Everything You Need To Know About Hashing Algorithms

Data is one of the most valuable assets for organizations, especially in this digital and information era. There is an enormous amount of data being produced by enterprises. Modern technologies such as machine learning and big data are used effectively to harness and apply them to various fields, including research, administration, and other allied industries.

As a result, there has been an evolution of new techniques and processes required for protecting this vital data. Hashing is one such method that aims to protect personal data and is widely used in the cryptography and blockchain industry.
So, let’s get started and understand more about hashing and hashing algorithms in detail:

What Is Hashing?

The term hashing refers to the process of converting a specific key into another value by calculating the string value of a fixed size from a file. Hashing makes use of an algorithm for this purpose for mapping object-related data to a specific integer value. For example, the keys used for public encryption are hash values generated using a base input number.

The original input number can never be found without having information on the data used to get the hash value. On the other hand, a hashing function can obtain the new value depending on the hashing algorithm, where the resulting value is a hash or a hash value.

Hashing is an effective and secure approach used for identification and making a comparison between databases and files.

One of the key advantages of using hashing is to quickly convert the dataset into fixed-length series of characters, regardless of your input data size. For example-Hashes are used in cryptography for digital signatures, file verification, password verification, or message authentication. Cryptographic hash functions are suitable for SSL applications that require high encryption standards to keep the communications safe and secure for the users.

How Does Hashing Work?

It’s essential to remember that hashing is not the same as encryption. It is used to verify the information has been altered or not, while encryption protects and secures data in the transit process.

The SHA algorithm 256 will generate an output with a value of 256 bits, which is represented by a 64-character hexadecimal string. Remember that every hash value consists of unique characters, and if two different files generate the same hash value, then it is considered a collision, and then it is of no use.

What Is A Hashing Algorithm?

Hashing algorithms comprises a cryptographic hash function or an algorithm used to map data of arbitrary size into a fixed-size hash. They are used as a one-way function without any possibility to invert them such that it may not be possible to compromise the data in any manner. There have been many instances in the past few years where the hashing algorithm has been compromised.

Most of the hashing algorithms are used in hash tables for indexing the data for detection of duplicates, fingerprinting, and file identification purposes. These algorithms are used primarily by taking a standard input to derive a fixed length of string output at all times. However, collisions prove to be a challenge for hashing algorithms as there are greater possibilities of hackers generating inputs to get the same value.

In general, a reliable and effective hash function must make it nearly impossible for the attackers to generate the same value using a combination of inputs.

Features of an ideal cryptographic hash function include:

  • They must be able to compute the hash value for any data.
  • They must not allow for hash collisions and need to have a unique hash.
  • Modifications made to the message must change the hash value, and any change introduced must result in a different hash than the original one.

Top 3 Popular Hashing Algorithms 

MD5:   MD5 is one of the most widely known hashing algorithms, which is now highly ineffective on account of its vulnerabilities. One of the key reasons behind its failure as a hashing algorithm is the possibility of inserting malicious code into the document to generate the same hash output. MD5 was designed to be a cryptographic hashing algorithm but now has been declared as cryptographically broken and unsuitable for use by the CMU Software Engineering Institute.

SHA-Family Algorithm: Secure Hash Algorithm was designed in the United States (NSA), and their first algorithm was released in 1993. In 1995, SH-1 was introduced that generated a hash value of 160 bit, later improvised to a 40-digit hexadecimal number and had a fallout by 2010.

SHA-2 is regarded to be the safest version by far and combines many of the existing features of six SHA family algorithms. However, in 2006 the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) found a replacement to SHA-2, which is entirely different from the existing SHA-2 and is known to be part of the KECCAK family.

RACE Integrity Primitives Evaluation Message Digest (RIPEMD):  This comprises a group of functions introduced in 1992 by Hans Dobbertin, Bart Preneel, and Antoon Bosselaers. The idea for its development was taken from MD5, which was considered a weak hash function. There are different types of RIPE MD functions, including the RIPEMD-128, 160, 256, and 320, and they tend to work well with 32-bit processors.

Conclusion

Hashing algorithms have many applications, especially when it comes to verifying the authenticity of documents and ensuring that it reaches the intended recipients in its original format. However, with advances in technology and innovation, even hashing algorithms are vulnerable and could be compromised.

Thus, it’s essential to follow the best security practices and integrate new technologies into the hashing algorithms that are designed to provide a high level of protection to the users.

Article contributed by CheapSSLShop
 
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