Hashing vs Encryption: What’s the difference?

In the realm of data security, encryption and hashing are frequently contrasted, but why is this so? Encryption is a two-way function in which data is passed in as plaintext and comes out as unreadable ciphertext. Because encryption is two-way, the data may be decrypted and read again. Hashing, on the other hand, is a one-way process in which the plaintext gets scrambled into a unique digest that cannot be decrypted using a salt. Although hashing may be reversed technically, the computer power required to decrypt it makes decryption impractical.

A hashing algorithm is used to do hashing. This approach is most successful when it is collision resistant. Collision resistance refers to the fact that each digest is distinct from the others. This means that the hashing method must be sophisticated enough to avoid overlapping hashes while not being too complicated to generate hashes quickly. There are two forms of encryption, and both encryption and hashing have a number of common methods.

What is Hashing

Hashing is the process of employing a hash function to convert any data of any size into a fixed-length result. A hash value, hash code, digest, checksum, or simply hash is a fixed-length number. Hashing is used in two primary areas of computer systems −

To determine the integrity of a file or message during network transport. User A, for example, can transmit a file to user B and include the hash value in the original message. User B can calculate the hash value of the received file. User B is certain that the file integrity is intact if both hash values match.

Hash Function

The hash value of the provided data is computed by a hash function, which is an underlying algorithm. A hash function is a one-way algorithm, which is one of its most intriguing aspects. We can compute the hash value from the given data, but not the other way around. As a result, it is impossible to deduce the message from a hash value.

What is Encryption?

The process of converting data from one form to another is known as data encryption. Plaintext refers to the unencrypted form of data, whereas ciphertext refers to the encrypted form. A secret key is used to decipher the ciphertext.

The primary goal of encrypting data is to maintain data confidentiality while it is stored on computer systems or transported over the network to other computers. Modern data encryption techniques provide critical security characteristics such as authentication, integrity, and non-repudiation, as well as ensuring data confidentiality.

The authentication function enables the origin of communication to be verified. The integrity feature checks to see if the contents of a message have changed since it was sent. Non-repudiation also ensures that the sender of communication cannot deny sending it.

Types of Encryption

Encryption can be either Symmetric or Asymmetric.

Symmetric encryption

Symmetric-key encryption encrypts and decrypts data using the same secret key. The main advantage of this kind is that it is far quicker than asymmetric encryption. The disadvantage is that the sender must exchange the encryption key with the recipient in order for the receiver to decode it.

Organisations have adapted to use an asymmetric method to exchange the secret key after employing a symmetric technique to encrypt data to avoid the additional burden of securely exchanging the secret key.

Asymmetric Encryption

Asymmetric Encryption, often known as public-key cryptography, is a kind of encryption. This is because the encryption procedure uses two separate keys, one public and one private. The public key, as its name suggests, can be shared with everyone, while the private key must be kept private −

The Rivest-Sharmir-Adleman (RSA) algorithm is a widely used public-key encryption technique for securing sensitive information. The popularity of the RSA method stems from the fact that it can encrypt a message using both public and private keys to ensure confidentiality, integrity, authenticity, and non-repudiability of sent data.

Difference between Hashing and Encryption

The data that has been hashed into an unreadable string cannot be converted back into a readable string, whereas in encryption, with the use of cryptographic keys, the encrypted data may be decoded and turned into a string of readable letters (plaintext information).

The length of the illegible characters is fixed in hashing but there is no set length for the illegible characters in encryption.

In hashing, keys are not used but keys are used to encrypt information in encryption. Only public keys are used for symmetric encryption. Both public and private keys are utilised in asymmetric encryption.

Updated on: 23-Mar-2022


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