Hashing Algorithm Overview: Types, Methodologies, and Usage

Data security and its integrity have become two of the most important features that one cannot overemphasize in contemporary society, given the advancement of technology. Among the most important of them are hashing algorithms, which play an important role in providing this security. Such algorithms are very important in almost all branches of computer science and technology, for example, cryptography, data structures, and databases. This blog post will focus on giving a general introduction to hashing algorithms, the general classification of hashing algorithms, possible approaches of these algorithms.

Hashing Algorithms: An Overview

Hashing techniques are algorithms that map data, regardless of its size, to a fixed size. This process is called hashing. Closely related to the hashing algorithm, the result of the algorithm is termed a hash value, hash code, hash sum, checksum, or simply hash. Such algorithms are made deterministic, which implies that the end product depends only on the inputs given to the system or program.

The choice of hashing algorithms has the following properties: 

  • First, they are deterministic, and this suggests that any given input will produce a known output. 
  • Second, they are well suited for applications that require fast responses or calculations because they are very efficient in this sense. 
  • Third, they produce a fixed size of output; this is in contrast with other functions that can have a size that is proportional to the size of their input. 

This property is known as the avalanche effect. In this, one can affix a definition as the process of creating an independent foundation on other new foundations.

Types of Hashing Algorithms

Message Digest 5 (MD5): MD5 simply means Message Digest number 5, and it is a hash function used in providing hash values of length 128 bits. It was developed in the year 1991. However, the current position is that MD5 is no longer secure due to the fact that collision weaknesses have been developed. Interference occurs when another input yields the same hash value as the one intended to be hashed.

Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA): SHA denotes a set of cryptographic hash algorithms produced by the NSA. The most commonly used hash functions are SHA-1 and SHA-2, out of which are derived SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512, SHA-512/224, SHA-512/256, and SHA-3. It is also considered non-secure because of the collision risks in SHA-1. SHA-2 and SHA-3 are more frequently used nowadays and are generally thought not to be susceptible to any attacker or attempts to crack the algorithms.

RACE Integrity Primitives Evaluation Message Digest (RIPEMD): RIPEMD is a hash function that was designed in the European Union. The most commonly used variant is RIPEMD-160, for which interfacing is employed in the Bitcoin application. Collision resistance is another important aspect of the hash functions, and RIPEMD-160 is specially developed to be away from it.

Whirlpool: Whirlpool is an AES-based cryptographic hash function that follows the standard AES instruction set. They refer to Vincent Rijmen and Paulo S. L. M. Barreto, who designed it. Whirlpool is positioned to withstand various forms of attacks, such as collision attacks and preimage attacks. 

Methodologies for Hashing Algorithms:

Hashing algorithms employ various techniques in mapping the data to be stored with a unique hash value. These include:

Division Method: This technique works by factoring the key value by the size of the hash table and taking the modulus of this result as the hash value. This method is quite effective, but it may cause what is referred to as a hashing collision, where several keys will be mapped to the same hash value.

Multiplication Method: Here, a key value is first multiplied with a constant value (A, where 0 < A < 1) to obtain the hash value. Like the division method, this method is less easy to implement but is somewhat more effective in minimizing clustering than most other methods.

Universal Hashing: In this instance, it involves choosing an appropriate hash function from a family of hash functions in order to hash the key value. When implemented, these methods can greatly minimize the risks of collisions.

Cryptographic Hashing: This technique involves the ‘hashing’ of one or more pieces of information using cryptographic principles. When hash functions are implemented, they are usually safe against different kinds of attacks, such as collisions and preimages. 

Usage of Hashing Algorithms

Hashing algorithms have importance in many areas of computer science, like cryptography, data structures, databases, distributed computing, and most popularly, modern-era blockchain technology. In cryptography, they are utilized for password authentication as they store the hashed password and compare it with the entered password, boosting the aspect of security. In data structures, hashing uses algorithms in order to store keys and associate them with numbers that are the indices in the table; this allows for an average case-time complexity of O(1) for searches and storing of data.

In a DBMS, hashing algorithms are used for indexing and partitioning data by mapping the keys onto the hash functions. Indexing is the process of associating an address on the disk with keys, making it easy to access the data, while partitioning involves the use of hash functions to divide data among several servers and is preferred for scaling up the data. Consistent hashing, which is a special form of hashing, is performed in distributed systems to create load balance by assigning the given keys to a circular space of several servers so that it can conveniently add or remove a server.

Moreover, in blockchain technology, hash functions play the role of providing data consistency and alteration proof. A block in the blockchain has information about the SHA-256 of the previous block, hence forming a chain. This makes it impossible for anyone to modify any of the data within a block since this will alter the hash of that block, thus disrupting the chain we see in the blocks and pointing to the fact that an attempt at altering the data in that block has been made. This also makes blockchain data safe and resilient to technological hacks and other types of cyber threats.


It is important to note that hashing algorithms play a critical role in protecting data and its accuracy. They offer an effective technique of moving data into a more explicit and compact form, which can be employed for a plethora of applications, of which cryptography, data structures, and database management systems are only a few.

This indicates that as we increasingly depend on digital systems, hashing algorithms will be needed more and more due to security and efficiency concerns. Enterprises, for instance, Appsealing, are already on the frontlines of developing new ways of achieving this goal. Appsealing maximizes the security of digital assets and ensures its clients’ customers that their financial transactions and other sensitive information are protected through the use of hashing algorithms. In the end, understanding hashing algorithms and their usage is not just about mastering a technical concept. It’s about ensuring the safety and reliability of our digital world.

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