Optimize SSL settings in Windows Server 2008

Optimize SSL settings in Windows Server 2008

SSL labs provides, through it’s website, a thorough free testing of an https enabled site. It has different rankings based on the (American) school grading system, where F is the lowest score and A++ the highest.

Numerical Score Grade
score >= 80 A
score >= 65 B
score >= 50 C
score >= 35 D
score >= 20 E
score < 20 F


In this post I will try and go through the steps to achieve an “A” rating for your website.

First you need to get a certificate from your CA (Certificate Authority) that uses the sha256 hashing algorithm. I explained how to create a CSR (certificate signing request) in one of my previous posts.

Next steps will involve changing and creating some registry keys, and rebooting the server (it’s the only way to enable the changes).

Start regedit.

Security providers

In this step we’ll disable some old (buggy) protocols and hashing algorithms. Start by navigating to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers

Disable old Ciphers, by creating a key / folder with the cipher name and the a “DWORD” called “Enabled” with 0 as it’s value:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\DES 56/56]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\RC2 128/128]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\RC2 40/128]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\RC2 56/128]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\RC4 128/128]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\RC4 40/128]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\RC4 56/128]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\RC4 64/128]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Ciphers\Triple DES 168/168]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

Next disable MD5 hashing algorithm, navigating to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Hashes
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Hashes\MD5]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

Next step the protocols. We want to disable all SSL protocols (they are superseded by TLS), navigating to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0\Client]
"DisabledByDefault"=dword:00000001

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 2.0\Server]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 3.0]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 3.0\Client]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\SSL 3.0\Server]
"Enabled"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.0]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.0\Server]
"Enabled"=dword:00000001
"DisabledByDefault"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.1]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.1\Client]
"Enabled"=dword:00000001
"DisabledByDefault"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.1\Server]
"Enabled"=dword:00000001
"DisabledByDefault"=dword:00000000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2\Client]
"DisabledByDefault"=dword:00000000
"Enabled"=dword:00000001

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\SecurityProviders\SCHANNEL\Protocols\TLS 1.2\Server]
"Enabled"=dword:00000001
"DisabledByDefault"=dword:00000000

You will end up with something looking like this:

ssl-security-providers

Order available Ciphers

We will specify the order of available ciphers and put the strong ones first in line. Start by navigating to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Cryptography\Configuration\SSL\00010002

And add a string called “Functions” if it does not exist, containing:

TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384_P521,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384_P384,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384_P256,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA_P521,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA_P384,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA_P256,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256_P521,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA_P521,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256_P384,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256_P256,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA_P384,TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA_P256,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384_P521,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384_P384,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256_P521,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256_P384,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256_P256,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384_P521,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA384_P384,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA_P521,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA_P384,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA_P256,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256_P521,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256_P384,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256_P256,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA_P521,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA_P384,TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA_P256,TLS_DHE_DSS_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA256,TLS_DHE_DSS_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA,TLS_DHE_DSS_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256,TLS_DHE_DSS_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA,TLS_DHE_DSS_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA,TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA256,TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA,TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256,TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA,TLS_RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA

You will end up with something looking like this:

ssl-ciphers

Reboot the server and test your site. If it gives you an error double check the registry and your certificate. If it still doesn’t work, undo your changes one by one. You shouldn’t have to but I found it is a rather trial and error process. I recommend you don’t try this on a production server until you fully test everything (and every browser).

Some useful links that helped me:

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