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What is a cryptographic hash?

What Hashing means:
Hashing is a mathematical function designed to take a long string of characters and turn it into a shorter fixed string. Mostly you will hear this term in reference to cryptographic hash functions and password security. Showing is easier to understand so please read on.

In this example, someone has broken into a company and is looking at a file containing usernames and passwords.

Not Hashed:
Username: Little John        Password: Robinhood1234
Username: Maid Marian     Password: IlovemyRobinhoodapp

Hashed:
(In this example, the usernames are not hashed, only the passwords.)
Username: Little John        Password: 90b6dd94f55e7b1dcf55ec7acef78af0
Username: Maid Marian     Password: bc0cf5e4f667651abe8966eeb55d0d03

There are many types of hashes used for different purposes. The ones used here are the actual MD5 hashes for those passwords. MD5 isn’t used in security settings anymore because it’s been badly broken. However, it remains useful for other purposes (such as this demo or to verify the download integrity of large files) where security isn’t a concern.




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