Google joins Mozilla, Microsoft in pushing for early SHA-1 crypto cutoff

The browser makers are worried about research that shows SHA-1 is even weaker than previously believed

Google is considering banning certificates signed with the SHA-1 cryptographic function in Google Chrome starting Jul. 1. This follows similar announcements from Mozilla and Microsoft over the past two months.

The browser vendors had previously decided to stop trusting SHA-1-signed certificates presented by HTTPS websites on Jan. 1, 2017, a year after certificate authorities are supposed to stop issuing new ones.

However, due to recent research showing that SHA-1 is weaker than previously believed, Mozilla, Microsoft and now Google are all considering bringing the deadline forward by six months.

"In line with Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox, the target date for this step is January 1, 2017, but we are considering moving it earlier to July 1, 2016 in light of ongoing research," Google Chrome team members Lucas Garron and David Benjamin said Friday in a blog post. "We therefore urge sites to replace any remaining SHA-1 certificates as soon as possible."

Until then, starting with Chrome version 48, which is expected to land early next year, the browser will display errors if the certificates served by websites have SHA-1 signatures and were issued after Jan. 1, 2016. That's because public certificate authorities (CAs) are not supposed to issue new SHA-1-signed certificate after that date.

Later in the year, Chrome might be updated to apply the same treatment to website certificates that chain back to intermediary certificates signed with SHA-1.

Websites like Facebook and those protected by CloudFlare have implemented a SHA-1 fallback mechanism. Both companies have argued that there are millions of people in developing countries that still use browsers and operating systems that do not support SHA-2, the replacement function for SHA-1, and will therefore be cut off from encrypted websites that move to SHA-2 certificates.

The companies also want CAs to continue to issue SHA-1 certificates into 2016, but only to website owners that can prove that they serve SHA-2 certificates to modern browsers and fall back to SHA-1 only for older clients.

The advent of cheap cloud computing in recent years has signed the death warrant for SHA-1, a hashing algorithm that dates back to 1995 and is known to be vulnerable to computationally intensive collision attacks that could result in signature and therefore certificate forgery.

While the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has long mandated that federal agencies should move away from SHA-1, the SSL industry has lagged behind, to the point that in September almost one in three of the most popular 145,000 HTTPS-enabled websites were still using a SHA-1 certificate. The percentage is now around 15 percent.

Three years ago, researchers estimated that a practical attack against SHA-1 would cost $700,000 using commercial cloud computing services by 2015 and $173,000 by 2018.

However, in October, a group of researchers presented a new way to break SHA-1 that is expected to lower the cost of attacks more quickly than previously anticipated. It is this research that has browser makers worried and prompted them to consider an early cutoff date for SHA-1 certificates.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?