To help provide additional protection from potential malware attacks, Microsoft recommends using HTTPS with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).
In this post, we will walk you through the steps required to configure each of your WSUS servers to use HTTPS. We will then share details on how to obtain and bind the necessary certificate, enforce Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption, and configure WSUS to use HTTPS. From there, we will discuss how to configure clients to use HTTPS and how to configure WSUS to use HTTPS for synchronization for downstream servers only. We will conclude with a recommended configuration order. These steps are critical in keeping the clients within your organization more secure and we hope you will find this post helpful.
At a time when malware attacks are on the rise across industries, configuring WSUS with HTTPS may further reduce the ability of a potential attacker to remotely compromise a client and elevate privileges. To ensure that the best security protocols are in place, we recommend that you use the SSL/TLS protocol to help secure your WSUS infrastructure. Windows Server Update Services uses SSL/TLS to authenticate client computers and downstream WSUS servers to the upstream WSUS server. WSUS also uses SSL/TLS to encrypt update metadata.
Note: Securing your server with TLS may result in a slight loss in performance.
To configure WSUS to use HTTPS, you will need to:
If you have downstream WSUS servers, you will need to complete an additional step. Please reference configure downstream WSUS servers to use HTTPS when syncing. (Use SSL when synchronizing update information.)
Important: Follow the WSUS best practices for disabling recycling and configuring memory limits prior to configuring WSUS to use HTTPS.
There are a few methods available to obtain a certificate for use with Internet Information Services (IIS). For example, you can create a certificate request and send that request to a known certificate authority (CA), such as Verisign or GeoTrust, or obtain a certificate from an online CA in your intranet domain. If you are using an online CA in your intranet domain, you can follow the steps below to create the required certificate.
To configure clients to require HTTPS communication to the WSUS server, simply update the domain Group Policy Object (GPO) or the Configuration Service Provider (CSP) policy used to configure WSUS to leverage HTTPS and the desired port.
Because every WSUS server must be configured to use the SSL/TLS protocol, the order in which the steps are performed will depend on your environment. If you have a simple infrastructure where the required steps can be performed on all WSUS servers within a single timeframe, then a top-down approach can be used. However, if you have a large infrastructure that will require a phased approach, then a bottom-up approach should be used.
In this example, it is assumed that all WSUS servers can be configured within a single timeframe. In this case, the upstream WSUS server can be configured first using the steps above. Any downstream WSUS servers can then be configured using the steps above in addition to setting the WSUS option to Use SSL when synchronizing update information.
In this example, it is assumed that a phased approach will be required to configure all WSUS servers. In this case, a bottom-up approach should be leveraged. All downstream WSUS servers should be configured for HTTPS before their upstream WSUS server is configured to use HTTPS. After their upstream WSUS server is configured to use HTTPS, the WSUS setting Use SSL when synchronizing update information on each downstream server can be enabled.
We recommend that you review the security of your WSUS infrastructure. If HTTPS is not currently in use, see Securing WSUS and follow the instructions in this article to achieve a greater level of security.
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