Threat Level: green Handler on Duty: Xavier Mertens

SANS ISC: StartSSL: Termination of Services is Now Scheduled - SANS Internet Storm Center SANS ISC InfoSec Forums


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StartSSL: Termination of Services is Now Scheduled

StartCom[1] has been a key player for years in the landscape of SSL certificate providers with its 'StartSSL' services. They provided free SSL certificates for everybody and permitted a lot of small organizations to increase the security of their web communications. The fact that StartCom is a China-based company was, for some organizations, a good reason to flag their activities as suspicious. They also suffered from security incidents[2]. In October 2016, Mozilla decided[3] to remove the StartCom certificates from Firefox. Google did the same with Chrome in March 2017[4].

The termination of services is now officially scheduled (for the 1st of January 2018). Here is the official message sent to customers:

Dear customer,

As you are surely aware, the browser makers distrusted StartCom around a
year ago and therefore all the end entity certificates newly issued by
StartCom are not trusted by default in browsers.

The browsers imposed some conditions in order for the certificates to be
re-accepted. While StartCom believes that these conditions have been met, it
appears there are still certain difficulties forthcoming. Considering this
situation, the owners of StartCom have decided to terminate the company as a
Certification Authority as mentioned in Startcom´s website.

StartCom will stop issuing new certificates starting from January 1st, 2018
and will provide only CRL and OCSP services for two more years.

StartCom would like to thank you for your support during this difficult
time.

StartCom is contacting some other CAs to provide you with the certificates
needed. In case you don´t want us to provide you an alternative, please,
contact us at certmaster@startcomca.com

Please let us know if you need any further assistance with the transition
process. We deeply apologize for any inconveniences that this may cause.

Best regards,

StartCom Certification Authority

I searched across my SSL activity logs and I found 5 websites still using a StartSSL certificate. If you're still using StartSSL certificates for some websites, it's time to move to an alternative provider. We highly recommend having a look at the Let's Encrypt project[5].

[1] https://www.startcomca.com/
[2] https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/StartSSL+a+web+authentication+authority+suspend+services+after+a+security+breach/11071
[3] https://blog.mozilla.org/security/2016/10/24/distrusting-new-wosign-and-startcom-certificates/
[4] https://security.googleblog.com/2016/10/distrusting-wosign-and-startcom.html
[5] https://letsencrypt.org/

Xavier Mertens (@xme)
ISC Handler - Freelance Security Consultant
PGP Key

Xme

337 Posts
ISC Handler
That email is hilarious.

>Considering this situation, the owners of StartCom have decided to terminate the company as a
Certification Authority

"the owners of StartCom have decided" no everybody else decided, you had no say in it.

And look at this

>StartCom is contacting some other CAs to provide you with the certificates needed

Oh great, they're going to put my email address on sixteen other spam lists. Thanks, StartCom.

This is a good thing, the company should have been dead a year ago. These are the same people (under the name WoSign) that gave out github.com certs to anyone who asked, claimed they had "fixed the issue" four months later, and actually had just added "github.com" to a blacklist without fixing the underlying tech issue.
Anonymous

Posts

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