Microsoft revokes trust in certificate authority operated by the Indian government

A security breach at India's National Informatics Centre resulted in at least 45 rogue digital certificates for Google and Yahoo domains

Microsoft updated the Certificate Trust List in Windows to revoke trust for a certificate authority operated by the Indian government after it improperly issued at least 45 SSL certificates for domains owned by Google and Yahoo.

"These SSL certificates could be used to spoof content, perform phishing attacks, or perform man-in-the-middle attacks against web properties," Microsoft said Thursday in a security advisory.

The security incident came into the public spotlight Tuesday when security engineers from Google revealed that on July 2 they identified several certificates for Google domains that had been issued without authorization by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), a branch of the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

As part of its mandate to develop and host official government websites, the NIC operated a digital certificate authority (CA) that was subordinated to the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA), the Indian government's primary CA.

India's CCA is included in Microsoft's Trusted Root Certification Authorities Store, which means that any SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates issued by itself or its subordinates -- like the NIC -- are trusted by default by many Windows programs, including the Google Chrome and Internet Explorer Web browsers.

An investigation by India's CCA concluded that the NIC's digital certificate issuance process was compromised, resulting in four SSL certificates being improperly issued for Google and Yahoo domains, Google reported Wednesday. However, the company is aware of more than four rogue certificates signed by the NIC, suggesting that the true scope of the breach is unknown.

India CCA and the NIC did not respond to requests sent Thursday for more information about the security breach, but Microsoft's advisory sheds a bit more light on what happened.

According to the company, the NIC improperly issued a subordinate CA certificate and that certificate was then misused to issue SSL certificates for multiple Google and Yahoo sites.

It's not clear to whom and under what circumstances the NIC issued the powerful subordinate CA certificate. Microsoft warns that "the subordinate CA certificate may also have been used to issue certificates for other, currently unknown sites," exposing their users to possible attacks.

The Microsoft update blacklists the NIC's CA certificates, essentially revoking trust in all SSL certificates the NIC has ever issued, including legitimate ones used on some Indian government websites.

The Certificate Trust List (CTL) will be updated automatically on systems running Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows RT, Windows RT 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, as well as on devices running Windows Phone 8 or Windows Phone 8.1.

Systems running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 need to have installed an older update called KB2677070 in order to receive automatic updates for revoked certificates.

There is currently no CTL update available for Windows Server 2003 that resolves this issue, but Microsoft plans to release one at a later time.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags online safetyGoogleMicrosoftsecurityNational Informatics CentreencryptionController of Certifying AuthoritiespkiCompliance monitoringYahoo

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?