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Hashing

Data security is ensured through the use of hash alogrithmsHashing is how we know our data acquisition has produced an exact bit-for-bit duplicate of our source. Hash values are generated mathematically by algorithms. Even the minor changes to data on the drive, like clicking the mouse, will create a radically different hash value. This makes it easy to verify legal evidence has not been compromised or corrupted. It’s because of these hash values courts around the world readily accept digital forensic findings as admissible evidence.

Until recently, one of the most common algorithms used in consumer, industrial and military digital security was the MD5 cryptographic hash function. MD5 is a 128-bit algorithm originally developed in 1991. The first MD5 security flaw was found in 1996.

More followed between 2004 and 2007, specifically finding MD5 is not collision resistant, meaning not all inputs create completely unique hash values. In 2008 MD5 was declared “cryptographically broken” by the Carnergie Mellon Software Engineering Institute.

 

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