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What is Hashing Algorithm & How Does It Work?

Hashing Algorithm – One of the Methods for Sending Essential Files

In an online era, data is one of the most valuable parts of a day-to-day basis. It has become one of the essential factors in several things like public administration, scientific research, and an ever-growing digital economy. Moreover, it’s one of the dependent factors for promising technologies like Machine Learning and Big Data. Thus, the increasing demand for data has involved a revived interest in anonymization techniques and processes. And, one of the approaches used is Hashing, which is used for providing additional protection whenever personal data is processed.

Here’s What’s Hashing

Hashing is one of the algorithms which calculates a string value from a file, which is of a fixed size. Basically, it contains blocks of data, which is transformed into a short fixed-length key or value from the original string. Usually, a summary of the information or data within that sent file.

Moreover, it’s one of the convenient and secure ways when it comes to identifying or comparing databases and files. It’s the process which transforms the dataset into a fixed-length character series, without considering the size of input data. And the received output is known as hash value, digest, code, or simply hash. Additionally, the term “hash” is used for describing both the hash function as well as the hash value.

To put it another way, it’s majorly used for confirming the originality of the sent message. For example, if you send a file and you want to know whether it has been sent to an intended user without any change or not, then there’s the number of ways to check, like contacting the addressee or verifying the file and one of the approaches is also this hashing algorithm.

Let’s dig into the detail and understand: Hash Function & Hashing Algorithm.

What’s the Hash Function?

A Hash function is a typical mathematical function which is used for mapping data of different size into the fixed-sized values. It’s a mathematical function that is used for converting an input value into a compressed format numerical value called a hash value or simply hashed.
hashing-algorithm
Here the length of the output depends upon the hashing algorithm, which is generally around 160 to 512 bits.

Let’s move further and explore what’s hashing algorithm.

What is Hashing Algorithm & How Hashing Algorithm Work?

Generally, the Hash function is at the heart of a hashing algorithm. But, to get the hash-value of a pre-defined length first, it’s required to divide the input data into the blocks of fixed-sized, because a hash function takes data in a fixed length. Also, these blocks are known as data blocks, which are shown in the below-mentioned image.
hash-function-structure
Here, the size of these data blocks differs depending upon the algorithm. Though, for some of the algorithms, it’s the same. For example, the message of 1024-bit gets divided into two different blocks of 512-bit length while running the hash function twice. On the other hand, if the message is of exactly 512-bit length, then the hash function will run only for once.

However, there’s no guarantee that the message will be in multiples of 512 bits. In some cases, a technique named Padding is used, where the whole message is divided equally in a fixed size of data blocks. The below example shows how the data blocks are processed.

the-avalanche-effect-in-hashing
As shown in the above image, each block is processed separately. And, the output of the first data block is sent like an input along with the second data block. Thus, the output of the latter is sent along with the third data block, and so on. Ultimately, coming with the final output, which is the combined values of all the data blocks. So, even a change of one bit in between the message will change the entire hash value – known as the avalanche effect.

An Ideal Hash Cryptographic Hash Functions Are:

  • Fast to compute the hash value regardless of the data.
  • Once hashing is done, it’s almost impossible to generate a message in its original form.
  • Should be able to avoid hash collisions. For every message, it has its hash value.
  • Even a small change should make a change in the entire hash value. Also known as the avalanche effect.

Here Are Some of the Popular Hashing Algorithms:

1. MD (Message Digest) Algorithm

It’s one of the widely used cryptographic hash function which relies upon the hash functions for generating a unique value, computed using the data and a unique symmetric key. Moreover, message digest algorithms are also known as encryption-only algorithms because of its capability to generate an exceptional value that can never be decrypted.

2. Whirlpool

In cryptography, the Whirlpool algorithm is one of the hash functions. It’s based on an AES-like block cipher. Originally, Whirlpool was called Whirlpool-0, and later on, the revisions were made, and the first revision was known as Whirlpool-T and latest version as the Whirlpool.

3. Rivest–Shamir–Adleman (RSA)

RSA (Rivest–Shamir–Adleman) is one of the algorithms used by today’s modern computers for encryption and decryption of the message. It’s an asymmetric cryptographic algorithm, which makes use of two different keys called the public key and private key, where the encryption is done using the public key, and decryption is done using the private key.

4. RACE Integrity Primitives Evaluation Message Digest (RIPEMD)

RIPEMD function was initially designed within the framework of the 1992 EU project RIPE (RACE Integrity Primitives Evaluation). In the beginning, its design was based upon MD4 hash function, but later in 1996, as a response to the security weaknesses of the RIPEMD, it was again updated, and four strengthened variants got published, namely, RIPEMD-128, RIPEMD-160, RIPEMD-256, and RIPEMD-320. Moreover, these RIPEMD functions are less popular compared to SHA-2, and they’re generally used among others such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies based upon Bitcoin.

5. Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA)

SHA published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a family of cryptographic functions designed for keeping data secured. It’s intended to be one-way functions, which means once the data are changed into the hash values, it’s not possible to transform it back to the original data. Some of the SHA algorithms are SHA-1, SHA-2, and SHA-3. For example, the SHA algorithm is useful for the encryption of the passwords.

Summary

Hashing is quite useful in many ways. But these cryptographic hash functions are remarkably used in IT. Also, it’s used for message authentication codes (MACs), digital signatures, and other different types of authentication.

Moreover, it’s also useful for the identification of the files, indexing of data in hash tables, detecting duplicate data, or as checksums to detect there’s no accidental or intentional corruption of data in the sent file. Lastly, for security purposes, it’s recommended to use hashing algorithms equipped with the newest technologies.

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