What is SHA in Information Security?

SHA stands for secure hashing algorithm. SHA is a modified version of MD5 and used for hashing information and certificates. A hashing algorithm shortens the input information into a smaller form that cannot be learned by utilizing bitwise operations, modular additions, and compression functions.

SHAs also help in revealing if an original message was transformed in any way. By imputing the original hash digest, a user can tell if even an individual letter has been shifted, as the hash digests will be effectively different.

The important element of SHAs are that they are deterministic. This define that consider the hash function used is known, any computer or user can regenerate the hash digest. The determinism of SHAs is one of main reasons that each SSL certificate on the Internet is needed to have been hashed with a SHA-2 function.

A secure hash algorithm is generally a pair of algorithms invented by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other government and private parties.

These private encryption or "file check" functions have derive to meet some of the top cybersecurity challenges of the 21st century, as multiple public service set work with federal government agencies to support better online security standards for organizations and the public.

There are multiple instances of these tools that were set up to support better digital security. The first one, SHA-0, was invented in 1993. Like its successor, SHA-1, SHA-0 features 16-bit hashing.

The next secure hash algorithm, SHA-2, includes a set of two functions with 256-bit and 512-bit technologies, respectively. There is also a top-level secure hash algorithm known as SHA-3 or "Keccak" that produced from a crowd sourcing contest to view who can design another new algorithm for cybersecurity.

All of these secure hash algorithms are an element of new encryption standards to keep sensitive information safe and avoid different types of attacks.

Although some of these were produced by agencies like the National Security Agency, and some by independent developers, all of them are associated to the general functions of hash encryption that shields information in specific database and network scenarios, providing to evolve information security in the digital age.

Digital certificates follow the same hashing structure, wherein the certificate file is hashed, and the hashed file is digitally signed by the CA issuing the certificate.

The essential part of any digital communication is authentication, that is, to create sure that the entity at the other end of the channel is authentically the one that the session initiator need to communicate with. That is why the TLS protocol provides a more stringent authentication measure that needs asymmetric cryptography.

Updated on: 14-Mar-2022

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