Introduction to Cryptanalysis of Symmetric Ciphers

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Objectives and Content:

The course gives an introduction to cryptanalysis. Roughly, the goal of cryptanalysis is given a siffer-text find the plain-text. Basic cryptanalytic attacks against symmetric ciphers are introduced.


The course contains three chapters. The historical ciphers chapter deals with analysis of various substitution and transposition ciphers, Hagelin cipher, and Geheimschreiber. The stream ciphers part contains time-memory trade-offs, attacks based on Berlekamp-Massey algorithm, correlation and algebraic attacks, 2-adic cryptanalysis. The block cipher chapter explains meet-in-the-middle attacks and linear and differential cryptanalysis.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:

The student

  • should have knowledge of mathematical foundations of symmetric ciphers security,
  • should have knowledge of basic algebra and probability theory applications in cryptanalysis,
  • should have knowledge of how basic cryptanalytic attacks work.

The student

  • is able to explain mathematical foundations of the security of ciphers
  • digest and explain how cryptographic primitive work
  • implement basic cryptanalytic attacks

General competence
The student

  • is familiar with new ideas and innovation processes
  • can exchange opinions with others with relevant background and participate in discussions concerning the development of good practice.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Bachelor / Master

Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
For incoming exchange students: At least 60 ECTS in Computer Science and at least 10 ECTS in mathematics
Recommended Previous Knowledge
INF100 or equivalent, INF240, MAT121, STAT110 is highly recommended. INF140, INF142, INF143, INF242 is recommended.
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a programme of study at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Compulsory assignments are valid for one subsequent semester .
Forms of Assessment
The forms of assessment are:
  • Written examination or Digital written examination (3 hours). Mandatory assignments may be graded and included in the final grade.
Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Examination both spring semester and autumn semester. In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.
Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and December 1st for the spring semester
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department
Examination Support Material

Non-programmable calculator, according to the faculty regulations



Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
Course Coordinator
Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB, or contact Student adviser
Course Administrator
The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences represented by the Department of Informatics is the course administrator for the course and study programme.