This blog post will introduce cryptographic hash functions. We are going to discuss the Merkle-Damgård construction which underlies many hash functions that were and are used nowadays. The MD4, MD5, SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash families are all functions that built on top of the Merkle-Damgård construction. Then we will introduce an alternative construction that was popularized during the publication of Keccak (SHA-3): The Sponge construction.
But what are cryptographic hash functions good for?
The general idea is to apply a unique and stable fingerprint to each input data \(x …