How does hashing help secure blockchain technology? And how does it work? Hashing is a cryptographic technique that is essential to the security of blockchain technology.
In this article, we will learn how it helps to verify the integrity of data, make data immutable, and achieve consensus on the state of the blockchain.
Table of contents
- What is Hashing in a Blockchain Technology?
- What are Hash Tables?
- What is a hash function?
- What is Hashing used for?
- What is Hashing in Data Structure?
- What is Hashing in Cybersecurity?
- What is Hashing in Cryptography?
- What is Collision?
- What are the Ways in which it helps to secure blockchain?
- What is the Difference between Encryption and Hashing?
- Table showing the Difference between Encryption and Hashing.
- What is the Formula for Hashing?
- What are the Properties?
- What is the main purpose of Hashing?
- Why hashing is more secure than encryption?
- What keeps Blockchains Secure?
- What is the most secure type of blockchain?
What is Hashing in a Blockchain Technology?
Chiefly, it is a cryptographic technique that is essential to the security of blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology is an intricate web of several technological innovations working together.
Among the most important pieces of the blockchain puzzle is hashing.
It is a cryptographic function that converts a string of characters of any length into a unique output, or hash, of a fixed length.
Additionally, hash is used to verify the integrity of data, make data immutable, and achieve consensus on the state of the blockchain.
Without hashing blockchain technology would be vulnerable to attack.
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What are Hash Tables?
The most popular use is the implementation of hash tables. A hash table stores key and value pairs in a list that is accessible through its index.
Because key and value pairs are unlimited, the function will map the keys to the table size. A hash value then becomes the index for a specific element.
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What is a hash function?
A hash function generates new values according to a mathematical algorithm, known as a value or simply a hash.
To prevent the conversion of the hash back into the original key, a good hash always uses a one-way algorithm.
Most importantly, it is relevant to, but not limited to data indexing and retrieval, digital signatures, cybersecurity, and cryptography.
What is Hashing used for?
Basically, it uses functions or algorithms to map an object to a representative integer value.
It can then be used to narrow down searches when locating these items on that object data map.
For example, in hash tables, developers store data, perhaps a customer record in the form of key and value pairs.
The key helps identify the data and operates as an input to the function, while the code or the integer is then mapped to a fixed asset.
Hash tables support functions that include the following:
- Insert (key, value)
In addition to enabling rapid data retrieval, it helps encrypt and decrypt digital signatures used to authenticate message senders and receivers.
In this scenario, a function transforms the digital signature before both the value (known as a message digest) and the signature are sent in separate transmissions to the receiver.
Upon receipt, the same function derives the message digest from the signature. Which is then compared with the transmitted message digest to ensure both are the same.
In a one-way operation, the function indexes the original value or key and enables access to data associated with a specific value or key that is retrieved.
What is Hashing in Data Structure?
Dewey Decimal classification has worked well in libraries for many years. And the underlying concept works just as well in computer science.
Software engineers save both file space and time by shrinking the original data assets and input strings to short alphanumeric keys.
If you are looking for an item on a data map, it helps narrow down the search.
In this scenario codes generate an index to store values. So, here, it indexes and retrieves information from a database because it helps accelerate the process.
It is much easier to find an item using its shorter key than its original value.
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What is Hashing in Cybersecurity?
Many encryption algorithms use hashing to enhance cybersecurity. Hashed strings and inputs are meaningless to hackers without a decryption key.
For example, if hackers breach a database and find data, they can immediately use that information for their nefarious activities.
However, a hashed value like “a87b3” is useless for threat actors unless they have a key to decipher it.
As such, hashing helps secure passwords stored in a database.
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What is Hashing in Cryptography?
The implementation of a cryptographic hash function is beneficial to prevent fraudulent transactions, double spending in the blockchain, and storing passwords.
Cryptography uses multiple functions to secure data. Some of the most popular cryptographic hashes include the following:
- Secure Algorithm 1 (SHA-1)
- Secure Algorithm 2 (SHA-2)
- Third, is the Secure Algorithm 3 (SHA-3)
Message-digest functions like MD2, MD4, and MD5 help digital signatures. The signature transforms into a shorter value in the message digest.
What is Collision?
Essentially, cybersecurity demands unidirectional processes that use a one-way algorithm.
It is a crucial step in stopping threat actors from reverse engineering a hash back to its original state.
At the same time, two keys also generate an identical hash. This phenomenon is a collision.
A good value function never produces the same value from two different inputs. As such, a function that comes with an extremely low risk of collision is acceptable.
Open addressing and separate chaining are two ways of dealing with collisions when they occur.
Mainly, open addressing handles collisions by storing all data in the table itself and then seeking out availability in the next spot created by the algorithm.
Open addressing methods include,
Separate chaining, by contrast, avoids collisions by making every table cell point to linked lists of records with identical function values.
What is Salting?
Of course, to further ensure the uniqueness of encrypted outputs, cybersecurity professionals also add random data into the function.
This approach, known as “salting”, guarantees a unique output even when the inputs are identical.
Salting obstructs bad actors from accessing non-unique passwords. This is because each hash value is unique, even when you reuse your password.
Additionally, salting adds another layer of security to thwart rainbow table attacks.
Furthermore, it is used when analyzing or preventing file tampering. This is because each original file generates a hash and stores it within the file data.
When a receiver receives the file and hash together, it checks the hash to determine if the file was compromised. To avoid all these issues, Basically, you need to create a strong system.
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What are the Ways in which it helps to secure blockchain?
1. Data Integrity
Hashing verifies the integrity of data on a blockchain. If any data in a block gets tampered with, the hash of the block changes. And the subsequent blocks in the chain will no longer be valid.
