How secure is 256 bit security?
How hard is it to find a 256-bit hash just by guessing and checking?
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Several people have commented about how 2^256 would be the maximum number of attempts, not the average. This depends on the thing being attempted. If it's guessing a private key, you are correct, but for something like guessing which input to a hash function gives the desired output (as in bitcoin mining, for example), which is the kind of thing I had in mind here, 2^256 would indeed be the average number of attempts needed, at least for a true cryptographic hash function. Think of rolling a die until you get a 6, how many rolls do you need to make, on average?
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