12 Remarkable Difference between MD5 and SHA-1 with Table

What is the difference between MD5 and SHA-1?

MD5 is an abbreviation of message digest while SHA-1 an abbreviation of Secure Hash Algorithm. These two hashing algorithms help to provide security of data for multimedia authentication.

The main difference between MD5 and SHA-1 is that MD5 is not cryptographically stronger and not secure while SHA is more cryptographically stronger and secure with versions such as SHA 256 and SHA 512.

Understanding the core difference between MD5 and SHA-1 will a technocrat know the function of the two hashing algorithms. Let’s find out:

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Difference between MD5 and SHA-1

What is MD5?

MD5 is a hash algorithm that was introduced by Ron Rivest and it is also known as the message-digest algorithm. The main aim of developing the hash function was to be used as a cryptographic hash function.

The hash function has the capability of producing a 128-bit hash value though it is highly vulnerable to hacking. However, it is typically used as a checksum to verify data integrity.

The most wonderful thing about the hash algorithm is that it can be used to find the partition for a specific key in a partitioned database.

Besides that, it is capable of finding two separate messages that are hashed to the same value. The hash function is commonly used in security protocols and applications such as SSH, SSL, and IPSec.

What is SHA-1?

SHA-1 is a hash algorithm discovered by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is also known as the secured hash algorithm and it normally belongs to a family of cryptographic hash functions.

It is a one-way hash function that has the ability to process a message with a maximum length of 264 – to 2128 – bits to produce a 160- to 512-bit condensed representation.

However, SHA-1 uses a 160-bit hash function for checksum calculator which is ideal for verification of file integrity. The hash function tends to be similar to that of MD5 though this one is more secured.

Comparison Chart (MD5 VS SHA-1)

Basic Terms MD5 SHA-1
Meaning Commonly used hash algorithm for producing 128-bit hash value. It is a set of cryptographic hash functions for producing 264 – to 2128 – bits hash value.
Discovered By Ron Rivest U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology
Long Form Message-Digest Algorithm Secure Hash Algorithm
Security Less secured More secured
Speed Faster Less fast
Attacks Prone to attacks Less prone to attacks
Buffer space 128 bits 160 bits
Year of publishing 1992 1995
Uses little-endian scheme big-endian scheme
Iteration Number 64 80
Rounds 16 20
Simplicity and complexity Simple Complex

Main Difference between MD5 and SHA-1

  1. MD5 stands for Message-Digest Algorithm while SHA-1 for Secure Hash Algorithm.
  2. MD5 tend to have 128 bits length of message digest while that of SHA-1 is 160 bits long.
  3. SHA-1 tends to be quite secured, unlike MD5.
  4. MD5 is normally faster than SHA-1
  5. SHA-1 is more complex than MD5 which is quite simple.
  6. MD5 is highly prone to attacks unlike SHA-1
  7. The iteration number for MD5 is 64 while that of SHA-1 os 80
  8. MD5 was discovered in 1992 by Ron Rivest while SHA-1 was discovered in 1995 by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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Comparison Video


The core difference between MD5 and SHA-1 is the main aim of development and vulnerability to attacks. SHA-1 is believed to have brought more improvement in hash value when compared to MD5.

However, there are still a lot of issues associated with SHA-1 but the introduction of SHA 256 and SHA 512 have helped to resolve the problems.

More Sources and References

  • https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b111/0264f5efa9848bfa647cc8f7f8ea7ecebc34.pdf
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261304772_Analysis_and_comparison_of_MD5_and_SHA-1_algorithm_implementation_in_Simple-O_authentication_based_security_system
  • https://www.tutorialspoint.com/difference-between-md5-and-sh1 

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