A checksum is small code of computed information that deals with data integrity and security. It is vital for huge data files (in gigabytes) being downloaded from any online site. It checks whether the downloaded file is missing any bytes and is downloaded correctly. The checksum value changes even if there is a small change in the downloaded file or data.

Working process of a simple checksum

workflow of checksum

Importance of checksum for data integrity 

Let’s say you’re downloading a huge file or large amount of data, say a service pack or a product. Once this huge file, usually in gigabytes, is downloaded, how do you know if the file has been downloaded correctly or if there are any bytes or pieces of data missing? Applying updates or working with an incompletely downloaded product will create huge problems that often lead to crashes.

Now, if a website provides a checksum value alongside the download, you can compare the value with the downloaded file to check its integrity. This way you will know if any piece of data or bytes has gone missing. If the value doesn’t match, then it means the file is not genuine or contains malicious data.

This ensures both data integrity and security, because you will always know if files or data are genuine or if there is something malicious that has replaced original, genuine data. Using checksum values, you can keep your organization safe and secure from hackers trying to take control of your workplace through malicious files and bugs.

Common issues from not using checksum values 

  • Data insecurity
  • Data loss or leakage
  • Malicious files or data in place of original data
  • Incomplete downloads of huge files

High-security checksum algorithms 

  • SHA-2 (224, 256, 384, and 512): This family of hash functions relies on sounds and numbers to create a checksum value. The resultant checksums are vulnerable to length extension attacks, which involve a hacker reconstructing the internal state of a file by learning its hash digest.
  • MD5: This hash function creates a checksum value, but each file will not necessarily have a unique number, so it is open to vulnerabilities if a hacker swaps out a file with the same checksum value.

How to compute checksum values to maintain security 

The checksum is computed using checksum calculators. These checksum calculators are tools with which you can compare the values to determine whether a file is authentic or not. Some of the commonly used tools include:

  • Microsoft File Checksum Integrity Verifier
  • Certutil, Windows’ built-in program
  • IgorWare Hasher

How ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager utilizes checksum values

ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager is a network configuration and change management automation tool that supports multiple vendors. Here, we provide SHA 256 values alongside our product download for BIN files. We also provide a checksum value for DAT files downloaded during firmware vulnerability database sync. This is how we make sure our product reaches you in the exact condition it’s meant to.

We have three editions:

  • Professional
  • Enterprise
  • Free Edition

In the Professional edition and Free Edition, we provide SHA-256 values for the 64-bit BIN download file.

For the Enterprise edition, we offer central and probe setups. We provide SHA-256 values for both central and probe setups.

To try out this feature- and security-rich product, download it now to enjoy a free, 30-day trial.

You can also get a price quote according to your organizational need or requirements.

To have a deep insight about the working of the product, you can try our free online demo.