I love hash browns and roasted potato hash. And although hashing your stored password data doesn’t require a little salt, pepper, and ketchup, doing so can be delicious to your clients – and keep them coming back for more of what you’re offering them year-after-year. Doesn’t that sound s-mashing!
Do you have a website that people log into? Then security either is or should be a primary concern for you. Getting hacked is a real risk. Username and password information is dangerous in malicious hands. That’s why scanning your site for vulnerabilities is so important.
Many people use the same username and password for a multitude of sites (a practice we do not endorse). So if hackers get that information from you, it can cause a lot of grief for your customers. “So how,” you might ask, “do I protect my online visitors from identity theft?”
For those of us who didn’t start writing code when we were 8-years-old, hashing is when you take data and feed it through a scrambler to get a different, randomized value. It’s a special method of encoding that’s designed to work forwards, but not backward. Like mixing paint, when you process the password with the hashing formula, you get a different “color.” That new code cannot easily be reverse-engineered into the password again.
For the user, that means that each time they put in their password, it’s processed. Then it’s checked against the stored hash value on file. If they match, it lets the user in. If they don’t match, it gives them the “invalid password” error. This protects your client, even if they just forgot their password.
For the hacker, it means that if and when they steal passwords, they just get a big batch of random values. As long as they don’t know what hashing function you used, they won’t be able to match a password to the hash. The data they stole will be useless to them. Of course, Trust Guard’s security scanning can protect you from no-good online thieves from accessing your website in the first place!
What can potatoes teach us about securing your website? If you’re looking for a simple step you can take in the direction of increased cyber security, then grab some taters (small bits of code) and start hashing.
Special thanks to writer Stephen Porritt.