Disable SSLv2 System Wide

For anyone that has had to deal with any of the "PCI auditing" companies you know how much of a pain in the ass SSLv2 can be. But, there's a few pretty easy ways to clear it up.

1. Compile OpenSSL without SSLv2 support

Ok this one is actually a joke. I hear it's possible but really who is going to waste the time.

2. Disable it per-application

So you only got busted for having SSLv2 enabled on a certain port, eh? Here's some basics. For the rest use Option 3 or RTFM and post in the comments ;-) Once you edit the correct files, Test for SSLv2 to make sure it's gone.

apache httpd:
Add the following line to your httpd.conf:

SSLProtocol ALL -SSLv2

A more secure method to make sure you pass PCI compliance is this:


dovecot 1.0+ (keep reading)
Add this line to your dovecot.conf:

ssl_cipher_list = HIGH:MEDIUM:+TLSv1:!SSLv2:+SSLv3

IIS 5.0 & 6.0
Microsoft has two articles on this, pick your poison:

Add to lighttpd.conf:

ssl.use-sslv2 = "disable"


smtpd_tls_mandatory_protocols = SSLv3, TLSv1
smtpd_tls_mandatory_ciphers = medium, high


TlsCipherList HIGH:MEDIUM:+TLSv1:!SSLv2:+SSLv3



(This is only if you have SSL support enabled). vsftpd.conf:


Note on cipher lists:
In the above examples I used HIGH:MEDIUM:+TLSv1:!SSLv2:+SSLv3 but really if you just want to disable SSLv2 and leave other problematic ciphers you could use ALL:!SSLv2. Or you can come up with your own cipher list like ALL:!ADH:!LOW:!SSLv2:!EXP:+HIGH:+MEDIUM.

3. Use Stunnel

This is the penicillin of the SSL world. It will cure your problems. Use this to fix those pesky programs (except FTP) that don't allow you to edit the cipher list or worst of all, don't have SSL support.

Check if it's currently installed
(probably if you're using RHEL):

which stunnel

If it's not installed
Try to get it from the repositories:

yum install stunnel


apt-get install stunnel4

Other: Compile from source. It's simple. Latest no-experimental build at time of writing was 4.20:

wget http://www.stunnel.org/download/stunnel/src/stunnel-4.20.tar.gz
tar xzvf stunnel-4.20.tar.gz
cd stunnel-4.20
sudo make install

You'll also want to install the init file:

sudo cp tools/stunnel.init /etc/init.d/stunnel
sudo chmod 755 /etc/init.d/stunnel
sudo chown root:root /etc/init.d/stunnel

If using RHEL/CentOS:

chkconfig --add stunnel

Setup the Stunnel certificate
I set a valid period for 10 years because I don't like dealing with these things. When it asks for the FQDN enter your server address (ex: adamyoung.net):

mkdir -p /etc/stunnel
cd /etc/stunnel
openssl req -newkey rsa:1024 -keyout key.pem -nodes -x509 -days 3650 -out cert.pem
cat key.pem > stunnel.pem
cat cert.pem >> stunnel.pem
rm key.pem cert.pem
chmod 600 stunnel.pem

Setup /etc/stunnel/stunnel.conf
For this example I'll use dovecot because I mentioned above that dovecot

cert = /etc/stunnel/stunnel.pem

accept  = 993
connect =  143

accept  = 995
connect =  110

You may also want to secure the server you send outgoing mail to. First, check to make sure something else (postfix?) doesn't have the port open with

netstat -an | grep 465

If you see a line like this:

tcp        0      0       *                   LISTEN

Then you're already taken care of. Otherwise, add the following lines to /etc/stunnel/stunnel.conf:

accept  = 465
connect = 25

Next up, you need to tell dovecot to stop listening on the IMAPS and POPS ports. Edit the protocols line of /etc/dovecot.conf:

protocols = imap pop3

Last step! Restart dovecot and start stunnel (in RHEL/CentOS you can use the service command instead):

/etc/init.d/dovecot restart
/etc/init.d/stunnel start

Testing that SSLv2 is Disabled

openssl s_client -connect HOSTNAME:PORT -ssl2

If you receive the certificate and a ton of other lines, you still have SSLv2 enabled. Otherwise, if you receive anything like these you're fine:
8965:error:1407F0E5:SSL routines:SSL2_WRITE:ssl handshake failure:s2_pkt.c:428:


This was very helpful!! You saved me a lot of time.


