What is cryptographic hashing?
Cryptographic hashing is a method of cryptography that converts any form of data into a unique string of text. Any piece of data can be hashed, no matter its size or type. In traditional hashing, regardless of the data’s size, type, or length, the hash that any data produced is always the same length. A hash is designed to act as a one-way function — you can put data into a hashing algorithm and get a unique string, but if you come upon a new hash, you cannot decipher the input data it represents. A unique piece of data will always produce the same hash.
Hashing is a mathematical operation that is easy to perform, but extremely difficult to reverse. (The difference between hashing and encryption is that encryption can be reversed, or decrypted, using a specific key.) The most widely used hashing functions are MD5, SHA1 and SHA-256. Some hashing processes are significantly harder to crack than others. For example, SHA1 is easier to crack than bcrypt.