Guide to Bcrypt HashingLink to this section
No matter what app or platform you’re building, you want to keep your user’s data safe and secure. A good first step is to tighten your authentication processes and use methods like multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add additional layers of security.
But even with multiple authentication factors at play, password-driven authentication comes with inherent vulnerabilities. These credentials are easy to guess and easy to steal by hackers, offering a weak line of defense to sensitive information.
That’s why more companies are looking to boost their app’s security with strategies such as Bcrypt hashing. This algorithm adds salt (a.k.a. Random data) to passwords and data, making it difficult for intruders to gain unauthorized access.
If you’re looking for a more secure way to store passwords and keep user credentials safe, Brcypt hashing can be a powerful way to protect user information and boost your app’s security.
What is Bcrypt hashing?Link to this section
First created back in 1999, Bcrypt hashing is a way to boost the security of passwords. It combines the processes of hashing and salting passwords to ensure these credentials aren’t saved in plain text.
- Hashing a password takes a plain text password and runs it through a hash algorithm. Hashing won’t change the length of a password, meaning the output will be the same number of characters as the original password.
- The issue here is that hashing is predictable and produces the same results for a specific password, making it easy for hackers to guess that original password.
- Salt means adding a string of random characters to a password. This adds a layer of security that is unpredictable and is used in combination with hashing to make it impossible for hackers to guess credentials.
Using the Blowfish cipher, Bcrypt is an algorithm that adds random strings of characters to passwords. That means Bcrypt hashing adds a level of unpredictability to passwords to make these credentials harder to guess.
Another element of this process is speed. What makes Bcrpyt a preferred choice is that the algorithm doesn’t run too fast, helping to protect against a wide range of cyberattacks.
By combining the salt and hash functions into one process, Brcypt is a commonly used approach to store passwords securely in a database.
How Bcrypt hashing worksLink to this section
One of the best ways to understand how Bcrypt hashing works is to see the process in action. Generally, this algorithm runs like this:
- A plaintext password is entered in the Bcrypt hashing algorithm.
- From here, the algorithm creates a random salt (a.k.a. String of characters) that is combined with the plaintext password.
- The algorithm then runs through a number of rounds of hashing (known as key stretching). The number of rounds is determined by what’s called a ‘work factor’ parameter, which can be anywhere from 10 to 15. It’s important to note that the higher this number, the more rounds of hashing that need to happen (and the more time this process will take).
- From here, the algorithm will spit out a hashed string of characters, combining the salt and the hashed password. This set of hashed credentials can then be stored and saved securely in your database.
- When a user attempts to log in using their plaintext password, this Bcrpyt hashing processing takes place (combining their password with stored salt and completing the pre-determined number of hashing rounds).
- If the hashed string of credentials matches up with the stored hashed credentials, access will be successfully granted. If not, access will be denied.
What makes this hashing process attractive to developers is its ability to stop hackers and intruders from accessing secure information.
Through the process of key stretching (the number of hashing rounds performed on a plaintext password), credentials become increasingly difficult for unauthorized users to guess or intercept. The more rounds of hashing that are involved, the more time-consuming and resource-intensive this attack would be, lowering the likelihood of security breaches.
Even if a user’s password is compromised, hackers won’t be able to perform brute-force attacks or gain unauthorized access thanks to the protections of the stored hashed string.
However, key stretching comes with its drawbacks. The higher the work factor, the more time it will take to complete the hashing process. While this makes your platform more secure, it can impact the user experience and compromise performance.
The benefits of Bcrypt hashingLink to this section
Ensuring your platform remains safe is critical, no matter what app you’re building. Rather than storing user credentials in plain text, Bcrypt hashing allows these passwords to be protected by the salting and hashing processes.
There is a stack of benefits to harnessing Bcrpyt hashing, including:
- Increased security: by adding random strings of characters (salt) to hashed credentials, these login details become significantly more secure and almost impossible for attackers to guess and intercept.
- Greater compliance: this bit is especially important if you’re operating in highly regulated sectors, like the healthcare or finance industries. With strict regulations and rules around how you handle users’ personal details and information, having a clear process in place for handling sensitive data is essential to meeting your compliance obligations.
- Safeguarding your reputation: you don’t need to be reminded of what’s at stake when it comes to safeguarding users’ sensitive information. Data breaches and leaks can be devastating to a company’s reputation, putting your hard work, brand name, and users’ trust at risk (as well as causing big financial and legal headaches, too).
With a secure range of default settings, Bcrypt is one of the most secure and widely used methods for storing sensitive information and safeguarding passwords.
Best practice tips for implementing Bcrypt hashingLink to this section
Whether you’re looking to prevent brute-force or rainbow table attacks, Bcrpyt hashing offers valuable protection and additional layers of security for user credentials.
But the key to getting this hashing process right is to understand how to implement it effectively. Here are a few places to start:
- Follow salting best practices: salt is what makes Bcrypt hashing so secure. Make sure you’re using a unique string of random text (salt) for each user and storing this securely with their hashed password on your database.
- Consider how many work factors are right for your needs: increasing the work factor does boost the security of your hashed passwords, but it does slow down the process. Strike the right balance between usability and security to keep your app running smoothly.
- Strengthen password security: while hashing does help to keep passwords secure, it’s important to ensure each user’s plaintext password is stored safely. Ensure you’ve set up secure password managers for any staff and encourage protocols like MFA to keep all passwords out of the hands of unwanted intruders.
Bcrypt hashing may have been around for decades, but it has stood the test of time. By combining the power of hashing and salting, this approach to password storage and management is considered to be one of the strongest currently available. Following best practice recommendations will help you implement and safeguard the integrity of your platforms for years to come.
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