The two most important elements of additional security measures among the many network security innovations are encryption and hashing. With a digest size of 256 bits, the safe hash encryption method SHA-256 is one of the most popular hashing algorithms. SHA-256 is still in the forefront of practical applications, despite the existence of various alternative variations.

Understanding hashing and its functional properties is crucial for a deeper comprehension of SHA256 encryption and for a more in-depth investigation of the cybersecurity industry.

Gorelo RMM Software and PSA | **Start Your Free Trial Now**

## What is Hashing?

The process of hashing involves converting unprocessed data into an unintelligible format that prevents it from being restored to its initial state. In this procedure, a piece of data is passed through a function that transforms the plaintext into mathematical operations. The hash value, also called the digest, is the outcome of this process, which is called the hash function.

The hash function oversees transforming plaintext into the appropriate hash digest, as seen in the graphic above. Because of the irreversible nature of these functions, the original plaintext cannot be recovered in any way from the digest. Furthermore, no matter how many times the procedure is performed, hash functions always yield the same output value while the input stays the same.

Hashing has two main applications:

Password Hashing: Prior to being saved on most web servers, user passwords are converted into a hash value. The server confirms the user’s identity during the login process by comparing the recently computed hash value with the one stored in the database.

Integrity Verification: A file’s hash is frequently included in the package when it is posted to a website. To guarantee the integrity of the data, a user can recalculate the hash and compare it to the original when they download the file.

With a better understanding of hash functions, let’s move on to the crucial subject of SHA-256 encryption.

## What is the SHA256 Encryption?

SHA stands for Secure Hash Algorithm, and SHA-256 is a member of the SHA-2 family of encryption algorithms. The NSA and NIST worked together to create this encryption technique, which was first used in 2001, as a replacement for the SHA-1 family, which was starting to fall victim to brute-force attacks.

The amount of the final hash digest value is indicated by the “256” in its name, which means that the hash value will always be 256 bits, regardless of the size of the cleartext or plaintext.

SHA-256 is like other encryption techniques in the SHA family. Let’s now take a closer look at their rules.

Through our Cybersecurity Bootcamp, you will delve deeply into the intricacies of cutting-edge technology like SHA-256 encryption and go on a life-changing adventure. Learn about the cryptographic concepts that make this encryption essential to blockchain security while improving your ability to fend against online attacks.

## What are the Characteristics of the SHA256 Encryption?

SHA encryption has several noteworthy characteristics, such as:

**Message Length**: The cleartext shall not exceed 2^64 bits in length. In order to preserve the digest’s randomness, this size restriction is crucial.**Digest Length**: Whereas SHA-512 generates a digest of 512 bits, SHA-256 encryption sets the hash digest length at 256 bits. Speed and storage efficiency may be impacted by the additional computations needed for larger digests.**Irreversibility**: All hash functions—including SHA-256—are irreversible by design. This implies that neither the original value nor the original plaintext can be recovered by reprocessing the digest using the hash function.

Now that you have a solid grasp on SHA’s technical needs, let’s examine the entire process in the following part.

## Steps in SHA256 Encryption

As explained below, the complete procedure can be broken down into five separate parts:

### Padding Bits

To guarantee that the message’s length is precisely 64 bits less than a multiple of 512, extra bits are inserted. A one should be added as the initial bit in this procedure, and then zeros to fill in the remaining space.

### Padding Length

To make sure that the final plaintext is a multiple of 512, you can now add 64 bits of data. By using the modulus operation on the original cleartext without padding, these 64 bits can be computed.

### Initialising the Buffers:

Eight buffers that will be used in the rounds must have their default values set, as explained

You also need to store 64 different keys in an array that are indexed from K[0] to K[63]. The following is how these keys are initialized:

Courtesy: SHA-2 (Wikipedia)

### Compression Functions

Several blocks, each with 512 bits, make up the entire message. 64 rounds of operations are performed on each block, with the output of one block acting as the input for the subsequent one. The following is a summary of the complete process:

Courtesy: Medium Article on SHA256

W[i] is an additional input that is determined independently for every block, contingent on the number of iterations being processed, even if the value of K[i] is pre-initialized in all those rounds.

### Output

The last output of one block is used as the input for the subsequent block in each iteration. The final 512-bit block is processed at the end of this cycle, and its output is referred to as the final hash digest. As implied by the encryption method’s name, this digest will be 256 bits long. Since the early 1990s, SHA-256 encryption has been widely used, and there are several particular uses that are worthwhile investigating. More information is provided in the section that follows.

## Applications of SHA256 encryption

SHA encryption is extensively used in many different applications, as seen in the graphic above, including:

**Digital Signature Verification:**Asymmetric encryption methods are used by digital signatures to verify a document or file’s legitimacy. The verification of these signatures is ensured in large part by hash algorithms such as SHA-256.**Password Hashing:**Because all digests are the same size, websites store user passwords in a hashed format for two main reasons: it improves privacy and eases the strain on the central database.**SSL Handshake:**A crucial component of web browsing sessions is the SSL handshake, which makes use of SHA functions. To create a secure connection, web browsers and servers agree on encryption keys and hashing authentication during this procedure.**Integrity Checks:**As was previously mentioned, SHA-256 and MD5 encryption variations are frequently used to confirm the integrity of files. This procedure guarantees that files stay intact throughout transmission and preserves their whole functionality.

**Gorelo RMM Software and Ticketing System | Book Your Demo Today**