10 Essential Tips for Cryptographic Hash Security
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Select a strong hash function
  2. Ensure proper storage of hash values
  3. Implement salting
  4. Avoid using outdated hash functions
  5. Use hash functions appropriate for the task at hand
  6. Protect hash values in transit
  7. Implement key stretching
  8. Keep up-to-date with cryptographic standards
  9. Review and update your hash security regularly
  10. Train your team in cryptographic best practices

Imagine if your school locker combination was easily guessable by any curious passerby—wouldn't be much use, would it? Similar to your locker combo, cryptographic hash functions provide a layer of security in the digital world. These functions transform data into unique codes, acting like a digital lock. However, just like with lockers, the security of these hash functions is not something to take lightly. Ensuring the security of your cryptographic hash function can be like navigating a labyrinth, but worry not! Here are ten clear-cut tips to guide you through this labyrinth of cryptographic hash function security.

Select a Strong Hash Function

Think of cryptographic hash functions as the superheroes of digital security—each one has its unique powers and weaknesses. When it comes to selecting a strong hash function, it's all about picking the right superhero for the job.

SHA-256: SHA-256 is like the Superman of hash functions. It's robust, reliable, and a popular choice for many. Developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), this function is known for its strong resistance to collision attacks—situations where two different inputs produce the same output.

Blake2: If SHA-256 is Superman, then Blake2 is Flash. It's not only secure but also incredibly fast. This hash function is a top pick when speed is a priority, without compromising on security.

SHA-3: SHA-3, on the other hand, is like Batman—always prepared with an arsenal of tools. SHA-3 is the latest addition to the cryptographic hash function family. Its versatility and adaptability make it a strong contender when it comes to hash function security.

The key here is understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each hash function and selecting the one that best meets your needs. It's like choosing the superhero who's best equipped to save your day. This understanding will be the first step toward bolstering your cryptographic hash function security.

Ensure Proper Storage of Hash Values

Now that you've chosen your superhero hash function, it's time to think about where to keep their superpowers—that is, your hash values. Hash values are like the secret identities of our superheroes; they need to be kept hidden and secure. So, what's the best way to do this?

The most secure way to store your hash values is in a secure, isolated database. Just like how Spiderman keeps his identity a secret from even his closest friends, you want to ensure your hash values are well hidden from potential threats. Storing them in a separate, secure database acts like a secret hideout for your hash values, keeping them safe and secure.

Another good practice is to use hash functions that generate large, fixed-length hash values. The larger the hash value, the harder it is for anyone to guess it. It's like using a longer and more complex locker combination—more numbers, more security.

Finally, consider using a technique called hashing with a secret key. This is like a added layer of security, like having a fingerprint scanner on top of your locker combination. Even if someone manages to guess the hash value, they still need the secret key to access the data.

Remember, ensuring proper storage of hash values is like keeping your superhero's identity safe. It's a vital part of maintaining your cryptographic hash function security.

Implement Salting

Imagine you have a secret word, and you don't want anyone else to know it. You could write it down and lock it up, but there's a smarter way—using a cryptographic hash function. This magical tool turns your secret word into a jumbled-up mess of characters. But here's the kicker: if anyone else uses the same secret word, they'll end up with the same jumbled mess. That's a problem, right? That's where salting comes into play.

Salting is like adding an extra secret ingredient to your recipe. It's a unique piece of data that you add to each password before you hash it. This means that even if two people have the same secret word, their hashed results will be different because their salts are different. It's like making two similar-looking cookies with different secret ingredients. They might look the same, but they taste different.

But wait! How do you keep track of all these different salts? Well, you don't have to. You can store the salt alongside the hashed password. And before you ask—no, knowing the salt doesn't help an attacker guess the password. The salt is there to make sure that even if two people have the same password, their hashed values will be different.

So, in summary, salting is a must-have ingredient in your cryptographic hash function security recipe. It keeps your secret words safe and ensures that even identical passwords have different hash values. Keep salting, and keep your data tasty and secure!

Avoid using outdated hash functions

Remember that old phone you had which could barely run any new apps? You wouldn't want to use that now, would you? The same goes for hash functions. In the world of cryptographic hash function security, newer is usually better. Outdated hash functions can be like an old lock that's easy to pick. It may have been the bee's knees back in the day, but today, it's just not up to snuff.

Outdated hash functions, like MD5 and SHA-1, have known vulnerabilities. They're like those old bicycle locks that can be opened with a soda can. Sure, they might look secure, but clever hackers have figured out ways to break them. That's why it's important to use modern, secure hash functions like SHA-256 or SHA-3.

But how do you know if a hash function is secure? Well, it's all about the community. Cryptographers—the people who study this stuff for a living—are always testing hash functions for weaknesses. If they find one, they tell everyone about it. So pay attention to what they say. If a hash function is widely accepted by the cryptographic community, it's a good bet that it's secure.

So, whether you're securing your secret superhero identity or just your online banking, make sure to use a modern hash function. It's a simple step to take, but it can make a world of difference in keeping your secrets safe.

Use hash functions appropriate for the task at hand

Have you ever tried to hammer a nail with a screwdriver? Not really the right tool for the job, right? When it comes to cryptographic hash function security, using the right hash function for the task at hand is just as important.

Every hash function has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, SHA-256 is great for most general purposes. It's like the Swiss Army knife of hash functions. It's strong, reliable, and can handle just about anything you throw at it.

But what if you need to hash a lot of data quickly? Then, you might want to consider a function like Blake2. It's designed to be faster than SHA-256, making it ideal for situations where speed is crucial.