This makes it very difficult to tamper with data on a blockchain without detection.
It helps make blockchain data immutable, meaning that it will not change once it is added to the blockchain.
When a new block is added to the blockchain, it contains a hash of the previous block. This creates a chain of blocks that are linked together by their hashes.
If any data in a block is changed, the hash of the block changes and the subsequent blocks in the chain are no longer valid.
This makes it very difficult to change data on a blockchain without invalidating the entire chain.
3. Verification and Consensus
Essentially, it verifies transactions and achieves consensus on the state of the blockchain.
In many blockchain networks, miners compete to solve a cryptographic puzzle in order to add the next block to the chain.
The puzzle is difficult to solve, and the first miner to solve gets a reward with a cryptocurrency.
When a miner solves the puzzle, they generate a hash of the block that is consistent with the consensus rules of the network.
The other nodes on the network then verify the hash and add the block to their copy of the blockchain.
This process helps to ensure that all nodes on the network agree on the state of the blockchain.
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What is the Difference between Encryption and Hashing?
Chiefly, in the data security field, both are commonly compared, but why is this the case?
Encryption is a two-way function where data is passed in as plaintext and comes out as ciphertext, which is unreadable.
Since encryption is two-way, the data is decrypted so it is readable again. And, on the other hand, it is one-way. Meaning the plaintext is scrambled into a unique digest, through the salt, that is not decrypted.
Technically, it is reversing but the computational power decrypts it making decryption infeasible.
How does hashing work?
It works with an algorithm. This algorithm is most effective when it is collision-resistant.
Collision resistance means that the algorithm must be complex enough to not have overlapping hashes.
But not so complex as to take too long to compute hashes. Encryption comes in two different types, and both have several common types of algorithms.
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Table showing the Difference between Encryption and Hashing.
|Definition||A two-way function that takes in plaintext data, and turns it into undecipherable ciphertext.||A one -way method of hiding sensitive data. Using a hashing algorithm, hashing turns a plaintext into a unique hash digest that can not be reverted to the original plaintext without considerable effort.|
|Reversible or Irreversible?||Reversible||Irreversible|
|Variable or Fixed Length Output?||Variable Length||Fixed Length|
|Types||Asymmetric and Symmetric||SHA-1, SHA-2, MD5,CRC32, WHIRLPOOL|
What is the Formula for Hashing?
With modular hashing, the hash function is simply h(k)=k mod m for some m(usually, the number of buckets).
The value of k is an integer hash code which generated from the key. If m is a power of two (i.e.,m=2p), then h(k) is just the p lowest-order bits of k.
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What are the Properties?
A. Hashing produces outputs of fixed length.
It will always produce a unique fixed-length output from any input.
B. Hashing is deterministic.
The same input will always produce the same output. For example, if you use SHA-256 to generate a hash from “fun”, you will always get the same output.
C.Hashing is a one-way function
It is infeasible to determine what the input is from any output. That is to say, it is virtually impossible to reverse the hash function with contemporary technology.
The only way to determine what the input was is by trying out random strings until you find the right one. This method is brute force.
Even IBM Summit, currently the fastest computer in the world, is capable of making several trillion calculations per second. It would need many years and an astounding amount of electricity to find the answer for a single hash.
D. It is resistant to collisions
A collision occurs when a hashing mechanism produces the same output for two different inputs.
This is possible in theory for hashing, as the number of unique hashes is limiting but the number of inputs is not.
However, the probability of collisions is extremely small. Hashing is thus resistant, but not immune, to collisions.
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What is the main purpose of Hashing?
The main purpose is to verify the integrity of a piece of data. Since it generates a UNIQUE “fingerprint” of the input data.
This makes it useful for verifying the integrity of data sent through insecure communication channels like the Internet.
Why hashing is more secure than encryption?
Encryption is a reversible process, but hashing is not.
It is way more secure in comparison to encryption. The main purpose of hashing is to check the integrity of data. Whereas, the main purpose of encryption is to secure the data by converting it to an unreadable format.
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What keeps Blockchains Secure?
Blockchain technology’s data structures have inherent security qualities because they are based on consensus, cryptography, and decentralization principles.
Each new block of information connects to all the previous blocks in a way that is nearly impossible to tamper with.
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What is the most secure type of blockchain?
It is a Public blockchain since these are open and accessible to anyone, they are often more secure than private or permission blockchains.
This is because it is much more difficult for bad actors to activate a 51% attack on a public blockchain than it is on a private blockchain.
As we know by now, it is fundamental for blockchain. Blockchain technology combines a range of important solutions from various fields of science.
The cryptographic hash function serves as the basis for building a blockchain and harnessing those solutions.
It is difficult to imagine a decentralized network that forgoes it entirely.
The cryptographic hash function in the blockchain secures the message block and connects the blocks in a chain. Briefly, in the blockchain, each block contains its own block hash and of its previous block. Which helps them to form a cryptographically secured linear chain of blocks.
Basically, it is a process of transforming any given key or a string of characters into another value. This represents a shorter, fixed-length value or key that represents and makes it easier to find or employ the original string. The most popular use is the implementation of hash tables.
The most widely used SHA algorithms are SHA-1, SHA-2, and SHA-3. Basically, SHA-1 is a 160-bit hash function that widely uses digital signatures and other applications. However, it is no longer secure due to known vulnerabilities.
Primarily, businesses use these functions to ensure that the data stored on servers and cloud storage systems remains unreadable even if malicious hackers gain access to the data.
The term”hash” comes by way of analogy with its own non-technical meaning, to “chop and mix”.