Welcome to cryptography

cryptography is a Python library which exposes cryptographic recipes and primitives. Our goal is for it to be your “cryptographic standard library”. If you are interested in learning more about the field of cryptography, we recommend Crypto 101, by Laurens Van Houtven.


You can install cryptography with pip:

$ pip install cryptography

See Installation for more information.

Why a new crypto library for Python?

If you’ve done cryptographic work in Python before, you’ve probably seen some other libraries in Python, such as M2Crypto, PyCrypto, or PyOpenSSL. In building cryptography we wanted to address a few issues we observed in the existing libraries:

  • Lack of PyPy and Python 3 support.
  • Lack of maintenance.
  • Use of poor implementations of algorithms (i.e. ones with known side-channel attacks).
  • Lack of high level, “Cryptography for humans”, APIs.
  • Absence of algorithms such as AES-GCM and HKDF.
  • Poor introspectability, and thus poor testability.
  • Extremely error prone APIs, and bad defaults.


cryptography is broadly divided into two levels. One with safe cryptographic recipes, “cryptography for humans” if you will. These are safe and easy to use and don’t require developers to make many decisions.

The other level is low-level cryptographic primitives. These are often dangerous and can be used incorrectly. They require making decisions and having an in-depth knowledge of the cryptographic concepts at work. Because of the potential danger in working at this level, this is referred to as the “hazardous materials” or “hazmat” layer. These live in the cryptography.hazmat package, and their documentation will always contain an admonition at the top.

We recommend using the recipes layer whenever possible, and falling back to the hazmat layer only when necessary.

The cryptography open source project


cryptography has not been subjected to an external audit of its code or documentation. If you’re interested in discussing an audit please get in touch.