The tag:mac seems to be used in many different contexts in ITSec

Since this has an overloaded meaning should we ban the creation of a new tag "MAC" (if possible) and create the tags MAC-Address and MAC-Hashcode ? (The MacOSX already exists)

2 Answers 2


I'm in favor of this. I might lean towards HMAC over MAC-Hashcode, though.

  • Agreed... but is there a way to make HMAC appear when a user types in "MAC"? Nov 28, 2012 at 3:28
  • 2
    I don't think it would popup HMAC, but I would support HMAC in favour of MAC-hashcode, as I had never heard of MAC Hashcode before (only ever known it as HMAC)
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Nov 28, 2012 at 8:55
  • 2
    HMAC is only one type of MAC algorithm; HMAC is a MAC which internally uses a hash function. Another widespread kind of MAC is CBC-MAC, built over a block cipher. There are various other proposals of MAC algorithms which are neither HMAC or CBC-MAC, too, but they are often integrated (e.g. GCM or EAX modes are encryption with a built-in MAC). Nov 29, 2012 at 2:14
  • I think using the tag "HMAC" to represent message authentication codes would make us look ignorant about cryptography. AES-CMAC is a message authentication code (MAC), but does not take the HMAC approach.
    – D.W.
    Dec 3, 2012 at 3:44
  • Surely, tag synonyms would solve the auto-suggestion problem.
    – Flimm
    Dec 8, 2012 at 20:37

If you want to create new tags, my suggestion would be to create a new tag for message authentication codes (including HMAC, AES-CMAC, and others).

I do not think it makes sense to create a tag called "HMAC" or "MAC-Hashcode". The correct name of the generic primitive is Message Authentication Code (MAC). HMAC is just one way to build a Message Authentication Code. Or, to put it another way: SHA1-HMAC is to Message Authentication Code as AES is to Block Cipher.

  • The tag "message-authentication-code" is above the 25 character maximum for SE. What would you suggest be the shorter alternative? Dec 2, 2012 at 15:20
  • perhaps MAC-algorithm? Dec 2, 2012 at 15:22
  • @makerofthings7, ahh, thanks, I didn't know about that limit. If it is over, then I recommend sticking with MAC. I don't think there's much danger of confusion between MAC ("message authentication code") and MAC (the link-layer address); we could set up a tag wiki to clarify that we mean the former.
    – D.W.
    Dec 3, 2012 at 3:43

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