SHA-2 – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

The SHA-2 algorithm is the later version of the original SHA, which was responsible for encrypting data in order to provide certain security.

In other words, the Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA), is an algorithm whose main task, through the ‘hash’ function, is to provide security to certain applications via cryptography.

These types of algorithms are essential in our day to day. It allows us to send text messages with certain security, to surf the Internet without having your identity exposed at all.

An example with the Whatsapp or Telegram applications, which boast end-to-end encrypted messages. This means, in practice, that the message we send is encrypted with a completely different code than what we have written. Once it finally reaches the recipient, that’s when that code is cracked again in our initial message.

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hash function

It is about giving a different value and without any relation to a data or data set of any type. Thus, if someone intercepts the message, he will not know what type of data he is dealing with.1

This type of digital security is called cryptographic hash functions, since what the hash function does is transform the data or data set with values ​​that, a priori, do not give us any indication of what they are.

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Clarify that files with an xlsx extension are actually Excel files, those ending in pdf are PDF documents and those with jpg are images. The function then not only prevents them from knowing what it is, but what format the data is being sent in.

SHA and its variants

The SHA algorithms have several variants, the vast majority of which have been developed by the US NSA (National Security Agency).

In this regard, the first to make the leap in a general way was SHA-1, which was present in one way or another in practically the entire digital ecosystem of the time (1990-2010).

SHA-2 would later emerge, which is the algorithm at hand. SHA-2 is developed to improve certain shortcomings of SHA-1. Although the real trigger for its expansion was the continuous computer attacks that occurred while the SHA-1 algorithm was present. These attacks were often ultimately successful.

One of the main problems with SHA-1 is the so-called ‘collision’. Which consist of giving the same value to the same data or set of data. In other words, it is about encrypting an Excel file or a Word file with the same code.

Today this algorithm is still a guarantee of security and no major cracks or widespread failures have been found to expose it.

Finally, in 2015, the SHA-3 algorithm was presented, which, unlike its predecessors, is to a certain extent independent in its development. That is, if SHA-2 is the successor of SHA-1, SHA-3 does not have that status with SHA-2, it is totally different.

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SHA-3 is conceived with the aim of being able to withstand attacks at the quantum level, since the future of the technology will be based on this still untapped branch, and with endless possibilities and potential.

Examples of applications with SHA-2

Some cases that can be highlighted in the use of this type of algorithm are:

  • The IP addresses.
  • encrypted messages.
  • Cloud data.

First of all, IPs are something like our identity within the internet. If when we go down the street a policeman asks for our identity card or DNI, on the internet this card or DNI would be our IP. This identity can be masked with VPN shields, which give us another IP, to hide our location as well as our identity.

Secondly, and as has already been mentioned, encrypted messages consist of encoding normal messages in random values ​​to later be decrypted when the message reaches the recipient. These types of functions are also very present in email clients, such as Gmail, Outlook or GMX.

Third and last, the functions of a SHA algorithm are also applicable to data hosted in the cloud. It consists of the same system already exposed, since the same cryptographic protocol is applied to them until the user who tries to access them proves that he is the legitimate owner of them.

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