Disable the Weak Ciphers – Apache/IIS


SSL Cipher is an encryption algorithm, which is used as a key between two computers over the Internet. Data encryption is the process of converting plain text into secret ciphered codes.

It’s based on your web server SSL Cipher configuration and strong protocol that allows data encryption to take place.

So it’s important to configure SSL Cipher and enable above TLS 1.1 & TLS 1.1, which is stronger and not vulnerable.


RC4 & MD5 cipher algorithms are considered vulnerable ciphers.

  • Go to conf folder of your web server (or) edit your virtual host file
  • Modify SSLCipherSuite  directive in httpd-ssl.conf as below to accept only higher encryption algorithms
  • Set your Protocols to accept only TLSV1.2 and TLSv1.1. If you could afford it you can remove the TLS1.1 as well and keep only TLSv1.2 ( By doing this you can disable the SSLV2, SSLv3)
SSLProtocol +TLSv1.1 +TLSv1.2

Save the configuration file and restart apache server

Note: if you have many weak ciphers in your SSL auditing report, you can quickly reject them adding ! at the beginning. of whatever the cipher name is specified

The “Sweet32” attack

There exists a long list of SSL/TLS ciphers that should be avoided for a proper HTTPS implementation. You can find a near-ideal config for high-security TLS 1.0/1.1/1.2 at cipherli.st. This will get you 90%+ of the way towards a well-configured setup.

However, neither the cipher suites specified at cipherli.st nor the Qualys SSL Test flags CBC-mode 3DES ciphers. These ciphers may be vulnerable to CVE-2016-2183, aka the “Sweet32” attack.

OpenVAS has only recently started flagging these ciphers. Blocking them is quite simple and will only affect the oldest of web browsers, which are inherently insecure without upgrading anyways. Triple DES is a relatively old cipher that has several vulnerabilities published in the last 18 years. Although it used to be a government standard for encryption, it should no longer be used.

Disabling all 3DES ciphers in nginx is easy. You can find where your ciphers are defined by running the following command (assuming your config files are in /etc/nginx/):

grep -r "ssl_ciphers" /etc/nginx/

Once you’ve found the file in question, make sure your cipher list contains ‘!3DES’. For example, as of November 2nd, 2016, this is the cipher list I have chosen to use.


Disabling 3DES ciphers in Apache is about as easy too. Find where your ciphers are defined with the following command (again, presuming your Apache config is in /etc/httpd/):

grep -r "SSLCipherSuite" /etc/httpd/

Once you’ve found the file containing your cipher suite, make sure it contains ‘!3DES’. As of today, this is a suitable list:


For both Apache and nginx, after changing your cipher suite, test your config (httpd -t or nginx -t) and restart the service in question.