SHA-256 is a cryptographic hash function that was developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2001. It is one of the most widely used algorithms for securing data and verifying digital signatures, due to its high level of security and efficiency. SHA-256 has been adopted by many organizations as their standard hashing algorithm, including major 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 when compared with other hashing algorithms such as MD5 which have become easily cracked over time due to their lack complexity when being attacked using brute force methods

Overall, while there are more advanced encryption techniques available today than ever before – such as elliptic curve cryptography – none offer quite same level 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.

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