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Is there any possible way I can download a program, type in a message, and watch the program display visually what iterations are going on and what formula the character is being fed through all the way down to the output message of a SHA-256 operation or is that just too geeky to ask for?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Note that in the graphic you've linked in the comment:

each A to H is a 32 bit value, and the dark blue boxes are binary operations:

Ch(x,y,z) = (x and y) xor (not(x) and z)

You won't see anything useful on this level, and when drawing a complete diagram with bits, you won't see anything useful in an ocean of moving bits, as funny as it would be.

Here are some example values with intermediate internal states, already giving an ocean of hex digits, but are useful to verify your own implementations.

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You should be able to build this.

  1. As mentioned, get some source code for SHA-256 encryption.
  2. Trace the algorithm for the events you want to plot graphically.
  3. Create listeners for those events--have them pick up the values being operated on.
  4. Send messages to your graphics/visual tool/classes from the listeners.
  5. Run the encryption on something and see what happens.

Good luck!

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Look at this online - SHA-256 Encryption Tool. You may look at algorithm how it works, but debugging the process does not seem feasible.

More info on subject matter in Cryptographic hash function and post here.

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I have examined those before, I'm mostly interested in an animation version of this image:… Found at the page of: I'd just like to see it in action obviously debugging is impossible because then that would make the hashing function flawed. – Xenland Jul 18 '12 at 23:40

Inspired by Ken Shirriff via, I have created a Google sheet which reveals the intricate details of the step-by-step process of calculating SHA256.

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Assuming each bit is a "dot", the image you'll see is not that different of the one you can see on a TV tuned on a empty analog channel (white noise).

That's exactly what cryptography is: a spectrum whitener. There is nothing visually meaningful in that

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