Know About Forensics Hash Function Algorithm

MailXaminer | February 26th, 2020 | Forensics

The forensics hash function algorithm are cryptographic function, which is used to generate a hash value of the original data file. The hash value of the file is a fixed size string value of any specific data file which is used for the various encryptions, authentications purpose. In digital forensics hashing, if any alteration made with even the single bit of the file, the complete hash value of that file will change. There may be various kinds of hash functions in network security, that can be used for different purposes. In the upcoming sections, we will discuss these things in detail.

What is Hashing in Computer Forensics?

Hash function algorithm in cryptography, always have a goal to generate a safe and unbreakable hash, but, do you know what is a hash?

“A hash is a value which is produced from a base input value by using a cryptographic hashing algorithm.”

We can say that hash value in digital forensics is the distilled summary of the original data file. Hash is the string value or block of the data file which is generated from the original data file using a mathematical forensics hash function algorithm. The hash value is generally smaller than the original data file. It can never be the same for two different files. In digital forensics hashing, if even a single bit of data change in the file, then the hash value of the file will automatically change completely.

Also keep in mind that, a one-way hashing algorithm that produces a hash value cannot be converted back to the original data file, is a good hash algorithm.

Which Can be the Ideal Cryptographic Hash Functions?

There are some important points to figure out the ideal cryptographic forensics hash function algorithm:

  • The hashing algorithm which fast computes the hash value of any kind of data can be said a good algorithm.
  • To regenerate the original message from a computed hash function unique values, should be impossible. Then, we can say that the algorithm produces the unbreakable hash values.
  • Good and successful hash function in network security must avoid hash collisions, each message must have the unique hash value.
  • Any alteration to the data file, even the smallest one, must change the complete hash value. It should be completely changed. This is called the “Avalanche Effect”

What Do Hashing in Computer Forensics Use For?

Hash function algorithm in cryptography is especially used in IT and Digital Forensics. The hash function value are used in message authentication, digital signatures, various authentications like message authentication codes (MACs), etc. They are also used in hashing for fingerprinting, identifications, identifying files, checksums, detecting duplicates, etc.

Hashing is most commonly used for data encryption. A password of the file can store in the form of hashes. So that if the database breached anyhow, and plaintext passwords are not accessible, then, the hash value in digital forensics can be utilized for verification. Some popular forensics hash function algorithm are MD5, SHA1, SHA256.

Here Comes the Most Standard Hashing Algorithms

A. MD5 (Message Digest 5)

In cryptography, MD5 is one of the most popular and widely used cryptographic hashing algorithms that produces 128-bit hash value. MD5 hashing in computer forensics is widely employed in a major variety of security applications. It is a one-way hash function, especially used to check the integrity of files. One cannot generally decrypt the MD5 hash to get the original message. 

It is one of the most widely known cryptographic hash function, used for many years and still is in use. It was accepted for many years for encryption, and now it is majorly used to verify the data against unintentional corruption.

B. SHA1 Secure Hash Algorithm

SHA1 is another cryptographic algorithm that takes an input file and produces a hash value for that file which is 160 bit(20-bytes) in length. This hash function in network security is also known as a message digest. It is typically rendered as a hexadecimal number which is of 40 characters in hexadecimal form.

SHA1 cryptographic hash algorithm is most commonly used to verify whether the files are being altered or not. This process takes place by producing the checksum before the transmission of the data files. Once the file reaches the destination, the hash value in digital forensics again produces to verify the checksum for the same file. 

C. SHA256 (Secure Hash Algorithm 256)

SHA256 cryptographic hash (sometimes called “digest”) is also said as a one-way hash. It is almost impossible to reverse the original file from the hash value and works as the signature for a text or data set. It converts a text of any length into a unique string of 356 bit (32-bytes) in size for the data file. 

SHA-256 forensics hash function algorithm is majorly used to check the integrity of the data files including, digital signatures, challenge handshake algorithms, etc. It is important to remember that it is not an ‘encryption’, as it cannot decrypt the data back to its original form.

How to Calculate Hash Value of a File?

The hash value of a file is also called as the hashes and checksum for the file. It is the string value of a specific length generated using hash function algorithm in cryptography. It may be having different uses mainly for forensic purposes. It is not the process to be done manually. Several hashing tools for computer forensics are available specially designed to calculate the hash values of the files, i.e. MailXaminer. It is one of the best software which automatically calculates the different hash values of the files in a single attempt. Users can obtain the various hash value in digital forensics of the files in a single glance, as required. Let’s go further to know how is it so?

It is the paid software, which also provides the demo version with some limitations. Before purchasing the full license, the user can test the performance of the software by requesting the demo version of the tool of the official website. To implement hashing in computer forensics, it is really simple to get the hash value for any file by using the tool. It supports 20+ file formats and various email clients. The software has many more advanced features that can be used in a forensic investigation, which you can know by overviewing the tool’s features. Now we are just focusing on the process of obtaining the hash values in the most reliable way without using cryptographic hashing algorithms.

While browsing the file into the software, at the ‘Settings’ window, the user just has to mark the checkbox corresponding to the hash functions option. Users can select one or all the hash value in digital forensics they need to acquire from the software panel.

After scanning the file, the screen will show the previews of all the uploaded data files, including the hash function unique values for each file. If you have selected all the three hash value option, then the tool will display all the hash values for each file.

Concluding Lines

In today’s times, cryptographic hash function may be pretty useful. In order to keep the security standard, it is always necessary to follow the advanced technologies, especially when using the elements for security purposes. Here, we have given an overview of the most widely used forensics hash function algorithm and suggested a reliable way to calculate the multiple hash value in digital forensics using the most trusted MailXaminer tool.