every transaction or interaction that one makes on the Internet could be detected and read by other individuals if proper security measures were not in place. The cryptographer ensures that only people with the right authorization can view certain data.
A cryptographer has several goals when working to encrypt data. One goal is authentication, the process of proving the identity of one attempting to access a given piece of information. Privacy is another goal; it involves ensuring that a given piece information only reaches its intended viewer. The cryptographer must also ensure that a secure message is not altered in any way between the sender and the receiver. He must be able to determine with certainty the identity of the sender so that one cannot send a message and claim it came from someone else.
One wishing to become a cryptographer generally studies computer science in college. If one wishes to keep data in computer systems encrypted, it is essential to know and understand the workings of such computer systems. Upon finishing college, a graduate degree in mathematics or in computer science is also very beneficial to a career in cryptography. Mathematics are very important to the study and practice of cryptography, so it is important to have a firm grasp of the subject.
Upon receiving a degree, a cryptographer can seek work in a variety of places, as many kinds of companies and government agencies hire cryptographers on a regular basis. Government agencies, such as the National Security Agency (NSA), tend to hire many cryptographers; such agencies are responsible for encrypting important government data transmissions. A cryptographer might also find work at a bank, as banks go to great lengths to ensure their clients' transactions are secure.
Throughout history, various military forces have also made use of cryptographers to send encrypted messages from one point to another. Often, it was important to keep certain information, such as strategies and technological information, away from the enemy forces. In modern times, it is important to keep information stored on computers and digital communications secret from enemy forces.