Let's say I have a text file (crypto.txt). Let's assume the checksum function can be any type of function (MD5, SHA-1, anything else). Is there a way that the checksum value IN the file (crypto.txt contains a string that could be a possible checksum), when put through a checksum program, outputs the exact same value as the content inside the text file?

In case I lost you, here's a quick breakdown:

crypto.txt contains a viable checksum value (said value = x)
checksum of crypto.txt = x

Is this even possible? Is there math that proves it wrong/right?

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    $\begingroup$ Does your "checksum" have to be cryptographically secure? $\endgroup$
    – yyyyyyy
    Feb 27, 2017 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Crypto.SE, Pat! To clarify: MD5, SHA-1, and the lot are “cryptographically secure hashes”, not “checksums”. Which of the both do you mean? $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Feb 27, 2017 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ Relevant: Is it theoretically possible to construct a string that contains its own hash value? $\endgroup$
    – otus
    Feb 27, 2017 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ otus That answers my question, thanks! yyyyyyy It doesn't really matter to me. And e-sushi, thanks for the welcome! I meant checksums, but as you may be able to tell, I'm not well educated in this, so my apologies. $\endgroup$
    – Pat
    Feb 28, 2017 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


For a checksum such as CRC16 or CRC32 it is very much possible to have a value over a text that contains the same CRC value (in whatever format, be it binary, hexadecimals or base 64). The proof of this is simple: you can simply put e.g. 32-48 bits counter at the end of the text and wait until you find a CRC. But in practice you can just calculate the value you need to prefix, append or anything in between and get the right CRC - if it is included or not. Checksums such as CRC are not secure.

For secure hash functions this is not possible. It is even computationally not possible to find any message $m$ where the hash value is $h$, for any chosen $h$ (that is not a known hash value). This is a much stronger presumption than the one you are proposing. It is not possible to find $x = \operatorname{H}(a | \operatorname{encode}(x) | b)$ even if you can chose any special value of $a$ and $b$, and any $\operatorname{encode}$ operation.

It is not possible to prove above completely for the simple fact that the security of hash functions cannot be proven. SHA-1 was thought to be secure for a long time, but by now it might be possible to create a text where the hash value is included.


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