The integrity of information is validated on Bitcoin and other crypto assets by an algorithm known as the Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA). Just like most other concepts of cryptography, SHA was also developed years back by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The first SHA protocol launched was known as SHA-0. The following years then saw upgrades and they were named according to the number of bits, like SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA- 384, and SHA-512.
The main objective of the SHA-256 algorithm is to generate a unique and fixed size standard based on the hash which secures the data from non-trusted third parties. The algorithm is such that it produces a different hash value even if one symbol is changed from the data set. The hash is also known as one-way function, making it sufficient to check the quality of the digital signatures and data within the blockchain. SHA-256 is one of the strongest hash functions available to date and is more secure than SHA-1. The number 256 in the name is significant for the final hash digest value. Even if the size of the cleartext or the plaintext is different, the hash value generated is always 256 bits. This algorithm ensures that while the transactions within the blockchain remain transparent, they still maintain user anonymity.
This algorithm is also important because without this algo, the miners won’t be able to mine a block in the bitcoin blockchain using proof-of-work and thereby, won’t be able to receive their rewards.