XGEN: FAQs on High and Low Encryption in Exchange Server

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Article ID: 197965 - View products that this article applies to.
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SUMMARY

This FAQ addresses the differences between high and low encryption, the types of encryption available in the various Microsoft messaging products, and other issues that are often asked regarding encryption in Microsoft messaging technologies.

If after reading this FAQ, you still have questions about encryption in Microsoft Messaging products, please visit our Web site at the following URL:
http://www.microsoft.com/security/default.mspx

MORE INFORMATION

Notes on Terminology

In this document, the term Microsoft Exchange Server program refers to the software that provides the messaging services on a Microsoft Exchange Server computer. It does not refer to client programs that allow users to access the messaging services running on the Microsoft Exchange Server computer.

The term Microsoft Exchange Server package refers to a collection of CDs that can be ordered by customers. Such a package might include a newly released version of Microsoft Exchange Server (such as version 5.5), or a service pack (such as Service Pack 1). The package may include other programs in addition to the Microsoft Exchange Server program, such as the Microsoft Outlook98 messaging and collaboration client, which themselves may be new or updated.

Questions and Answers

  • Q. Is the Microsoft Exchange Server program available in high and low encryption versions?
  • A. No. There is no separate high and low encryption code for the Microsoft Exchange Server program. Microsoft Exchange Server code is the same worldwide.
  • Q. Is the Microsoft Outlook 98 program available in high and low encryption versions?
  • A. Yes. The Outlook 98 messaging client does come in High and Low encryption versions.

    With Microsoft Exchange Server 4.0, 5.0, or 5.5, the high encryption version of the client software can encrypt mail using a 64-bit key. The low encryption version is restricted to a 40-bit key because of US export regulations. (The terms 40-bit and 64-bit refer to the strength of the encryption algorithms used by the Outlook client.)

    Starting with Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 1, Microsoft now includes Outlook 98 for Win32, where the high-encryption version is available with a 128-bit key for S/MIME. The low encryption version is still restricted to a 40-bit key.

    Microsoft Exchange Books Online provides information to help administrators select the most suitable encryption algorithms for their clients running Outlook.
  • Q. Can customers order the Microsoft Exchange Server program with 128-bit encryption?
  • A. No. The term 128-bit refers to the level of encryption provided by the underlying Microsoft Windows NT operating system. For more information about 128-bit encryption, refer to the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:
    176820 Differences Between 128-bit and 40-bit versions of SP3 and SP4
  • Q. Why does it seem that customers can order a high encryption version of the Exchange Server program, or service pack, from Microsoft?
  • A. This is a misconception. All SKUs of Microsoft Exchange Server include a client (Outlook) CD in the package. Because the Microsoft Outlook 98 client is available in high and low encryption versions, the Microsoft Exchange Server package (orderable SKU) is available in high and low encryption versions too. There are separate part numbers for high- encryption and low-encryption Microsoft Exchange Server packages. Customers who order a package will need to specify if they want a high or low encryption version.

    Remember, the designation high or low for the Microsoft Exchange Server package refers to the encryption level of the client bundled in the package, and not to any Microsoft Exchange Server program code or files.
  • Q. I am about to download an Exchange Server service pack from the Web, rather than ordering it. Is there anything I need to know about encryption in products downloaded from the Internet?
  • A. Starting with Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 1 (downloadable from ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/bussys/exchange/ exchange-public/fixes/Eng/Exchg5.5/SP1), the client and server portions of the service pack are packaged into separate download files.

