No Change to RC4 Grading in September

Ivan Ristic

Last updated on: September 6, 2020

Back in April we wrote about our plans for RC4 deprecation in SSL Labs. Our intention had been to deprecate RC4 in two steps, first in May and then again later in September. The initial change, which we carried out, was to cap site grades to C if they’re using RC4 with modern protocols (i.e., TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2). The cap for those who use RC4 only with TLS 1.0 and earlier protocol versions (i.e., old clients) remained at B. Additionally, to ensure that the grading algorithm can’t be played, we changed the penalty for not supporting TLS 1.2 from B to C. This meant that those who were using RC4 with modern clients couldn’t improve their grade by disabling TLS 1.2.

For the second phase, the plan was to give F to those sites that use RC4 with modern protocols. However, when we started implementing this behaviour we realised that this would created another loophole: sites who got an F because of RC4 would be able to turn off TLS 1.2 to improve their grade (and get a C instead). This time we are not able to close the loophole by increasing the penalty for not supporting TLS 1.2.

As a result, there will be no change to the RC4 grading in September. We’ll determine how else we can encourage the removal of RC4 and make further grading changes later. As this week we will start a public discussion of the next-generation SSL Labs grading criteria, it’s likely that the RC4 changes will be considered as part of that discussion. To participate, please join the ssllabs-discuss mailing list.

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