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Wikipedia - SHA-2 says

SHA-224 is identical to SHA-256, except that:

  • the initial variable values h0 through h7 are different, and
  • the output is constructed by omitting h7.

RFC3874 - A 224-bit One-way Hash Function: SHA-224 says

The use of a different initial value ensures that a truncated SHA-256 message digest value cannot be mistaken for a SHA-224 message digest value computed on the same data.

My questions:

  1. Is the above quoted reason the only reason why SHA-224 and SHA-256 use different initial values?

  2. Why is it important to make sure that a SHA-256 message digest value cannot be mistaken for a SHA-224 message digest value?

  3. If we use the same initial values for both hash functions, will the security of either hash function worsen? If yes, how?

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    $\begingroup$ This is almost certainly a better fit on crypto.SE. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor Oct 2 '11 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ At least question 2 seems to be off-topic here. After all, it is related to how people use computers and what is convenient for them; not really a TCS question. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Oct 2 '11 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Related question on Crypto.SE: crypto.stackexchange.com/questions/3946/… $\endgroup$ – mikeazo May 14 '13 at 16:42
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  1. This We called Domain Separation, when we use same algorithm for different output size.
  2. Separation is necessary because if i found two messages which have hash value (SH256), differs only in last octet and then i can publish the hash value as first 7 octet showing i used SHA224. since i already have two messages colliding on SHA224 which i can use later for forgery attack. Using domain separation we can avoid such situation
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