Preimage attack

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Faster preimage attacks can be found by cryptanalysing certain hash functions, and are specific to that function. Some significant preimage attacks have already been discovered, but they are not yet practical. If a practical preimage attack is discovered, it would drastically affect many Internet protocols. In this case, "practical" means that it could be executed by an attacker with a reasonable amount of resources. For example, a preimaging attack that costs trillions of dollars and takes decades to preimage one desired hash value or one message is not practical; one that costs a few thousand dollars and takes a few weeks might be very practical.

The computational infeasibility of a first preimage attack on an ideal hash function assumes that the set of possible hash inputs is too large for a brute force search. However if a given hash value is known to have been produced from a set of inputs that is relatively small or is ordered by likelihood in some way, then a brute force search may be effective. Practicality depends on the input set size and the speed or cost of computing the hash function.