Secure Hash Algorithm 2

What Does Secure Hash Algorithm 2 Mean?

The Secure Hash Algorithm 2 (SHA-2) is a computer security cryptographic algorithm. It was created by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in collaboration with the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) as an enhancement to the SHA-1 algorithm. SHA-2 has six different variants, which differ in proportion with the bit size used for encrypting data.


Techopedia Explains Secure Hash Algorithm 2

The SHA-2 family of hash functions includes:

  • SHA-224
  • SHA-256
  • SHA-284
  • SHA-512
  • SHA-512/224
  • SHA-512/256

The number in each variant represents the bit values. SHA-2 provides better prevention against collision, meaning the same input data always has a different hash value. SHA-2 uses from 64 to 80 rounds of cryptography operations, and it is commonly used to validate and sign digital security certificates and documents.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.