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Cryptographic Improvements in Microsoft Windows and deprecating hashing algorithms such as MD5

TechNet Blogs  >  Security Research & Defense   >  Cryptographic Improvements in Microsoft Windows


swiat 13 Aug 2013 8:22 AM


You might remember that in June 2013 we released Security Advisory 2854544 announcing additional options for enterprise customers to manage their digital certificate handling configuration on the Windows platform. The particular functionality announced in Security Advisory 2854544 was first built into Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and Windows RT and then back-ported to other operating systems. At the time, we also announced our plan to release additional updates to this advisory – all aimed at bolstering Windows cryptography and certificate-handling infrastructure. These efforts are not in response to any specific incident, but rather just the continuing evolution of how he handle digital certificate to ensure the safest possible computing environment for our customers.

What’s New Today?

Today, we have released the next in that planned set of advisories. Security Advisory 2862973 announces the immediate availability of an update to restrict the use of the MD5 hashing algorithm in digital certificates that are a part of the Microsoft Root Program. We plan to release this update broadly through Windows Update on February 11, 2014 after customers have a chance to assess the impact of this update and take necessary actions in their enterprise. It is available today on the Microsoft Download Center.

This MD5 update is enabled by a new framework for management of cryptography, described briefly below and in more detail on Microsoft Technet. These updates are meant to enhance customer privacy and security. Strong cryptography improves the functionality of signing features which allow users to validate the source and trustworthiness of content. It also improves the functionality of the underlying cryptography algorithms, increasing the cost of attacker efforts to perform content spoofing, man-in-the-middle (MiTM), and phishing attacks.

We’ll look at the new cryptographic framework update first. It provides a number of features Administrators can use to monitor and deprecate weak cryptography. The features introduced focus on increasing the strength of asymmetric cryptography as used in the platform and deprecating hashing algorithms such as MD5.

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