Hashing and Encrypting – What’s the Difference?

Hashing & Encrypting - What's the Difference?
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Many people often get confused when it comes to knowing the differences between hashing and encrypting. Online-convert.com has put together this article to help better explain about hashing and encrypting and what’s the difference between both of these important security tools.


What is Encryption?

With so many hackers on the Internet today, without encryption, the web would be like finding a bank vault full of cash wide open with no police around. Think of encryption as thousands of hard to open locks systematically placed to stop intruders. Encryption actually turns data into an array of indecipherable characters. These unreadable characters are not  created into a fixed length so therefore they are almost impossible to decipher or decode.


One huge difference that hashing and encryption have from each other is that if you have the right key or code, you can actually reverse back encrypted strings to their original  form. Public key encryption and Symmetric key encryption are two primary types of encryptions.


While public key encryption has two different keys, in symmetric key encryption both keys are the same. In the public key encryption, one is used to first encrypt the string of data while the private key is then used to decrypt it. Only the person receiving the encrypted messages has access to the private key which allows them to decode the messages even though the public key is accessible for anybody to use it to encrypt their messages. Two popular algorithms are PGP (Public key encryption algorithm) and AES which uses 256 bits of key size so it is considered the gold standard encryption key.


You may also want to read about Different Hash Functions and their Advantages


What is Hashing?

While a hash is a number or a string developed from a string of text,  unlike encryption, the number or string reproduced by hashing results in a fixed length number. The generated string or number will greatly differ with minuscule variations in input.

It is impossible to turn a hash back into its original number or string since the hashing algorithms are constructed for just that. Two popular algorithms are MD5 which produces a 16 byte hash value and SHA which produces a 20-byte hash value.


If wasn’t for both hashing and encrypting, the billions of amounts of data which flows through the Internet daily would be in jeopardy. All of our personal information, credit cards and banking, would be wide open for hackers or anyone to access and use. So we need hashing and encrypting to make our world a safer place; especially in a world where just about everything flows through the web everyday.