Cryptography Guide: Effective Password Hashing Techniques
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. What is password hashing?
  2. Why use password hashing?
  3. How to hash passwords effectively?
  4. Hashing technique: Bcrypt
  5. Hashing technique: Scrypt
  6. Hashing technique: Argon2
  7. Comparison of hash functions
  8. Best practices for password hashing

Ever wondered how your password is kept safe even when companies suffer from data breaches? The answer lies within a fascinating field of study - cryptography, and more specifically, password hashing techniques in cryptography. This guide will walk you through the essentials of password hashing and its importance, and will introduce you to some of the most effective techniques used in the industry. So, buckle up, it's time to dive into the world of cryptography and password protection!

What is password hashing?

Imagine you have a secret message that you want to hide. You could just scramble the letters around, but anyone who knows how you scrambled it could unscramble it. This is where password hashing comes into play in the world of cryptography. It's like a one-way ticket — once you hash a password, there's no way to go back and figure out what the original password was.

Here's a simplified breakdown of how it works:

  1. Input: You start with a password. Let's say, for example, your password is "password123".
  2. Hashing: Your password is put through a hashing function. This function transforms your password into a set of characters that looks nothing like your original password. This is your hashed password.
  3. Storage: The hashed password is what gets stored in the database. So, even if someone gets their hands on the hashed password, they won't be able to figure out your actual password because hashing is a one-way process.

So, when you log in to a website, the password you enter is hashed using the same function. This hashed password is compared with the one stored in the database. If they match, you're granted access. If not, you're not. Simple as that!

The beauty of password hashing techniques in cryptography is that even a tiny change in the password — like changing a single character — results in a completely different hash. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to guess your password based on the hash. Now, isn't that fascinating?

Why use password hashing?

Now that you know what password hashing is, you might be wondering: why go through all this trouble? Why not just store passwords as they are? Well, the answer is simple: for security. Let's take a closer look at why password hashing techniques in cryptography are so important.

1. Protecting Passwords: When you create an account on a website, you trust that your password will be kept safe. Without password hashing, if the website's data gets stolen, your password could end up in the wrong hands. But with password hashing, even if someone steals the password data, they'll only see the hashed passwords, not the actual ones.

2. Preventing Password Reuse: We've all been guilty of using the same password for multiple accounts. It's just easier to remember, right? But if one website gets hacked and your password is exposed, all your other accounts become vulnerable. Password hashing makes it hard for hackers to figure out your actual password, protecting your other accounts.

3. Ensuring Data Integrity: In the world of data, integrity is key. Hashing ensures that your password maintains its integrity — it stays the same every time it's hashed. This means that even the smallest change to your password will result in a completely different hash, making it much harder for anyone to tamper with your password.

In a world where data breaches are all too common, password hashing is a crucial line of defense. It's an integral part of how companies protect your passwords and, by extension, your personal data. So, the next time you create a password, know that there's a powerful process working behind the scenes to keep your information secure!

How to hash passwords effectively?

Knowing why we use password hashing techniques in cryptography is one thing, but how do we do it effectively? Here are some tips and tricks to help you hash passwords like a pro.

1. Choose a Strong Hashing Algorithm: Not all hashing algorithms are created equal. Some are stronger than others. You want to choose a hashing algorithm that's known for its strength, like Bcrypt, Scrypt, or Argon2. These algorithms are robust and have been tested time and time again for their reliability.

2. Use a Salt: A salt is a random piece of data that you add to the password before hashing it. This makes the hash unique, even for identical passwords. So if two people have the same password, their hashes will be different because of the unique salts. This makes it harder for hackers to crack the password.

3. Never Store Passwords in Plain Text: Always hash your passwords before storing them. If your data is ever compromised, the hashed passwords will be much harder to crack than plain text passwords.

4. Regularly Update Your Hashing Technique: In the world of cryptography, what's secure today might not be secure tomorrow. Always stay updated on the latest advancements in password hashing techniques and update your methods accordingly.

Remember, password hashing isn't just about choosing a strong password. It's about how you handle that password. With these techniques, you'll be well on your way to ensuring that your passwords — and your data — are as secure as possible.

Hashing technique: Bcrypt

Let's dive into one of the most popular password hashing techniques in cryptography - Bcrypt. Bcrypt is highly favored in the tech community due to its effectiveness in safeguarding passwords.

Bcrypt is a hashing function that uses a version of Bruce Schneier's Blowfish cipher. What makes this algorithm special is its built-in salt and adaptability, which means it can stay ahead of hackers' increasing computational power.

When you use Bcrypt, each password gets a unique salt. This salt gets hashed together with the password, creating a unique hash even if the password isn't unique. This is a great way to thwart off rainbow table attacks—a method hackers use to crack passwords.

