Encryption and hashing are foundational concepts in computing for any type of “secret,” but you might not notice how prevalent they are. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on encryption, hashing and salting for passwords. Passwords are the least secure method of logon authentication, but are still widely used. Bad actors can exploit compromised credentials for data breaches, account takeover fraud, ransomware and other criminal activities.
Hashing and encryption are both ways to keep data safe, but have different functions. Password encryption is used when the plaintext must be recovered for any reason. Password hashing is typical on the server side when the server operators don't need to know the plaintext, they just need to demonstrate that the user knows the plaintext. These functions take place in the background, as does salting, without adding friction to the user experience.
Enterprises that must use passwords should always use proven cryptographic tools for keeping passwords safe rather than trying to build their own from scratch. Read on to learn more about encryption, hashing and salting and how they are used.