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In a severe rebuke of one of the biggest suppliers of HTTPS credentials, Google Chrome developers announced plans to drastically restrict transport layer security certificates sold by Symantec-owned issuers following the discovery they have issued more than 30,000 certificates.
Effective immediately, Chrome plans to stop recognizing the extended validation status of all certificates issued by Symantec-owned certificate authorities, Ryan Sleevi, a software engineer on the Google Chrome team, said Thursday in an online forum.
Extended validation certificates are supposed to provide enhanced assurances of a site’s authenticity by showing the name of the validated domain name holder in the address bar. Under the move announced by Sleevi, Chrome will immediately stop displaying that information for a period of at least a year.
In effect, the certificates will be downgraded to less-secure domain-validated certificates.
More gradually, Google plans to update Chrome to effectively nullify all currently valid certificates issued by Symantec-owned CAs. With Symantec certificates representing more than 30 percent of the Internet’s valid certificates by volume in 2015, the move has the potential to prevent millions of Chrome users from being able to access large numbers of sites. What’s more, Sleevi cited Firefox data that showed Symantec-issued certificates are responsible for 42 percent of all certificate validations.
To minimize the chances of disruption, Chrome will stagger the mass nullification in a way that requires they be replaced over time.
To do this, Chrome will gradually decrease the “maximum age” of Symantec-issued certificates over a series of releases.
Chrome 59 will limit the expiration to no more than 33 months after they were issued.
By Chrome 64, validity would be limited to nine months.
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