Hashing is the process of translating an input as a key into a uniform length output code. The input key may be fixed length, such as an integer, or variable lengths such as a name or password. The output is a hash code used to index a hash table holding the data or records, or pointers to them.

Hash functions can perform three (3) specific functions:

  1. Convert variable-length keys into fixed-length hash values (valuable for speed and recursion)
  2. Scramble the bits of the keys so that the output values are evenly distributed over the keyspace (randomized and unpredictable)
  3. Map the keys into ones less than or equal to the size of the table.

Strong hashing functions ensure two things:

  1. quick computationally in generating output
  2. minimizing collisions on the output given unique input keys

Hash tables create a list where all value pairs are stored and easily accessed through its index. The result is a technique for accessing key values in a database table in a very efficient manner as well as a method to improve the security of a database through encryption.

Recursively Hashing Passwords

One of the most important uses of hashing algorithms occurs in password managers.  In this article, Cyberhoot describes how password storage should be salted and hashed in order to prevent hackers from being able to reverse engineer a password from its hash table entry. This is accomplished by using the output of a hashing function as the input for the next hash computation, recursively, over and over again. In the case of a Master Password, this can be done 10’s of thousands of times to provide the greatest protection for the owner of the master password. When websites do not perform appropriate recursive hashing functions on our passwords, our passwords become available to hackers to reuse in attacks against us.

What Should My SMB or MSP Do?

Hashing and Encryption are important to an SMB or MSP in order to protect the confidentiality of critical and sensitive information. SMBs/MSPs may fall under legislative controls such as HIPAA or PCI which require specific forms of data (Health Records, Credit Card PAN information) to be protected from disclosure (protect confidentiality).

The best strategy for SMB’s to deal with such requirements is NOT to have such data in their possession. For example, PCI compliance obligations can often be avoided by partnering with online Web Services that perform the Credit Authorization outside of your Website or store and simply provide the SMB/MSP an authorization code back.

Next best, in cases where an SMB/MSP must collect and store such critical and sensitive data, then hashing the data recursively and possibly encrypting it would be advisable. Just be sure to protect the decryption keys.

Additional Cybersecurity Recommendations

Additionally, these recommendations below will help you and your business stay secure with the various threats you may face on a day-to-day basis. All of the suggestions listed below can be gained by hiring CyberHoot’s vCISO Program development services.

  1. Govern employees with policies and procedures. You need a password policy, an acceptable use policy, an information handling policy, and a written information security program (WISP) at a minimum.
  2. Train employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks. Adopt a Learning Management system like CyberHoot to teach employees the skills they need to be more confident, productive, and secure.
  3. Test employees with Phishing attacks to practice. CyberHoot’s Phish testing allows businesses to test employees with believable phishing attacks and put those that fail into remedial phish training.
  4. Deploy critical cybersecurity technology including two-factor authentication on all critical accounts. Enable email SPAM filtering, validate backups, deploy DNS protection, antivirus, and anti-malware on all your endpoints.
  5. In the modern Work-from-Home era, make sure you’re managing personal devices connecting to your network by validating their security (patching, antivirus, DNS protections, etc) or prohibiting their use entirely.
  6. If you haven’t had a risk assessment by a 3rd party in the last 2 years, you should have one now. Establishing a risk management framework in your organization is critical to addressing your most egregious risks with your finite time and money.
  7. Buy Cyber-Insurance to protect you in a catastrophic failure situation. Cyber-Insurance is no different than Car, Fire, Flood, or Life insurance. It’s there when you need it most.

All of these recommendations are built into CyberHoot the product or CyberHoot’s vCISO Services. With CyberHoot you can govern, train, assess, and test your employees. Visit CyberHoot.com and sign up for our services today. At the very least continue to learn by enrolling in our monthly Cybersecurity newsletters to stay on top of current cybersecurity updates.

If you would like to learn more about Hashing, watch this short 3-minute video:

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