Password Hashing Fully Explained

Password Hashing

Password hashing is an essential security measure that can help protect your personal information and guard against data breaches.

It involves taking a plaintext password and transforming it into a unique string of characters, making it nearly impossible for someone to guess the original password.

This blog post will explain the basics of password hashing, how it works, and why it’s important. We’ll also discuss some of the most popular hashing algorithms available today and how you can use them to protect your data.

By the end of this post, you’ll have everything you need to know about password hashing.

What is password hashing?

Password hashing is a process used to protect passwords from being revealed in plaintext.

Hashing can be define as transformation of a string of characters into a usually shorter fixed-length value or key that represents the original string.

For security purposes, the hashed value must be impossible to reverse back to the original plaintext password. 

Hashing works by using algorithms that generate unique values for each plaintext password that is inputted. These unique values are called “hashes,” and are generated using a mathematical formula.

When someone attempts to log into an account, the system will take the inputted password and run it through the same algorithm to generate a hash.

This hash is then compared to the stored hash associated with the user’s account. If the hashes matched, access is granted; if not, access is denied.

Hashing is different from encryption because encryption is designed to be reversible and can be decrypted.

Hashing, on the other hand, is irreversible, meaning that the original plaintext password cannot be determined from the resulting hash.

This makes it much more difficult for malicious actors to gain access to accounts and sensitive information.

How does password hashing works?

Password hashing is websites’ essential security measures to protect user accounts. When a user creates an account, the website will encrypt their chosen password using a cryptographic hash function.

This function takes the plain text password and creates a unique string of letters and numbers, known as a “hash.” The hash is then stored in the website’s database, while the plain text password is discarded.

When the user logs in again, the website hashes the entered password and compares it to the stored hash. If they match, the user is authenticated.

Since a hash cannot be reversed to retrieve the plain text password, this is a secure way to authenticate users.

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However, hackers can still attempt to guess passwords by running them through a hash function and comparing the result to the stored hash.

To make this harder, modern hashing algorithms add additional security measures such as salt and iterations. Salt is random data that is added to the plain text password before it is hashed.

This adds a unique element to each password, making it difficult for hackers to guess multiple passwords at once. Iterations are repeated hashing of the same password.

This makes it more time-consuming for hackers to guess passwords since they have to run multiple hashes each time. To further increase security, many websites store hashes using one-way encryption.

With one-way encryption, a hacker would not only have to guess the original password but also try different encryption methods to access the stored data.

Furthermore, some websites use two-factor authentication, which requires an additional level of authentication beyond just passwords.

For example, some sites may require the user to enter a code sent via text message or generated with an authentication app in addition to entering the correct password.

Finally, many websites allow users to use biometrics instead of passwords. Biometrics include fingerprint scanning or facial recognition which provide an extra layer of security for users.

For security reasons, you may wish to store passwords in hashed type.

This guard against the chance that somebody who gains unauthorized access to the info will retrieve the passwords of each user within the system.

Hashing performs a one-way transformation on a password, turning the password into another String, known as the hashed password.

“One-way” means it’s practically not possible to travel the opposite manner – to show the hashed password back to the initial password. Many mathematically complicated hashing algorithms fulfill these desires.

By default, the Personalization module uses the MD5 algorithm to perform a one-way hash of the passwords and to store it in hashed form.

The hashed password value isn’t encrypted before it’s stored within the database.

When a user tries to get access, the Personalization module takes the provided password, performs the same one-way hash, and compares it to the database value. If the passwords match, then login is successful.

Password hashing algorithms

1) (MD5) Message Digest

Due to severe security issues with MD4, MD5 emerged as an advanced form of MD4.

MD5 generates outputs for a variable length of inputs in 128 bits. Even though MD5 is widely used, the major problems associated with it are its vulnerability and collisions.

2) Tiger algorithm 

As compared to MD5 and SHA algorithms, Tiger cypher has 192-bit hashing algorithm that is faster and more efficient. The Tiger algorithm is even more powerful than Tiger2, which is an advanced version of it.

3) The MD4 algorithm

Message Digest algorithm (MD4) is a cryptographic hash function with a 128-bit digest and there was a flaw in 1995 with the first collision attack.

Since 1990, when Ronald Rivest designed MD4, a new wave of attacks affected this hash function. MD4, MD5, SHA-1, and RIPEMD are all the effects of Ronald Rivest’s creation of the MD4 algorithm.

4) SHA

Stands for Secure Hashing Algorithm; it was created by the National Security Agency for the first time.

To address the flaws present in this previous data collection methodology, SHA-2 is updated continually. Many different companies are using SHA-2 as a component in their cryptographic functions.

5) RIPMEND

Han’s Dobbertin has designed the RIPMEND cryptographical hashing algorithm, with a length of 164-bit digest and made with the EU framework RIPE.

6)Whirlpool algorithm

Vincent Rijmen and Paul Barreto have designed the WHIRLPOOL algorithm which hashes any message with less than 2256 bits and then outputs a message digest of 512 bits. WHIRLPOOL-0 is the first version of the algorithm.

