The SHA hash functions are a set of cryptographic hash functions designed by the National Security Agency (NSA) and published by the NIST as a U.S. Federal Information Processing Standard. SHA stands for Secure Hash Algorithm. The three SHA algorithms are structured differently and are distinguished as SHA-0, SHA-1, and SHA-2. The SHA-2 family uses an identical algorithm with a variable digest size which is distinguished as SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, and SHA-512.
SHA-1 is the best established of the existing SHA hash functions, and is employed in several widely used security applications and protocols. In 2005, security flaws were identified in SHA-1, namely that a possible mathematical weakness might exist, indicating that a stronger hash function would be desirable. Although no attacks have yet been reported on the SHA-2 variants, they are algorithmically similar to SHA-1 and so efforts are underway to develop improved alternatives. A new hash standard, SHA-3, is currently under development — the function will be selected via an open competition running between fall 2008 and 2012. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA_hash_functions)