Merkle-Damgård Construction Method and Alternatives: A Review

Harshvardhan Tiwari


Cryptographic hash function is an important cryptographic tool in the field of information security. Design of most widely used hash functions such as MD5 and SHA-1 is based on the iterations of compression function by Merkle-Damgård construction method with constant initialization vector. Merkle-Damgård construction showed that the security of hash function depends on the security of the compression function. Several attacks on Merkle-Damgård construction based hash functions motivated researchers to propose different cryptographic constructions to enhance the security of hash functions against the differential and generic attacks. Cryptographic community had been looking for replacements for these weak hash functions and they have proposed new hash functions based on different variants of Merkle-Damgård construction. As a result of an open competition NIST announced Keccak as a SHA-3 standard. This paper provides a review of cryptographic hash function, its security requirements and different design methods of compression function.


Cryptographic hash function; Information security; Merkle-Damgård construction; MD5; SHA-1; Differential attacks; Generic attacks

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Journal of Information and Organizational Sciences (Online)
ISSN 1846-9418 (online)
ISSN 1846-3312 (print)