Today, Microsoft is announcing the end-of-support of the RC4 cipher in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11. Starting in early 2016, the RC4 cipher will be disabled by-default and will not be used during TLS fallback negotiations.
There is consensus across the industry that RC4 is no longer cryptographically secure. Our announcement aligns with today’s announcements from Google and Mozilla, who are ending support for RC4 in Chrome and Firefox.
What is RC4?
RC4 is a stream cipher that was first described in 1987, and has been widely supported across web browsers and online services. Modern attacks have demonstrated that RC4 can be broken within hours or days. The typical attacks on RC4 exploit biases in the RC4 keystream to recover repeatedly encrypted plaintexts. In February 2015, these new attacks prompted the Internet Engineering Task Force to prohibit the use of RC4 with TLS.
Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer 11 only utilize RC4 during a fallback from TLS 1.2 or 1.1 to TLS 1.0. A fallback to TLS 1.0 with RC4 is most often the result of an innocent error, but this is indistinguishable from a man-in-the-middle attack. For this reason, RC4 will be entirely disabled by default for all Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer users on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 starting in early 2016.
How can I prepare?
We expect that most users will not notice this change. The percentage of insecure web services that support only RC4 is known to be small and shrinking.
If your web service relies on RC4, you will need to take action. Since 2013, Microsoft has recommended that customers enable TLS 1.2 in their services and remove support for RC4. For additional details, please see Security Advisory 2868725.
– Alec Oot, Program Manager, Customer Experience