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Google announces deployment of 2048-bit SSL certificates

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Microsoft to revoke certificates with fewer than 1024 bits
Microsoft to revoke certificates with fewer than 1024 bits

Google has announced that it is to strengthen its SSL certificates, implementing 2048-bit certificates.

According to a blog post by Google director of information security engineering Stephen McHenry, the updates will be completed by the end of this year, with the new 2048-bit certificates implemented on 1st August to ensure adequate roll-out time. McHenry also said that Google will change the root certificate that signs all of its SSL certificates, as this has a 1024-bit key.

He said: “Most client software won't have any problems with either of these changes, but we know that some configurations will require some extra steps to avoid complications. This is more often true of client software embedded in devices such as certain types of phones, printers, set-top boxes, gaming consoles and cameras.”

McHenry said that client software that makes SSL connections to Google must: perform normal validation of the certificate chain; include a properly extensive set of root certificates contained; and support Subject Alternative Names (SANs).

He also recommended clients support the Server Name Indication (SNI) extension because clients may need to make an extra API call to set the hostname on an SSL connection.

Commenting, security researcher Troy Hunt said: “This looks like just an organic part of on-going efforts to strengthen their implementation, I'm sure we'll see the same thing again in a few years and they do point out ways to ensure future transitions are smooth.

“Interesting point on SNI SSL, which is not supported by Internet Explorer on Windows XP, don't know if it means those clients will be excluded and will fall back to an alternate implementation.”

Last summer, Microsoft also announced that it would be rejecting any certificates which were shorter than 1024 bits, even if they were currently valid and signed by a trusted certificate authority.

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