Windows OS About To Stop Support For RSA Keys Under 1024 Bits

Published on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 in , , , , , , ,

One of my colleagues was having troubles accessing an HTTPS site. The site is secured with a certificate coming from an Active Directory Certificate Authority. Now I know of a bug where if you have a pinned website on your taskbar, and from that browser instance you open an HTTPS site with an untrusted certificate, there’s no "continue anyway” button…

Now this wasn’t the case today. He had the “continue anyway” option, where you typically click on, load the site and check the certificate. However, after clicking, it didn’t go trough, it just remained at the same page. We installed the root CA manually in the trusted root authorities, but still no improvements. When verifying the root certificate in the MMC we also saw it mentioned that the digital signature was invalid.. odd!

Using that as a query for google we quickly came across this:

If you read those first two carefully you’ll see the update will be released as a critical non-security update on august 14th for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2.

An example of a bad certificate:


Now how come he was having this issue now already?! Ahah, now comes the clue! He was using Windows 8! Now I am too, and I’m not having that problem with that specific site, but here’s the difference:

  • Windows 8 with issue: Windows 8 Release Preview: build 8400
  • Windows 8 without issue: Windows 8 Consumer Preview: build 8250

So it seems they’ve included this update somewhere in the build process of Windows 8.

Having certificates with an RSA key < 1024 is probably not really the case for most of us, but be sure to double check those certificates and their (intermediate) roots! Especially for those customer facing sites where you can’t control what updates hit the clients and thus potentially might be denied access to your sites.

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