What is the Difference Between Hash and Encryption? with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

The main difference between hashing and encryption is that the hashed output cannot be converted back to the original message whereas the encrypted message can be converted back to the original message.                                             Hash and Encryption

It is important to ensure that the exchange of information on the web is secure. There are several methods to make data secure. Two of them are hashing and encryption. Hashing applies hashing functions to the data and transforms it into a numeric value. Matching the hashes of sent and received messages ensures that they are both the same and helps verify data. On the other hand, encryption is the process of converting the original data to be transmitted in an unrecognizable format so that it cannot be read by unauthorized persons. It helps to transfer the data securely.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is hash?
     – Definition, Functionality
2. What is encryption?
     – Definition, Functionality
3. What is the difference between hashing and encryption?
     – Comparison of key differences

Key terms

hashing, encryption

what is hash

Hashing is a mathematical operation that converts data into a unique number generated from a text string. The output is known as the message digest or hash. It is possible to hash any data. The input data can be of arbitrary length, but the output is always fixed. In hashing, the data goes through the hashing algorithm and provides a unique result, but it cannot be converted back to the original data. A single piece of data will always produce the same hash. Hashing is easier to perform, but difficult to reverse. MD5, SHA1 and SHA-256 are some hash functions.

                                                                   Figure 1: Hashing

For example, a user can create an email account by providing an email address and password. The email provider does not save the password. Runs the password through a hash algorithm and saves the password hash. When trying to open the email account, the email provider checks the hash of the password and the hash of the originally saved password. When the two hashes are the same, the user gets the authorization to access the email.

What is encryption?

Encryption is the process of converting the original message into an unrecognizable form so that it cannot be identified by unauthorized third parties. It is done at the end of the sender. The new form of the message is totally different from the original message. Therefore, it is a great mechanism to securely transmit data over a communication channel. The sender uses an encryption algorithm and key to convert the original message into an encrypted message. The encrypted message is also called the ciphertext. At the receiver’s end, this encrypted message is converted back to the original message using decryption algorithms and a key. This is called decryption.

                                                   Figure 2: Encryption and Decryption

Also, there are two methods used in encryption and decryption. They are called symmetric and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption uses the same key for both encryption and decryption. Asymmetric encryption uses two keys (public and private key) for encryption and decryption.

Difference Between Hashing and Encryption

Definition

Hashing is the process of using hash functions on data to map it to a fixed-size numeric output. Encryption is the process of encoding a message or information so that only authorized parties can access it.

Base

The basic difference between hashing and encryption is that hashing converts the data into a message digest or hash, which is a number generated from a text string, while encryption uses encryption algorithms and a key to convert the message to an unrecognizable format.

Use of keys

Hashing does not use any keys, while encryption uses keys. This is another difference between hash and encryption.

Goal

An important difference between hashing and encryption is that the goal of using hashing is to verify the data, while the goal of encryption is to transmit the data securely.

Use

The hash is used to send passwords, files and to search. Encryption is used to transfer sensitive business information etc.

Reversibility

Furthermore, we can identify a difference between hashing and encryption in their reversibility, i.e. the output of the hashing cannot be reversed back to the original message. The encrypted message can be transformed into the original message by using decryption algorithms and the corresponding key.

Functions and algorithms used

MD5, SHA1 and SHA-256 are some hash functions. C4, AES, DES, 3DES are some symmetric encryption algorithms. Diffie-Hellman and RSA algorithm are some asymmetric encryption algorithms.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the main difference between hashing and encryption is that the hashing output cannot be converted back to the original message or data whereas the encrypted message can be converted back to the original message.

Reference:

1.“Cryptography Hash Functions.” Www.tutorialspoint.com, Tutorials Point, available here.
2. Ray, Shaan. “Crypto Hashing – Hacker Noon”. Hacker Noon, Hacker Noon, Nov 3, 2017, Available here.

Courtesy image:

1. “Hash function” 公有领域, via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Encryption1” By Munkhzaya Ganbold – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia.

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