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The MD5 algorithm is a widely used hash function producing a 128-bit hash value. Although MD5 was initially designed to be used as a cryptographic hash function, it has been found to suffer from extensive vulnerabilities. It can still be used as a checksum to verify data integrity, but only against unintentional corruption.

Like most hash functions, MD5 is neither encryption nor encoding. It can be cracked by brute-force attack and suffers from extensive vulnerabilities as detailed in the security section below.

MD5 was designed by Ronald Rivest in 1991 to replace an earlier hash function MD4.The source code in RFC 1321 contains a "by attribution" RSA license. The abbreviation "MD" stands for "Message Digest."

The security of the MD5 has been severely compromised, with its weaknesses having been exploited in the field, most infamously by the Flame malware in 2012. The CMU Software Engineering Institute considers MD5 essentially "cryptographically broken and unsuitable for further use". Despite this known vulnerability MD5 remains in use. In May 2017 MD5 was exploited to crack 98% of the 699,494 passwords from the breach of DaFont's user accounts.


MD5 processes a variable-length message into a fixed-length output of 128 bits. The input message is broken up into chunks of 512-bit blocks (sixteen 32-bit words); the message is padded so that its length is divisible by 512. The padding works as follows: first a single bit, 1, is appended to the end of the message. This is followed by as many zeros as are required to bring the length of the message up to 64 bits fewer than a multiple of 512. The remaining bits are filled up with 64 bits representing the length of the original message, modulo 264.

The main MD5 algorithm operates on a 128-bit state, divided into four 32-bit words, denoted A, B, C, and D. These are initialized to certain fixed constants. The main algorithm then uses each 512-bit message block in turn to modify the state. The processing of a message block consists of four similar stages, termed rounds; each round is composed of 16 similar operations based on a non-linear function F, modular addition, and left rotation. Figure 1 illustrates one operation within a round. There are four possible functions F; a different one is used in each round:

denote the XOR, AND, OR and NOT operations respectively.