When Hashes Collide

Compliments of this week's Security Threat Watch newsletter. The security industry was abuzz last week with news that collisions--when two different messages result in the same hash--have been discovered in the SHA and MD5 cryptographic functions. When a cryptographic hashing...

August 23, 2004

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Compliments of this week's Security Threat Watch newsletter.

The security industry was abuzz last week with news thatcollisions--when two different messages result in the same hash--havebeen discovered in the SHA and MD5 cryptographic functions. When acryptographic hashing function is found to produce collisions, it isgenerally accepted that the overall security of the function willcontinue to degrade as more optimized methods for producing collisionsare discovered.

In other words, once you can cause the function tocollide, it's only a matter of time until you can find quicker, easierways for it to collide. Does this mean that the SHA and MD5 functionsshould be immediately tossed into the waste bin? Not necessarily. Usinga stronger SHA version (like SHA-256) is still a viable option at themoment.

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