What is email hashing?


Email hashing is a new and upcoming tool which has a number of benefits which improves overall security of email databases. It encrypts email addresses as well as other kinds of data by transforming them into a fixed, one-way, 32-character string. The recipient then decrypts both the message and the hash, produces another hash from the received message, and compares the two hashes. If the two hashes are the same, the message was transmitted successfully. In a nutshell, this provides security in the following way:

  • For example, company A has a large email list of 10 000.
  • They are sending consumers email addresses within this list to another company (Company B) to test for duplicates (i.e. to discover which email addresses are on both lists).
  • Company A wants to send the list in a way that is easy for Company B to test for duplicates, but at the same time, it is ideally impossible for Company B to “decode” the email addresses which are NOT already on their list.
  • Company A also wants to ensure that if the list is (for some or other reason) sent or put in the wrong hands, it would be difficult for anyone else to learn what the actual email addresses are on the list.
  • Thus, email hashing is then put in place allowing for the above to be of certain.
  • Company B can then match their list with Company A’s list by means of their email hashes generated.

So, how do you ‘hash’ an email address? Well for starters, you are going to need the following:

1. An email address (such as info@techsys.co.za)
2. An MD5 hash algorithm application (these applications can be found for free – just search for this in your search engine)
3. Then submit your email address within the MD5 algorithm application. Once completed you will receive a one-way, unique 32-character string in return, for example: 43307bb5a669b247270a4d81cce6f3ff

Once the above has been completed, you can then do a number of things with this, see examples below:

1. Custom Audience Campaigns:

  • Facebook and Twitter have implemented the convenience of ‘custom audience’ targeting programs.
  • These are dependent upon email hashes for targeting, such as, when you log into Facebook or Twitter, you usually use an email address or mobile number to do so.
  • Marketers can load segments that contains hashed values (i.e. consumer lists), and when they match users, they can then bid for them and present a targeted add to them within their newsfeed

2. Email Ad Exchanges

  • By using the influence of an email hash, marketers can reach their consumers with a loyalty/personalised message.
  • This is completed by only targeting the hashes you want which reduces the number of ‘spam’ and increases the response rate received

As you can see, email hashing is a nifty tool which we believe will be employed more and more in the future in an effort to improve security and protect privacy of email databases.

Its unclear whether Jendi’s true love is peanut butter or skinny cappuccinos. But she’ll put both on hold for her clients. She forms part of the Project Management team, which is a good thing because her organisation skills are out of this world.

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