Microsoft announced this week plans to remove all Windows-related file downloads from the Microsoft Download Center that are cryptographically signed with the Secure Hash Algorithm 1 (SHA-1).
The files will be removed next Monday, on August 3, the company said on Tuesday.
The OS maker cited the security of the SHA-1 algorithm for the move.
“SHA-1 is a legacy cryptographic hash that many in the security community believe is no longer secure. Using the SHA-1 hashing algorithm in digital certificates could allow an attacker to spoof content, perform phishing attacks, or perform man-in-the-middle attacks,” it said.
SHA-1, broken since 2016
Most software companies have recently begun abandoning the SHA-1 algorithm after a team of academics broke the SHA-1 hashing function at a theoretical level in February 2016.
The algorithm was broken in a real-world practical attack in February 2017, when Google cryptographers disclosed SHAttered, a technique that could make two different files appear as they had the same SHA-1 file signature.
At the time, creating an SHA-1 collision was considered computationally expensive, and Google experts thought SHA-1 could still be used in practice for at least half a decade until the cost would go down.
Since 2016, software makers have abandoned SHA-1, mainly for SHA-2. Google removed SHA-1 support from Chrome with the release of Chrome 56, at the end of January 2017; Firefox removed SHA-1 support in Firefox 51, also released at the end of January 2017; and Microsoft dropped support for SHA-1 in Edge and Internet Explorer in mid-2017.
Microsoft, since August 2019, no longer uses SHA-1 to sign and authenticate Windows OS updates. Currently, Microsoft is in the process of replacing SHA-1 with SHA-2 across its products.
However, the OS maker didn’t specify if the Windows-related files that are being removed from its downloads center on Monday will be replaced with new download links signed with SHA-2, leaving many too wonder if they’ll ever be able to download some of Microsoft’s old tools.