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What is SHA-384?

The Secure Hash Algorithm 384 (SHA-384) is a cryptographic hash function that is used to generate a unique digital fingerprint of a message or data. It is one of the members of the SHA-2 family of cryptographic hash functions, which also includes SHA-256, SHA-512, and others.

How Does SHA-384 Work?

SHA-384 works by taking a message or data of any size and processing it through a series of mathematical operations to generate a fixed-size output, which is always 384 bits (48 bytes) long. The output generated by SHA-384 is commonly referred to as the message digest, hash value, or digital fingerprint of the input data.

The SHA-384 algorithm uses a Merkle–Damgård construction, which means that it breaks up the input data into fixed-size blocks and processes each block through a compression function. The compression function takes the current state of the hash and the current block of input data as inputs and outputs a new state of the hash. This process is repeated for each block of input data until the entire message has been processed.

The SHA-384 algorithm also includes several other components, such as padding, message length encoding, and a finalization step, which ensure that the output generated by the algorithm is unique and resistant to various cryptographic attacks.

Why is SHA-384 Important?

SHA-384 is an important cryptographic hash function because it provides a high level of security and is widely used in various security applications. Some of the common applications of SHA-384 include:

  • Integrity checking: SHA-384 can be used to verify the integrity of data by comparing the hash value of the original data with the hash value of the received data. If the hash values match, it means that the data has not been tampered with during transmission.
  • Digital signatures: SHA-384 is used in digital signature schemes to generate a unique digital fingerprint of a message, which can be used to verify the authenticity and integrity of the message.
  • Password storage: SHA-384 is often used to store passwords in a secure and hashed format. This ensures that even if an attacker gains access to the password database, they cannot easily recover the original passwords.
  • Key derivation: SHA-384 can be used to derive keys for various cryptographic applications, such as encryption and authentication.

SHA-384 vs SHA-256 vs SHA-512

SHA-384 is often compared to two other members of the SHA-2 family of cryptographic hash functions, SHA-256 and SHA-512. The main differences between these three algorithms are:

  • Output size: SHA-256 generates a 256-bit output, SHA-384 generates a 384-bit output, and SHA-512 generates a 512-bit output.
  • Security level: While all three algorithms are considered secure, SHA-512 provides a higher level of security due to its larger output size.
  • Performance: SHA-256 is faster than SHA-384 and SHA-512, while SHA-512 is slower than SHA-256 and SHA-384.


SHA-384 is a widely used cryptographic hash function that provides