    For Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 1, customers can individually download the following:

    • The Microsoft Exchange Server program update
    • The Windows 16-bit client update
    • The Microsoft Exchange client support files
    • Service Pack 1 for the Microsoft Exchange Macintosh client
    The client download available on the Web is the exportable, low encryption (40-bit) version. If customers want the high encryption version, they must order the high encryption Microsoft Exchange Server package (SKU #312-00943 CRYPTO), which includes the high encryption version of Outlook 98. Information on how to order Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 1 is available from the following URL:
    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/Search.aspx
    Because the Microsoft Exchange Server program contains no restricted encryption software, the version available on the Microsoft FTP site can be downloaded & installed on any Microsoft Exchange version 5.5 Server worldwide.
  • Q. What happens if I update the Microsoft Exchange Server program that was installed from a high encryption package using a CD included in a low encryption package, or using program files downloaded from Microsoft's FTP site?
  • A. Nothing. Encryption settings will remain the same, since there are no encryption-specific files in the Microsoft Exchange Server program.

    However, if you update a copy of Microsoft Outlook 98 that was installed from a high encryption package using a CD included in a low-encryption package, or using program files downloaded from Microsoft's FTP site, the encryption level will be downgraded to the lower encryption level.
  • Q. Where is the encryption actually performed?
  • A. An in-depth discussion of encryption is outside the scope of this document. However, in brief, encryption can be classified into two main areas: e-mail content encryption and network session packet encryption.

    E-mail content encryption is handled entirely by the e-mail client. Message text and attachments are encrypted by the sending client before the message is sent to the server. The message is decrypted locally by the receiving client after downloading it from the server. The strength of encryption used is dependent on the version of Outlook client software (low or high encryption). In order to encrypt mail using this method, the users must have public-private key pairs.

    In Microsoft Exchange 5.5 Service Pack 1, the Key Management Server service provides the following services:

    • Creates the public and private encryption keys (which use either the CAST-40, CAST-64, or DES encryption algorithms).
    • Maintains backups of the private encryption keys and public signing keys.
    • Generates temporary keys.
    • Maintains the original copy of the certificate revocation list
    • Issues certificates for certification authorities (CAs) in other organizations.
    The Microsoft Exchange Key Management Server service uses Microsoft Certificate Server to generate user certificates. Service Pack 1 is the first release in which Certificate Server can act as the certification authority for the organization. If you use only version 3 (V3) certificates in your organization, Key Management Server no longer acts as the certification authority. (For information about Microsoft Certificate Server, please see the documentation for Microsoft Internet Information Server version 4.0.)

    In addition to the CAST and DES encryption algorithms, administrators also have the option of allowing users to sign and encrypt their e-mail using S/MIME. In Microsoft Exchange 5.5 Service Pack 1, the algorithms available with S/MIME are RC2-40, RC2-64, or RC2-128. Administrators can view these options from the Algorithm tab on the Site Encryption Configuration properties page in the Configuration container for a site.

    Network session packet encryption is provided by the underlying Windows NT operating system. Microsoft Exchange Server makes use of this for RPC or SSL encryption. Note that when enabled, RPC and SSL encryption will encrypt any information within an RPC or SSL session; this type of encryption is not limited to Microsoft Exchange Server traffic. The strength of encryption available is dependent on the version of Windows NT on your server (low or high encryption).
  • Q. Where can I find more information about security and Microsoft products?
  • A. For more information about security and Microsoft products, please go to the following URL:
    http://www.microsoft.com/security/.
    The site provides white papers, links to key resources, information on specific security concerns, and more.
  • Q. What is the Security Notification Service?
  • A. The Microsoft Security Notification Service is a free e-mail-based "push" notification service that sends information and advisories about security in Microsoft products to our customers.

Properties

Article ID: 197965 - Last Review: February 21, 2014 - Revision: 3.4
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 Service Pack 1
  • Microsoft Outlook 97 Service Pack 1, when used with:
    • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
    • Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
    • Microsoft Windows 95
    • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
    • Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
    • Microsoft Windows 95
    • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
    • Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
    • Microsoft Windows 95
  • Microsoft Outlook 97 Standard Edition, when used with:
    • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
    • Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
    • Microsoft Windows 95
  • Microsoft Outlook 98 Standard Edition, when used with:
    • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
    • Microsoft Windows 98 Standard Edition
    • Microsoft Windows 95
Keywords: 
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