News and tips from the industry leaders in email compliance.

Email marketers thrive on data. Campaign data to track the performance of a marketing initiative and determine its return on investment. Customer data that can be used to deliver more relevant and engaging messaging and target different audiences with different messages. We also use data for suppression purposes, to identify those we don’t want to include in a marketing campaign, either because they have opted out of receiving future campaigns or we want to limit certain customers’ exposure to specific offers. Beyond the world of email marketing, virtually every company is built on a foundation of customer and business data.

With data being such a vital component of marketing and overall business success, it is no wonder that companies go to great lengths to secure this valuable asset. We have also seen a similar focus on data security and privacy with regard to consumers’ personal data. This has led to the emergence of new consumer data privacy legislation in the U.S. and around the world. Today, companies need to not only focus on the security of their own business data, but also on the consumer data that they collect and store about their customers and prospects. With this being the case, many companies are taking advantage of more advanced data protection processes, like data encryption or hashing, especially when data needs to be provided to other companies as part of normal business operations – like marketing.

In email marketing, there are two common types of databases that hold consumer data – the Mailing List which includes email addresses of individuals that are sent email campaigns, and the Suppression File(s) of email addresses that are to be withheld from some or all email campaigns. Mailing lists are often stored with the email service provider (ESP) that the company uses to send email marketing campaigns. Opt-Out suppression files are also stored with the ESP, but when a company leverages marketing partners, affiliates, performance agencies, or other third parties to email on their behalf they need to have a solution for making the appropriate suppression files available to those outside partners. This is one of the major value propositions of OPTIZMO’s SUPPRESS platform. 

Since our founding in 2009, OPTIZMO has delivered an easy-to-use and secure platform where our clients can distribute or otherwise provide access to their suppression files for their various email marketing partners. As data security practices have evolved over the years, OPTIZMO has enhanced its platform, offering support for the latest and most robust data protection processes. For many years, this meant supporting our clients’ use of MD5 hashing, to secure their data. While many companies continue to use MD5, as was the industry standard for many years technology and encryption capabilities have evolved. Today, this means support for advanced data hashing options, like SHA-512, which is becoming much more commonly used in the industry. 

What Exactly is SHA-512?

SHA-512 (Secure Hash Algorithm 512) is the current industry standard for data security. SHA-512 is a cryptographic hash function with a 512-bit hash value. It is the highest level of data hashing readily available to the market today. SHA-512 is related to SHA-1 and SHA-256, with the difference being the hash value. A SHA-512 hash is typically expressed as a 128 digit hexadecimal number. This makes SHA-512 hashed files considerably larger than MD5 files. MD5 is an alpha-numeric hash that cannot be reverse engineered to show plain text email addresses.

What’s the difference between SHA-512 and MD5?

SHA-512 provides a more adequate cryptographically secure functionality than MD5. The SHA-512 checksum (512 bits) output is represented by 128 characters in hex format, while MD5 produces a 128-bit (16-byte) hash value, typically expressed in text format as a 32-digit hexadecimal number.

A growing number of OPTIZMO customers are leveraging SHA-512 to ensure their data is as secure as possible. As more advertisers and marketers shift toward this new industry data security standard, we will continue enhancing the OPTIZMO platform to offer even more functionality around SHA-512, making it as easy as possible for advertisers and marketers to leverage the most powerful processes for securing their data. 

If you have any questions about SHA-512 or anything around data hashing or data security, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at You can also learn more about how OPTIZMO ensures our clients’ data security in our Information Security section of our website. 

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