Hashing and Encryption, do you know what these are? Some might have heard the names before and believe they are the same. But that is not the case at all. You see, much of the data that is moving around on the web right now are mostly coded or converted into many forms.
Hashing vs Encryption differences explained
Many might believe that encryption and hashing are the same, but such is not the case. We will explain everything in the simplest way possible.
The two most important cryptographic operations used on most computing devices are encryption and hashing. Now that we know that the big question right now is how do these operations work, and how they are different from each other in the grand scheme of things.
What is Encryption?
Encryption is a way of scrambling data so that only those who have been authorized can look at the information. To make things more technical, it is the process of converting plain text readable by humans to ciphertext. For it to work, folks will require the use of a cryptographic key.
Chances are you’ve come across a multitude of VPN advertisements on the web stating how they deal with your internet traffic by encrypting the data so that prying eyes cannot view it. However, encryption is more than just a thing used by VPN companies, it stretches far beyond into many places.
You see, many users on the web are taking advantage of encryption practices without knowing it. This is quite common, especially on the web, and it will be the case for many years to come.
- Cryptography key, what is it?: A cryptography key is a string of characters that are used inside of an encryption algorithm to modify data so that it appears random. Similar to a physical key, it locks computer data so that only the person with the correct key can gain access.
- The different types of encryptions: There are two types of encryptions, and they are asymmetric encryption and symmetric encryption. When it comes down to symmetric encryption, it comes with a single key, and all communication parties involved are required to use the same key to encrypt and decrypt. As for asymmetric encryption, well, there are two keys. One is used for encryption while the other is used for decryption.
What is Hashing?
OK, so hashing is a popular cryptographic process that was designed to validate the integrity and authenticity of several types of input. It is primarily used in authentication systems to prevent storing of human-readable passwords in databases. Additionally, folks can use hashing to validate files and other types of data.
Now, if hashing is not used correctly, then it could lead to massive data breaches on a broad scale. Still, deciding not to use hashing to secure sensitive information is not advisable.
Now, let us discuss some of the different types of hashing you might not have heard about.
- MD5: This hash function encodes multiple strings of information. Not only that, but it can encode it into a 128-bit fingerprint. For the most part, MD5 is used as a checksum to verify the integrity of data. Bear in mind, however, that MD5 suffers from vulnerabilities due to its age, but that hasn’t stopped it from being one of the most used algorithms today.
- SHA-2: What we have here is a cryptographic hash function that was originally developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). It comes packed with six hash functions, and they are SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512, SHA-512/224, SHA-512/256. As for the supported hash values, they are 224, 256, 384, or 512 bits.
- CRC32: This hash is called a cyclic redundancy check (CRC), and it’s an error-detecting code mostly used for detecting accidental changes to important data. We should point out that if the same data string is encoded with CRC32, then the hash output will always be the same result. From what we have gathered thus far, CRC32 is primarily used in FTP servers and ZIP files.
What is the difference between Encryption and Hashing?
Here’s the thing, encryption is designed to work from both ways. For example, if a file is encrypted, then another person with the correct ciphertext or secret key can decrypt the file to view its contents.
Hashing is quite different because it is a one-way street, which means, once a file or password is hashed, there is no going back. This is why privacy-focused companies tend to use hashing for passwords to make sure not even themselves can view the data once the process is complete.
It’s quite effective, though that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof because nothing in this world is.
How is hashing used?
Hashing is more of a one-way function where to a fixed-length value, data is mapped. Hashing is primarily used for authentication.
Why is encryption used?
Encryption helps to safeguard private information, hypersensitive data and can improve the security of communication between client apps and servers.