- This Standard specifies a Secure Hash Algorithm, SHA-1, for computing a condensed representation of a message or a data file. When a message of any length < 2**64 bits is input, the SHA-1 produces a 160-bit output called a message digest. The message digest can then be input to the Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) which generates or verifies the signature for the message. Signing the message digest rather than the message often improves the efficiency of the process because the message digest is usually much smaller in size than the message. The same hash algorithm must be used by the verifier of a digital signature as was used by the creator of the digital signature.