SHA-1 Certificates Blocked By Authenticode

Twitter started to light up a bit tonight with folks who are having problems with signatures; both third-party ISVs:

Twitter post about bad signature

Signature is invalid or corrupt
The signature is corrupt or invalid.

… and even Microsoft’s own SysInternals utilities show1 an error:

Twitter complaint about bad signature

Signature is invalid or corrupt

Developers are surprised to see their workflow suddenly broken and wonder why.

The problem is outlined here – the tl;dr is that you must use a SHA256-signed certificate when codesigning any file after January 1st, 2016. If you failed to timestamp your file when you signed it, the date of signature cannot be determined and today’s date is used.

Confusingly, if you examine the File Properties in Windows Explorer, it will say that the signature is OK:

Explorer UI shows OK
This digital signature is OK. But not really.

To see the problem, you must dig into the certificate details:

SHA1 certificates
SHA1-signed Certificates

To fix this problem, you must

  1. Replace your code-signing certificate with a SHA256-signed certificate. Your CA should be willing to do this for free; if they aren’t, a little public shaming on Twitter will probably change their mind. Note: The entire certificate chain (except the root) must be SHA256, not just your certificate.
  2. Re-sign your files with the new certificate
  3. Accept that Windows XP SP2 and earlier don’t understand SHA256 certificates and will treat the file as unsigned. This is fine; XP SP3 resolved that limitation and users on XP have much worse problems to worry about anyway.

After you upgrade to the proper certificate, you should look into dual-signing your binaries so that the Authenticode signature itself contains both SHA1 and SHA256 signatures; this isn’t strictly required yet, but may be in the future. You should also follow other best-practices, including time-stamping and using a hardware token.

Stay secure out there!

-Eric Lawrence
1 At first, when I tried this using the SysInternals site, I didn’t see any complaints about the signature. That’s because the site sends its binaries inside a .ZIP file. I’m using 7-Zip, which has a significant security bug– it fails to propagate the Mark-of-the-Web from a .ZIP to the files extracted from a ZIP file; as a consequence, Windows and SmartScreen won’t recognize that the files are from the Internet. If you’re not using Explorer’s built-in ZIP engine (which propagates MOTW properly) you can download executables directly from to see the SHA1 problem.

Published by ericlaw

Impatient optimist. Dad. Author/speaker. Created Fiddler & SlickRun. PM @ Microsoft 2001-2012, and 2018-2022, working on Office, IE, and Edge. Now a SWE on Microsoft Defender Web Protection. My words are my own, I do not speak for any other entity.

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