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Soon to be Deprecated – Are you still using RSA 1024 Bit Keys for Windows?

Microsoft has announced that it will depreciate Windows RSA keys shorter than 2048 bits. This step encourages organizations to avoid weaker algorithms and adopt stronger ones for server authentication.

Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) keys are cryptographic keys used in the RSA encryption algorithm. RSA utilizes public and private keys to encrypt data for secure communication across enterprise networks. In Windows, RSA keys serve various purposes, including server authentication, data encryption, and ensuring communication and software update integrity.

Microsoft noted that RSA encryption has encountered challenges due to recent advancements in quantum computing and other cryptographic techniques. Consequently, many organizations are transitioning to more secure encryption methods to mitigate risks associated with RSA vulnerabilities.

Microsoft has not provided an ETA for when the Windows RSA keys deprecation process will begin. However, this change will likely affect organizations that use legacy software and network-attached devices that use 1024-bit RSA keys.

Why is this change better for all?

In 2013, internet standards and regulatory bodies prohibited using 1024-bit keys, recommending RSA keys with a length of 2048 bits or longer,” Microsoft explained, “This deprecation aims to ensure that all RSA certificates used for TLS server authentication must have key lengths greater than or equal to 2048 bits to be deemed valid by Windows.”

Microsoft is adopting a more resilient security ecosystem by mandating stronger encryption methods, such as RSA keys with 2048 bits or longer lengths. This change ensures that data transmission and authentication processes remain robust and resistant to evolving threats.

The deprecation of RSA 1024-bit keys represents a proactive measure to safeguard digital assets, protect sensitive information, and uphold the trust and reliability of digital communication channels. It aligns with industry best practices and regulatory standards, contributing to a safer and more secure online environment for all users.

According to Encryption Consulting’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Puneet Singh, “Microsoft’s decision to deprecate RSA 1024 keys is crucial to strengthening the organization’s cybersecurity posture. This proactive step will help reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen the resilience of systems against cyber-attacks for our customers.”

How can you ensure that your organization isn’t caught off guard by Microsoft’s deprecation of 1024-bit RSA keys?

  • Inventory creation

    Develop an all-inclusive inventory of your cryptographic keys. Identify any RSA keys with lengths of 1024 bits and assess the usage and significance within your systems. For an enterprise-level organization, opting for an automated method may be the only effective approach.

    Automation tools for certificate lifecycle management (CLM), such as CertSecure Manager, can play a big role in transitioning away from 1024-bit keys. By leveraging CertSecure Manager, organizations can significantly reduce the manual effort and potential errors associated with certificate management.

    Our CLM solution can continuously monitor certificate inventories, detect deprecated keys, and trigger alerts or remediation actions as needed. CertSecure Manger also has a key feature that lets users renew certificates with just one click when certificates are about to expire.

  • Upgrade the deprecated keys

    Work closely with the IT and security team to develop a plan of action and allocate resources to execute the plan successfully.

  • Testing and coordination

    Careful coordination and testing are required of the upgrade plan to minimize the disruption of your organization’s operations.

How can Encryption Consulting’s CertSecure Manager help you stay up to date?

Encryption Consulting’s CertSecure Manager effortlessly manages and secures your digital certificates, ensuring that your organization’s sensitive information remains protected while complying with regulatory standards.

  • Inventory

    The inventory system is a centralized location for managing digital certificates from public authorities such as DigiCert and Sectigo and private trust CAs like Microsoft PKI. It enables effective management of all digital certificates in one place.

  • Reports

    Intelligent data is generated based on the inventory, with reports such as an inventory report, an expiration report (listing certificates expiring soon), and a key length report (highlighting any certificates that use weaker cryptography keys).

  • Certificate Enrollment

    The system provides a web interface and APIs to request new certificates from registered CAs, creating a more controlled certificate enrollment environment with approvals-based enrollment.

  • Automation

    The system enables automated deployment of new certificates onto web servers such as IIS, Apache, and Tomcat, as well as load balancers like F5, to minimize downtime and prevent outages.

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft is discontinuing Windows RSA keys shorter than 2048 bits to encourage the adoption of more robust encryption techniques for server authentication. 
  • Since 2013, internet standards and regulatory bodies have prohibited using 1024-bit keys, recommending 2048 bits or longer RSA keys. 
  • Microsoft warns that organizations using legacy software and devices with 1024-bit RSA keys may face disruptions due to this change.
  • Encryption Consulting can help organizations stay updated with the new requirements and best practices.

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About the Author

Parnashree Saha is a cybersecurity professional passionate about data protection, including PKI, data encryption, key management, IAM, etc. She is currently working as an advisory services manager at Encryption Consulting LLC. With a specialized focus on public key infrastructure, data encryption, and key management, she is vital in guiding organizations toward robust encryption solutions tailored to customers' unique needs and challenges. Parnashree leverages her expertise to provide clients comprehensive advisory services to enhance their cybersecurity posture. From conducting thorough assessments to developing customized encryption strategies and implementing relevant data protection solutions, She is dedicated to assisting organizations in protecting their sensitive data from evolving threats.

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