SSL uses a cryptographic hash function similar to checksum, to ensure data integrity in transit and detect accidental alterations in the data. The hash is encrypted with a secret key with the private key belonging to the sender encrypts the hash for the digital signature of the message.
When secret key information is included with the cryptographic hash, the resulting hash is known as a Keyed-Hashing Message Authentication Code (HMAC) value. HMAC is a mechanism for message authentication that uses cryptographic hash functions. Use this mechanism with any iterative cryptographic hash function, in combination with a secret shared key.
In the product, both well known one-way hash algorithms, MD5 and SHA-1, are supported. One-way hash is an algorithm that converts processing data into a string of bits known as a hash value or a message digest. One-way means that it is extremely difficult to turn the fixed string back into the original data. The following explanation includes both the MD5 and SHA-1 one-way hash algorithms...
- MD5 is a hash algorithm designed for a 32-bit machine. It takes a message of arbitrary length as input and produces a 128-bit hash value as output. Although this process is less secure than SHA-1, MD5 provides better performance.
- SHA-1 is a secure hash algorithm specified in the Secure Hash Standard. It is designed to produce a 160-bit hash. Although it is slightly slower than MD5, the larger message digest makes it more secure against attacks like brute-force collision.
Refer to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) specification at http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2246.txt for further information.