SHA-256 is a secure encryption algorithm that has gained popularity due to the Bitcoin code. The abbreviation SHA is the Secure Hash Algorithm, and 256 means that the cryptocurrency algorithm generates a 256-bit hash, i.e., a string of 256 bits. The hash rate for SHA-256-based cryptocurrencies is calculated in units of Gigahash per second (GH/s). It takes six to ten minutes to create a block. For instance, the SHA-256 algorithm can only produce outputs of 256 bits, while the SHA-1 will always generate a 160-bits digest. To illustrate, let’s run the words “Binance” and “binance” through the SHA-256 hashing algorithm (the one used in Bitcoin). Currently, the best public attacks break preimage resistance for 52 out of 64 rounds of SHA-256 or 57 out of 80 rounds of SHA-512, and collision resistance for 46 out of 64 rounds of SHA-256.   SHA-256 and SHA-512, and, to a lesser degree, SHA-224 and SHA-384 are prone to length extension attacks,  rendering it insecure for some applications. For instance, the SHA-256 algorithm can only produce outputs of 256 bits, while the SHA-1 will always generate a 160-bits digest. To illustrate, let’s run the words “Binance” and “binance” through the SHA-256 hashing algorithm (the one used in Bitcoin). Bitcoin’s current algorithm, SHA 256 still hasn’t had its collision resistance broken but there are already plans to switch to a completely new SHA-3 generation of algorithms in the future. This problem is explained in more mathematical detail here and here . A Bitcoin attacker would have a one in a trillion chance of getting one satoshi from a successful collision. Even though the SHA-256 algorithm is yet to have its collision resistance broken, there are plans in place to switch to a SHA-3 series of algorithms.
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