What is the most secure hashing algorithm in the .NET framework?

What is the most secure hashing algorithm in the .NET framework?

The size of the generated hash and the speed of the algorithm are not important. I'm really only interested in it being the most secure option. I don't want to use any third party libraries either.

The version of the .NET framework I'm using if 3.5 if that makes any difference.

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I would think SHA512 would be your best bet from the built-in hash algorithms.

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It's the largest hash form of a very secure algorithm..
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Also, don't forget to use a salt to help protect the hash against dictionary attacks..
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You state that the speed of the algorithm is not important, but actually it's essential.. A lot depends on the definition of 'secure', SHA512 is (just about) impossible to reverse, but actually it's fairly easy to brute force attack it.. This is because it is fast - you could think of it as a fundamental design flaw of the SHA 'family' in that they're designed to be very quick.. This is a problem - SHA512 achieves it's design goal of being very fast (it's not much slower than SHA1) but if you're a hacker trying brute force passwords that makes it easier to crack.

10 or even 5 years ago a serious brute force attack would have been out of the question, now it's a couple of fancy graphics cards or some cloud time.. This is where key-stretching algorithms come in - they make the process of building a password hash deliberately slow.

Slow enough that users checking an individual hash won't notice but a brute force attack will take too long.. A good example of a key-stretching algorithm is RFC2898 or PBKDF2 - it uses a long salt and executes an SHA algorithm thousands of times to create a hash that's slow to reproduce.. .Net has a native implementation of this: Rfc2898DeriveBytes. They use it for System.Web.Crypto.HashPassword, but you can easily review their source to use that elsewhere.. On my machine now (a fairly rubbish old laptop) a single .Net Rfc2898DeriveBytes hash with 1000 iterations (the default) takes around 50ms, while I can brute force around 250,000 SHA512 hashes in a second.. So in .Net right now the most secure option is to use Rfc2898DeriveBytes.. However RFC2898/PBKDF2 does have a weakness - while it is slow parallel computing is getting cheaper and cheaper and it doesn't take much memory to build each hash.

Right now it's pretty un-brute-forceable, but in 5 or 10 years?. So the next generation are algorithms like bcrypt/scrypt that are designed to use a lot of memory for each hash, making parallel executions expensive.

While there are .Net implementations there isn't a native one (yet) and I'd be wary of using one until there is - using these will affect loads of things like concurrent log-ons (if used for passwords) and so introduce a lot of risk for early adopters..


User asked what is most secure Hashing algorithm in .NET, PBKDF2 is not a hashing algorithm, it is a method of deriving encryption keys and yes the underlying pseudo random function MAY be a hashing algorithm however in Rfc2898DeriveBytes it is actually HMACSHA1 over x passes with each byte of each hash value from each pass XORed with the next (know as key stretching).. So to answer the question currently HMACSHA512 is the most secure hashing algorithm in .NET currently.. If you wish to "hash" passwords, (And I say hash because it is not a direct hash function output) here is an API that takes PBKDF2 and uses HMACSHA512 to derive bytes rather than the Rfc2898DeriveBytes MS implemented using HMACSHA1: https://sourceforge.net/projects/pwdtknet.

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