The big picture: Keep in mind that extended support for Windows 7 ends on January 14, 2020. Even if you do opt for the upcoming SHA-2 update, you've got less than a year of guaranteed security updates coming. Tick tock.
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 users will want to circle March 12, 2019, on their calendars as that date will be crucial should you want to continue receiving security updates from Microsoft.
In a recent update to its support article on the matter, Microsoft outlined an important change coming to the aforementioned legacy operating systems.
Microsoft has used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash algorithms to sign operating system updates as a way to verify their authenticity and ensure they weren’t tampered with during delivery. Over the years, however, as weaknesses have surfaced, processor performance has increased and cloud computing has taken off, SHA-1 has become less secure.
As such, Microsoft will be migrating from SHA-1 to SHA-2 support later this year. The standalone update to enable SHA-2 support on Windows 7 and Windows Server goes live on March 12, 2019.
You’ll still have a few months – until July 16, 2019 – to install the update. After that date, if you don’t have the requisite SHA-2 update installed, you’ll no longer be able to receive Windows security updates.
The full timeline for migrating to SHA-2 can be found in Microsoft’s support article.
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