Purpose of Hashing:

Hashing is required at the time of comparing a huge quantity of data. You can create totally different hash values for various data. You can compare hashes too.

It is simple to keep and find records of hashed data.

You can use hashing in cryptologic applications like a digital signature.

Hashing creates random strings that help in avoiding information duplication.

Geometric hashing is used in computer graphics; it helps to find proximity problems in planes.

Also read: Blockchain Developers Full Guide

Python password hashing

Python offers a variety of secure hashing algorithms, such as PBKDF2, bcrypt, and scrypt. These algorithms are used to securely store user passwords in order to prevent unauthorized access.

The PBKDF2 algorithm is based on a cryptographic hash function, which makes it difficult to crack. It generates a unique password hash by combining a salt value with the user’s password.

This makes it hard to guess the original password, even if they have access to the hash value.

Bcrypt is another popular algorithm for hashing passwords. It uses the Blowfish algorithm and salts the password before encrypting it.

Bcrypt is one of the strongest algorithms available, as it can take up to 10 million attempts to crack a single password.

The scrypt algorithm is based on a memory-hard function and is designed to resist brute-force attacks.

It also uses salts and takes into account the hardware of the computer it’s running on, so it’s more difficult for attackers to crack the password.

When it comes to Python password hashing, it’s important to choose an algorithm that is suitable for your application.

All three algorithms mentioned above offer great security, but you should pick the one that best suits your needs.

Additionally, you should use unique salts for each user and generate secure random values for each salt. Lastly, make sure to use secure hashes with appropriate lengths.

For example, when using PBKDF2, SHA256 should be the minimum length for secure hashing. Similarly, when using bcrypt or scrypt, 16 bytes or more of salts should be used in order to increase security.

Also keep in mind that all passwords must be hashed prior to being stored in any system or database.

Finally, avoid using plain text or weak hashing algorithms since these will provide little to no protection against malicious attacks.

to create an instance of the sha256 class:

h = sha256()

Now, use the update() command to update the hash object:

h.update(b’12345′)

Use hexdigest() to get the digest of the string passed to the update() method:

hash = h.hexdigest()

to create an instance of the sha256 class:

h = sha256()

Now, use the update() command to update the hash object:

h.update(b’12345′)

Use hexdigest() to get the digest of the string passed to the update() method:

hash = h.hexdigest()

Then digest is the output of the hash function.

Print hash variable to see hash value in the console:

print(hash)

The complete script looks like this:

from hashlib import sha256

h = sha256()

h.update(b’python1990K00L’)

hash = h.hexdigest()

print(hash)verall, password hashing is a great way to protect users’ passwords from being compromised, but it’s important to be aware of these potential drawbacks and take steps to mitigate them. 

Run the code on the console, you should see the following output:

 827ccb0eea8a706c4c34a16891f84e7b

Then digest is the output of the hash function.

Print hash variable to see hash value in the console:

print(hash)

The complete script looks like this:

from hashlib import sha256

h = sha256()

h.update(b’python1990K00L’)

hash = h.hexdigest()

print(hash)verall, password hashing is a great way to protect users’ passwords from being compromised, but it’s important to be aware of these potential drawbacks and take steps to mitigate them. 

Run the code on the console, you should see the following output:

 827ccb0eea8a706c4c34a16891f84e7b

Advantages of password hashing

• Improved security – Password hashing provides improved security when it comes to user authentication. By converting the plain-text password into an irreversible hash, it becomes much harder for a malicious attacker to gain access to user accounts.

• Increased control – With password hashing, users have more control over their passwords, since they can easily reset them if necessary. Additionally, administrators can also restrict the number of login attempts in order to prevent brute-force attacks.

• Reduced storage requirements – Hashed passwords require less storage space than plain-text passwords, which can be especially beneficial for large organizations with hundreds or thousands of users.

• Easy integration – Password hashing algorithms are available as open-source code, so they can be easily integrated into most existing systems and applications.

Disadvantages of password hashing

 When it comes to password hashing, there are a few potential drawbacks that must be considered. 

The first potential drawback is the fact that password hashing algorithms can be computationally expensive. This means that as the number of users on your website or application increases, it can become more and more difficult for your system to quickly hash all the passwords. This can potentially lead to a slower user experience and even outages. 

Hash collisions are practically unavoidable.

Hash tables are quite inefficient when there are many collisions.

The Hash table does not allow null values.

Another issue with password hashing is the possibility of a brute-force attack. This is when someone tries to guess a user’s password by trying every possible combination until they eventually get it right. Password hashing makes it harder to guess passwords, but if the algorithm used is too simple, it can still be vulnerable to this kind of attack. 

Finally, password hashes can be vulnerable to pre-computation attacks. In this type of attack, an attacker has already pre-computed a set of hashes and then tries to match them with the ones stored in your system. If any match, they will have to access to the corresponding passwords. 

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