Another standout feature of Bcrypt is its adaptability. The algorithm has a cost factor that determines how much computing power is needed to hash a password. As computers get more powerful, you can increase this cost factor to ensure that your password hashes remain tough to crack.

So, if you're looking for a password hashing technique that's secure, reliable, and adaptable, Bcrypt should be high on your list.

Hashing technique: Scrypt

Now let's turn our attention to another popular password hashing technique in cryptography: Scrypt. This method is a bit different from Bcrypt, but it's equally effective when it comes to protecting your passwords.

Scrypt is a password-based key derivation function. In simpler terms, it's a function that takes a password and, using a random string of characters known as a salt, produces a key that can be used in cryptographic functions. Sounds complicated, right? But don't worry, it does a pretty straightforward job — it protects your passwords from brute-force and rainbow table attacks.

One of the unique features of Scrypt is that it's not just CPU-intensive like Bcrypt and many other password hashing methods. Instead, Scrypt is also memory-intensive. It uses a large amount of RAM in addition to CPU power. This makes it even harder for attackers to use parallel computing to crack the passwords.

With its dual focus on CPU and memory, Scrypt can be an excellent choice for any security-minded individual or organization. It's like having an extra lock on your front door — it might be a bit more effort to manage, but it provides an extra layer of security.

Hashing technique: Argon2

Next up in our exploration of password hashing techniques in cryptography is Argon2. Argon2 made quite a name for itself when it won the Password Hashing Competition in 2015. But what's all the fuss about? Let's find out.

Like Scrypt, Argon2 also uses memory-intensive operations to protect your passwords. But it takes things a step further. Argon2 allows you to fine-tune the amount of CPU and memory it uses. This means you can adjust it to match your system's capabilities, making it a flexible option for different hardware setups.

What makes Argon2 stand out is the fact that it has resistance to GPU cracking attacks. For you non-techies out there, this means that it's tough for attackers to use powerful graphics cards to crack your passwords. And that's a big plus in the security department!

So, if you're looking for a password hashing method that offers a little more customization and has proven its worth in the field, Argon2 could be just what you're after. Remember, the stronger your password hashing method, the safer your data is. And in the world of cryptography, that's the name of the game!

Comparison of hash functions

Now that we've had a look at Bcrypt, Scrypt, and Argon2, let's do a little comparison. When it comes to password hashing techniques in cryptography, one size doesn't fit all. Your choice depends on your specific needs and resources.

Starting with Bcrypt, it's been around for a while and has built a solid reputation. It's secure and reliable, with a built-in salt to help fend off rainbow table attacks. However, it's not as flexible as newer methods and can be slower than others.

Next up, Scrypt. It's a memory-hard algorithm, meaning it uses a lot of memory to scramble passwords. This makes it harder for attackers to use brute force methods to crack passwords. However, it can be resource-intensive and may not be the best fit for systems with limited memory.

Lastly, we have Argon2. It's the newest kid on the block and has already made a name for itself. It's flexible, allowing you to adjust CPU and memory usage. Plus, it's resistant to GPU cracking attacks. But, as with anything new, it hasn't been as thoroughly battle-tested as older methods.

So there you have it! A quick rundown of these three password hashing techniques in cryptography. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. Your job is to pick the one that best fits your needs and resources. Remember, there's no such thing as perfect security, but a strong password hashing technique can get you pretty close!

Best practices for password hashing

Alright, let's talk about some of the best practices to keep in mind when using password hashing techniques in cryptography. These practices will help you keep your system secure and your users' data safe.

First things first: always hash your passwords. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it's worth mentioning. Storing plain text passwords is a big no-no. Even if your system is secure, a breach can still happen—and you don't want to hand over your users' passwords on a silver platter.

Next up: use a salt. A salt is a random piece of data that you add to the password before hashing it. This makes every hash unique, even for identical passwords. It helps protect against rainbow table attacks, where attackers use precomputed tables of hashed passwords to crack your passwords.

Another thing to remember: make your hashes slow. Wait, slow? Yes, you heard that right. The slower your hash function, the harder it is for attackers to crack your passwords. That's because they can't make as many guesses per second. This is where password hashing techniques like Bcrypt, Scrypt, and Argon2 come in handy—they're designed to be slow.

Finally, stay updated. Always keep an eye on the latest developments in cryptography. New threats are constantly emerging, and new techniques are being developed to combat them. By staying updated, you can make sure you're using the best tools and techniques to protect your users' data.

So there you have it! By following these best practices, you can make the most of password hashing techniques in cryptography and keep your system secure. Remember, security is a journey, not a destination—so keep learning and keep improving!

If you found our Cryptography Guide on effective password hashing techniques insightful and want to learn more about the intersection of creativity and cryptography, we highly recommend checking out the workshop 'Crypto For Creators, Part 1: The Backbone Of The Digital Economy' by Tom Glendinning. This workshop will provide you with a deeper understanding of the digital economy's backbone and how it impacts creators like you.