An MD5 Hash is a hashing algorithm that is a one-way cryptographic function that accepts a message of any length as input and returns as output a fixed-length digest value to be used for authenticating the original message. The MD5 hash function was originally designed for use as a secure cryptographic hash algorithm for authenticating digital signatures. While the MD5 hash has been deprecated for most cryptographic uses, it is still used as a noncryptographic ‘checksum’ to verify and validate file integrity when downloading installation files, prior to their execution. This remains a valuable check on the validity of a file you download to ensure it is free of malware or hidden back doors.
One approach for data-integrity verification (file verification) is to generate an MD5 hash when the content is created and posted to a website for download. Then ongoing checks can be made of the file to validate its MD5 hash (using the checksum) either after a period of storage and presentation to the Internet or by end-users after they have downloaded the file. The hash values are compared and, if they match, this indicates that the data is intact and has not been altered.
What does this mean for an SMB?
It’s important to always be sure you’re installing safe applications or files on your devices. This can be extended to patches from vendors to validate their file integrity as well.
In addition to the recommendations above you can also check website reviews, the application’s country of origin, or the reputation of the developers. Each of these can provide you incremental improvement in your trust of the downloaded file before installing it on your computer.
Additional Business Cybersecurity Recommendations
The recommendations below will help you and your business stay secure against the various threats you face on a day-to-day basis. All of the following suggestions can be accomplished in your company by hiring CyberHoot’s vCISO services. For a vCISO proposal, please email Sales@CyberHoot.com.
- Govern employees with policies and procedures. All companies need password, acceptable use, information handling, and written information security policies (aka: WISP) at a minimum.
- Train employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks. Adopt a learning management system like CyberHoot’s product to teach employees the skills needed to become more confident, productive, and secure.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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’s product and/or vCISO services. With CyberHoot you can govern, train, assess, and test your employees. Visit CyberHoot.com and sign up for our services or email Sales@cyberhoot.com for a free consultation. Do it today as you never know when an attack will occur. At the very least continue learning by enrolling in our monthly Cybersecurity newsletters to stay on top of current cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and breaking news.
To learn more about MD5 Hashes, watch this short 4-minute video:
CyberHoot does have some other resources available for your use. Below are links to all of our resources, feel free to check them out whenever you like:
- Cybrary (Cyber Library)
- Press Releases
- Instructional Videos (HowTo) – very helpful for our SuperUsers!
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