Data protection techniques are a welcome development. They enhance data accuracy and usability. Hence, hashing is a popular topic in cybersecurity discourse.
The increase in demand for data has heightened interest in anonymization processes, and the best approach to this is hashing.
This article will teach you the benefits of hashing and how it works.
What Is Hashing?
Assuming you bought a new phone and its shrink wrap is torn, it is an indication that it has been opened, used, replaced, or even damaged. Hashing is much the same but for data instead of physical objects.
In the same way, hashing is like a virtual shrink wrap put on software or data to inform users if it has been replaced or used in any way.
Hashing is the algorithm that calculates a string value from a file, which is of a fixed size. It contains tons of data, transformed into a short fixed key or value. Usually, a summary of the information or data is in the original sent file.
Hashing is one of the best and most secure ways to identify and compare databases and files. It transforms data to a fixed size without considering the initial data input. The received output is known as hash value or code. Moreover, the term “hash” can be used to describe both the value and hash function.
What Are the Benefits of Hashing?
There are many benefits of hashing, including modern-day cryptography hash functions. Some of these benefits are listed below.
1. Data Retrieval
One of the benefits of hashing is that it uses algorithms to map object data to an integer value. A hash is beneficial because it can be used to narrow down searches when locating items on the object data map.
For example, hash tables in the form of key and value pairs help you identify the data and operate as an input hash function. The hash code is then mapped to a fixed size.
Hash tables support functions such as Insert (key, value), Get (key), and Delete (key).
2. Digital Signatures
Signing documents digitally is a common practice today. Apart from data retrieval, hashing also helps encrypt and decrypt digital signatures used to authenticate message senders and receivers. A hash helps to transform the digital signature that is both the hash value and the signature, and is sent in separate transmission to the receiver.
After it has been sent, the hash will be compared with the transmitted message to ensure both are the same. In a one-way hashing operation, the hash function indexes the original value or key and enables access to data associated with a specific value or key that is retrieved.
The simplest method of digital signature is to create a hash of the information sent and encrypt it with your private key (of your asymmetric cryptography key pair) so that anyone with your public key can see the real hash and verify the content is valid.
3. Password Security
Creating strong passwords is an effective way of keeping intruders at bay.
One of the benefits of hashing is that its password cannot be modified, stolen, or changed. This is commendable, especially as cyberattackers can maneuver passwords with the use of brute-force attacks. It is an effective key encryption scheme that cannot be misused. If the hash code is stolen, it will be useless because it cannot be applied anywhere else. Website owners use this method to secure the passwords of their users.
How Does Hashing Work?
Hashing is a one-way cryptographic function because hashes are irreversible. The output of a hashing doesn’t allow you to recreate the contents of a file. However, it allows you to know whether two files are similar without knowing their content.
Let’s look at how hashing works.
1. Message-Digest Algorithm
One of the ways hashing works is through the message-digest algorithm. A part of the hash functions relies on hash for generating a unique value and a unique symmetric key. This algorithm is also known as an encryption-only algorithm because it can generate exceptional value that can never be decrypted.
The Message-digest algorithm works by helping you to process a variable-length message into a fixed-length output of about 128bits. This input message will then be broken up into chunks of 512 bits.
Hashing works through the Whirlpool algorithm because it is one of the hash functions. Originally, Whirlpool was called Whirlpool-0, but after several divisions, it was known as Whirlpool-T, then later known as Whirlpool.
It is a cryptographically secure hash function and has no weakness relevant to hashing secrets. However, using Whirlpool directly for password hashing is bad because it is fast and allows hackers to guess many passwords within a second.
Whirlpool works by taking a message less than 2256bit and returning it to a 512-bit message digest. It is also used free of charge for any purpose.
3. Rivest–Shamir–Adleman (RSA)
Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) is one of the algorithms used for hashing. Modern computers mainly use it for encryption and decryption of a message. It is a cryptographic algorithm that uses both public key and private key, where the encryption is done in the public key and decryption is done in the private key.
Hashing works by using RSA because RSA creates and publishes private and public keys based on large prime numbers and an additional value. The prime numbers are kept secret. Messages can be encrypted and decrypted by you, but can be decoded only if you know the prime numbers.
4. Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA)
Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA) is a family of cryptographic functions designed to keep and store data. It works by transforming data using a hash function, but it cannot be transformed to the original data. This is because it is an algorithm that includes bitwise operations, compression functions, and modular additions, and it is used for the encryption of passwords.
Leveraging Hashing for Data Security
Hashing is a tool in computer security that can tell you when two files are identical and secure to avoid a collision.
Sometimes, files may look like by having the same functionality and behavior but not the same hash. So relying on hash for detection is a good approach and will ensure that your data isn’t compromised.
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