Hashing: The Ultimate Solution for your Data Security

Hashing made simple

Hashing is a technique primarily used to distribute data inputs uniformly across an array by coding it into a snippet.

It is a coding mechanism that converts any data inputs into a string of alphanumeric characters, and the output it generates is called a hash.

In other words, a hash value is the digital cryptographic impression of its base input value.

This cryptographic mathematical process adds an extra layer of protection to the input data.

Properties of a hashing function

1. Deterministic

Each hash value is unique, and the code remains constant regardless of the number of times you run the same data through the hashing algorithm.

2. Agility

Computing or calculating the hash of any amount of data by coming up with an identifier is very high-speed, ideally within a fraction of a second.

3. Avalanche Effect

The hash code output will always remain the same as long as the data does not get changed. However, a slight change in the input data will give different output data.

4. Pre-image resistance

Hashing is a one-way road to securing your data and storing it simply and effectively for permanent. Hash functions hide information about the input to make it difficult to determine the original message based on the output. There is no way of reversing the hashing process and transforming them to get back the original data.

5. Collision Resistance

It is tough to find collisions. Each input will have a unique hash. That means finding two distinct input hashes that produce the same output hash is virtually not possible.

Working procedure of hashing algorithm

The hashing algorithm takes the infinite arbitrary input of bits, applies calculations to them and gives a final output of a finite number of bits.

The most widely used hashing functions are MD5 (128-bit hash), SHA1 (160-bit hash) and SHA-256 (256-bit hash).

Types of hashing algorithm

The size of the hash files depends upon the algorithm that has been used to derive the output.

For example, when you use an SHA-256 algorithm for hashing, you will get a 256-bit hash output.

These are some of the standard hashing algorithms available, which are being used by many platforms for securing their classified data.

The different hashing algorithms have different purposes of serving; some are known for their security efficacy and some for the type of data input.

A quick look at the design of the algorithm

Representation of hashing algorithm

Different hashing algorithms

1. MD5- Message Digest algorithm 5

The MD family comprises of hash functions MD2, MD4, MD5 and MD6.

MD5 is the fastest hashing algorithm that was included in the .NET Framework, but the relatively small hash code size made it susceptible to brute force and birthday attacks.

In 2004, collisions were found in MD5. Further to the reports of this collision attack, its recommendation became less, since it’s security was compromised.

2. CRC32- Cyclic Redundancy Check

CRC32 is a checksum that derives a 32-bit long digest, that is used, for instance, to check if a compressed file was damaged while being transferred. In particular, they are used as a hash function in industrial networks, where the hardware capability is usually heavily bounded, and real cryptographic hashes can be a considerable choice.

3. SHA-1 – Secure Hashing Algorithm

NIST first developed SHA. SHA is specified as the hash algorithm in the Digital Signature Standard (DSS). It was later defined as the SHA-256, SHA-384, and SHA-512 algorithms, named after the length of the hash code that each produces. These new algorithms are variations of SHA-1 but are sufficiently recent that their cryptographic security remains open.

4. Tiger

Tiger is a cryptographic hash function with a 192-bit hash value. It usually truncates its output to form 160-bit and 128-bit hash functions.

Are there any possibilities of hashing attacks?

Now, if you are worrying over the chances that there can be a hash attack, then it is close to no.

A hash attack can only occur when two separate inputs generate the same hash output.

But since hash functions have infinite input length and a predefined output length, thus it is rare for a collision to occur.

So specifically it is preferred that we use a longer the hash value, so that the possibility of a hash attack gets less.

Applications of hash functions

1. It is used to check the file integrity of a transferred file sent by any user means to see if the data file was hampered or not by any third party, or whether the copying has been correct or not. If hashing is done, you can see that there are changes in the hash value, if it has been tampered.

2. Used for encrypting data signatures, or accumulating fingerprinting data, hashing them and then storing both the hashed values and data in some server.

3. When you are storing any bulk data into online cloud storage platforms like Google Drive, Dropbox data hashing will help in storage optimization because by hashing the file will be compressed to a fixed size. Even the performance glitches will be minimized as the size of the data will become manageable.

3. They are used for storing passwords of logins and later for verification procedure. Hashing is done to ensure that when the password is sent from client to server. The server then compares the hash value with the password, and if they sync, it means no corruption is there.

4. Used in scripting and occasionally for authentication in Cloud profiles so that you can ensure that the files are identical without even opening and comparing the enormous chunks of data.

5. To distinguish a specific file or to detect duplicates.

6. Even in data structures and programming languages like JAVA.

7. Besides, it is also applicable in data-onboarding, where offline data is anonymized by hashing algorithms to safeguard personally identifiable information in a privacy compliant manner.

About Sreejani

Sreejani is a biotechnologist by education. She prioritizes in pushing her limits in the online era with her remarkable rationality. An ardent disciple of contemplation and believer of efficacy while writing. Presently she is tweaking her grey cells emphasizing in content marketing and is eventually mutating into a digital nomad. Is enthusiastic about traveling, as nature gives her positive stimuli.

1 Comment

  1. Hashing can be used in various areas. However we seldom see companies using this technology and use the customer data to store as it is even though the technology is available. It takes enormous amount of effort to crack the hashed algorithms and I never saw someone decoding them. I suggest using salting + hashing to make the code impossible to crack. Thank you sreejani for spreading the awareness of this technology.

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