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Cryptographic hash function - what they are, properties of, etc.

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Khan Academy
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Cryptographic Hash Functions

Cryptographic hash functions are building blocks that are used in many different algorithms and protocols with important applications in information security as a whole.  Some examples: - MD5 (Message Digest 5) - SHA-256 - RIPE-MD

Applications

  • The first application for these has been in digital signatures as well as number generation and encryption. 
    • A hash function will take a particular input (or a message) and then the function applies a mathematical transformation to produce a singular output. 
    • The input length is arbitrary, but the output is a fixed number for a response. 
  • Cryptography in this sense means that the function has critical design goals in mind making it suitable for use in other applications such as security or privacy. 

Properties of successful cryptographic hash functions include:

  1. Computationally efficient
  2. Collision resistance 
  3. Hide information about inputs
  4. The output should look random There may also be alternative methods to creating cryptography that don't require all of these properties.  
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