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SHA-256, which stands for Secure Hash Algorithm 256-bit, is a cryptographic hash function commonly used in various applications for data integrity and security. It takes an input message and generates a fixed-length 256-bit hash value. SHA-256 is designed to be a one-way function, meaning that it's computationally infeasible to reverse the process and retrieve the original input from the hash output. This property, along with its ability to produce unique hash values for different inputs, makes SHA-256 a foundational component in blockchain technology, digital signatures, password hashing, and other cryptographic applications, where data security and non-repudiation are crucial.