A Tool to Verify Digital Records, Even as Technology Shifts

January 27, 2009 | Source: New York Times

University of Washington scientists have developed the initial component of a public system for digitally preserving and authenticating first-hand accounts of war crimes, atrocities and genocide.

The solution is a publicly available digital fingerprint, known as a cryptographic hash mark, that will make it possible for anyone to determine that the documents are authentic and have not been tampered with.

At the heart of the system is an algorithm that is used to compute a 128-character number known as a cryptographic hash from the digital information in a particular document. Even the smallest change in the original document will result in a new hash value.