Google published a timeline recently on the Google Security blog which highlights the timeline for dropping support for Symantec-issued certificates in Chrome.
The company plans to drop full support in Chrome 70, but will distrust certificates that were issued before June 1, 2016 as early as March 15, 2018 (Chrome 66).
The core of the issue surrounding Symantec certificates — the business operates under brand names such as VeriSign, Thawte, Equifac, RapidSSL or GeoTrust — is that Symantec “entrusted several organizations with the ability to issue certificates without the appropriate or necessary oversight” according to Google.
Symantec was aware of these security deficiencies, and incidents in the past showed just how bad it was. In 2015 for instance, certificates were created covering five organizations including Google and Opera without the knowledge of the organizations involved.
Symantec came to an agreement with DigiCert under which DigiCert will acquire Symantec’s website security and PKI solutions business.
Google plans to remove trust from all Symantec-issued certificates in Chrome in the coming year. The company published a timeline that highlights the most important dates of the process.
- October 24, 2017 — Chrome 62 Stable — Chrome highlights if a certificate of a site will be distrusted when Chrome 66 gets released.
- December 1, 2017 — DigiCert’s new infrastructure will be “capable of full issuance”. Certificates issued by Symantec’s old infrastructure from this point forward will cease working in future updates. This won’t affect certificates issued by DigiCert.
- March 15, 2018 — Chrome 66 Beta — Any Symantec issued certificate before June 1, 2016 is distrusted. Sites won’t load but throw a certificate alert instead.
- September 13, 2018 — Chrome 70 Beta — Trust in Symantec’s old infrastructure is dropped entirely in Google Chrome. This won’t affect DigiCert issued certificates, but will block any site that uses old certificates.
Chrome users cannot really do anything about this, as website operators need to switch to a certificate that is still trusted by Google as early as March 14, 2018. The only option that users of the browser have is to let website operators know about certificate issues should they not be aware of this.
Mozilla will match the dates proposed by Google earlier according to a post by Gervase Markham on the Mozilla Dev Security Policy group.
Webmasters who run sites with Symantec certificates need to add new certificates to their web properties before the deadline to ensure continued access to those properties. One option that webmasters have is to use Lets Encrypt which offers free and automated certificates.