Who Broke the SHA1 Algorithm (And What Does It Mean for Bitcoin)?

The cryptography world has been buzzing with the news that researchers at Google and CWI Amsterdam have succeeded in successfully generating a ‘hash collision’ for two different documents using the SHA1 encryption algorithm, rendering the algorithm ‘broken’ according to cryptographic standards.

But what does this mean in plain language, and what are the implications for the bitcoin network?

Hash collisions

As laid out in a recent CoinDesk explainer, a hash function (of which SHA1 is an example) is used to take a piece of data of any length, process it, and return another piece of data – the ‘hash digest’ – with a fixed length.

One way that hash functions are used in computing is to check whether the contents of files are identical: as long as a hash function is secure, then two files which hash to the same value will always have the same contents.

However, a hash collision occurs when two different files hash to the same value.

Given the mathematical laws that govern hash functions, it is inevitable that hash collisions will occur for some values of input data (because the range of data you could put into the hash function is potentially infinite, but

Read more ... source: CoinDesk

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