On the other hand, if you're dealing with highly sensitive information, you might want to use a hash function with a larger output size, like SHA-512. The larger the output size, the harder it is for someone to guess the original input. It's like adding extra pins to a lock—the more there are, the harder it is to pick.

Remember: cryptographic hash function security is not a one-size-fits-all solution. By understanding the unique features and benefits of each hash function, you can choose the one that best suits your needs. After all, you wouldn't use a sledgehammer to hang a picture frame, would you?

Protect hash values in transit

Imagine you're sending a secret message in a bottle across a busy river. You can't control who might pick it up, peek inside, or even replace your message with a different one. That's what happens when you send unprotected hash values over the internet. It's sort of like playing a game of telephone with potential eavesdroppers. Not exactly the best situation for maintaining cryptographic hash function security, isn't it?

So how do you ensure your hash values get safely to their destination? By using secure transmission protocols, of course! It's like sending your message in a bottle in a secure, tamper-proof capsule. Even if someone manages to intercept it, they won't be able to alter or read your message.

Protocols like SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or its successor TLS (Transport Layer Security) are your go-to options here. They ensure that the data you send and receive is encrypted. In other words, they turn your message into a jumble of letters and numbers that only your recipient can understand.

Think of it as a secret language that only you and your recipient know. Even if someone else picks up your bottle, they won't be able to understand your message. And that's exactly what you want in cryptographic hash function security.

Remember, the internet can be a dangerous place for unprotected data. So, take the extra step to protect your hash values in transit. Your data's security is worth it!

Implement key stretching

Think of key stretching as the equivalent of adding extra layers of security to a valuable object. You wouldn't just put a priceless artifact in a glass box and call it a day, right? You'd probably add security cameras, alarms, maybe even a couple of laser tripwires for good measure. That's exactly what key stretching does to your hash values—it adds extra layers of security.

Key stretching is a technique that basically makes a hacker's job a lot harder. Instead of cracking a single hash value, they would have to crack multiple layers of hash values. It's like trying to break into a fortress instead of a simple lockbox.

Popular key stretching techniques include PBKDF2 (Password-Based Key Derivation Function 2) and bcrypt. They work by applying the hash function multiple times to the input. This process makes it significantly more time-consuming and resource-intensive for an attacker to guess the input based on the hash value.

So, if you're serious about cryptographic hash function security, don't skimp on key stretching. It might seem like overkill, but when it comes to security, there's no such thing as too much. After all, you wouldn't complain about your fortress being too secure, would you?

Keep up-to-date with cryptographic standards

Imagine you're an architect, and you've just built a beautiful, state-of-the-art building, but you forgot to check the building codes and regulations. Can you see where I'm going with this? Just like an architect, when you're working with cryptographic hash function security, it's important to stay in tune with the current standards and guidelines.

These standards are not set in stone; they're constantly evolving to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of security threats. Therefore, staying up-to-date with these standards isn't just a good practice; it's a necessity.

There are organizations like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that regularly publish guidelines and recommendations on cryptographic hash function security. They cover everything from the selection of hash functions to the best practices for their implementation and use.

But remember, it's not just about reading these standards; it's about understanding and applying them in your work. This way, you ensure your cryptographic hash function security is not just robust, but also compliant with the latest best practices.

Review and update your hash security regularly

Think about your favorite smartphone app. It gets updates every once in a while, right? Developers are always on the hunt for bugs, looking for ways to improve features, and ensuring that it's as secure as can be. Your cryptographic hash function security should be no different. Regular check-ups and updates are a must.

So, what does a check-up look like for cryptographic hash function security? It involves reviewing the hash functions you're using, checking if they're still considered secure, and updating them if necessary. It also means looking at how these hash functions are implemented and making sure that they're still effective against current threats.

Consider this: Just because a hash function was considered secure a couple of years ago, doesn't mean it still holds up today. New vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, and what was once a fortress could now be a house of cards. That's why it's important to stay vigilant and keep your hash security up-to-date.

And remember, this isn't a one-time job. It's an ongoing process that requires your attention and dedication. So, make it a habit to review and update your cryptographic hash function security regularly. Your data, your users, and your peace of mind will thank you for it.

Train your team in cryptographic best practices

Imagine you're the coach of a basketball team. You wouldn't just hand your players a ball and say, "Go play," would you? Of course not! You'd teach them the rules of the game, show them how to dribble, and explain the best strategies to win. The same logic applies when it comes to cryptographic hash function security. It's not enough to just have the tools—you and your team need to know how to use them effectively.

Training your team in cryptographic best practices is like having a playbook for your data's defense. It covers everything from understanding what a cryptographic hash function is to knowing how to implement and maintain it securely. With this knowledge, your team can avoid common pitfalls, spot potential threats, and respond quickly if something goes wrong.

And let's not forget about the importance of teamwork. Just like a basketball team moves the ball around the court, your team needs to communicate and collaborate to ensure cryptographic hash function security. If everyone knows their role and understands the game plan, you'll be well on your way to a winning defense against data breaches.

So, don't wait for the buzzer to sound. Start training your team in cryptographic best practices today. Because when it comes to protecting your data, every second counts.

If you're looking to strengthen your knowledge of cryptographic hash security, we recommend checking out the workshop 'Crypto For Creators, Part 1: The Backbone Of The Digital Economy' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop offers valuable insights into the world of cryptocurrency and its relevance to the creative industry, ensuring that you stay ahead in the digital economy while keeping your work secure.