SHA-256 is a cryptographic hash function developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2001. Due to its high level of security and efficiency, it is one of the most widely used algorithms for securing data and verifying digital signatures. As a result, SHA-256 has been adopted by many organizations as their standard hashing algorithm, including central banks, financial institutions, government agencies, and software developers.

The primary purpose of SHA-256 is to generate a unique 256-bit message digest from an inputted string or file, which can be used for authentication purposes or data integrity checks.

The output generated by this process will always remain the same regardless of how often it’s applied, meaning if any part of the input changes even slightly, then so too will the output produced drastically change, making it virtually impossible to predict what it might be without knowing all parts involved in creating it initially.

This makes SHA-256 extremely secure compared to other hashing algorithms, such as MD5, which have become easily cracked over time due to their lack of complexity when attacked using brute-force methods.

Overall, while more advanced encryption techniques are available today than ever – such as elliptic curve cryptography – none offer the same level of assurance that comes with using SHA-256 encryption protocol, ensuring users who rely on its services stay safe online despite ever-changing cyber threats posed against them daily.