On Apache 2.0.x, it seems necessary to include the first line, even if the second is used... the article should perhaps make that more clear... I had read it as the second was sufficient.

SSLProtocol ALL -SSLv2

A more secure method to make sure you pass PCI compliance is this:



Also, neither line seems to work on Apache 1.3.

would you happen to know the commands which would work on apache 1.3

I try to disable dovecot sslv2 as you say.

Setup the Stunnel certificate
Setup /etc/stunnel/stunnel.conf

But it doesn't work. Help me! Thank you very much!

dovecot has it's own config file for disabling sslv2.

You are a saint for providing this. Saved me uncountable HOURS. Kudos for your clarity and completeness. Brilliant! Thanks!

ProFTPD's mod_tls module does not support SSLv2; it is programmatically disabled in the code. So the TLSCipherSuite you mentioned is not strictly necessary for disabling SSLv2 support in proftpd.

I followed you clear instructions, and everything seem to be right, until i test for SSLv2
openssl s_client -connect HOSTNAME:PORT -ssl2
(I replaced HOSTNAME with my host name and port with 995)
Unfortunately i receive the certificate.

There was a small difference in my stunnel.conf:

Instead of

accept = 995
connect = 110

I have

accept = 995
connect = 110

I have no dovecot installed...

Can you point me in the right direction?


Installed stunnel, but no dovecot installed.

I also have [pop3s]

I'm specifically having problem disabling weak cyphers, SSL 2 on port 995.

Michael, did you get this right?

Adam, any help?


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I am dealing with the exact XYZ auditing to disable SSLv2 and found your site, excellent!



Here is a <A href="http://sial.org/howto/sendmail/cipherlist/#s3">recipe for sendmail's config file</A>... Their example:

Apart from disabling SSL2, the following also ensure to use strong ciphers (in lighttpd.conf or the SSL sub-config file) for FF3 / IE7 / IE8:

ssl.use-sslv2 = "disable"
ssl.cipher-list = "DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA;AES256-SHA;DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA;DES-CBC3-SHA"

If your clients are using IE6, use the following instead:

ssl.use-sslv2 = "disable"

I found this Blog very very useful. It saved my time. I am working for PCI certification for my company.

Thanks & regards

Qmail's cypher lists are in:


They use the same OpenSSL parameter lists as everything else, so:





I wrote a <a href="http://foundeo.com/products/iis-weak-ssl-ciphers/">tool to disable SSL v2 on IIS</a> if you don't like messing around in Regex.

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You provided some good examples for other systems/products, but did not provide any command and syntax examples for stunnel v4.x.

I am running v 4.27 as a service on Windows Server 2003.

What is the proper syntax for disabling sslv2 in stunnel v4.x windows?
What chiphers should I allow? disallow? What strong chipers does stunnel 4.x support?

The built-in help file is not much help as you can see by the Examples below...

sslVersion = version
select version of SSL protocol
Allowed options: all, SSLv2, SSLv3, TLSv1

ciphers = cipherlist
Select permitted SSL ciphers
A colon delimited list of the ciphers to allow in the SSL connection. For example DES-CBC3-SHA:IDEA-CBC-MD5

for sslVersion, am I limited to only one item, or can I select sslv3 and tlsv1, and if so, how?
for ciphers, what ciphers shold I use to ensure that only strong ones are used at the server and client?


; Protocol version (all, SSLv2, SSLv3, TLSv1)
sslVersion = all
options = NO_SSLv2

I am using stunnel 4.27 to provide SSL services for another application

I was able to disable sslv2, but am still not PCI compliant

Here is what I have in my stunnel.config file...

sslVersion = all
options = NO_SSLv2
ciphers = HIGH:!SSLv2:!ADH:!Exp:!aNULL:!eNULL:!NULL

The ciphers that continue to show up are weak export ciphers.
DES-CBC-MD5 (56)
EXP-RC2-CBC-MD5 (40)
EXP-RC4-MD5 (40)

I would think my ciphers = line (above) would prevent the export and other weak ciphers from being used.

Is my ciphers line correct for stunnel v4?
ciphers = HIGH:!SSLv2:!ADH:!EXP:!aNULL:!eNULL:!NULL

Is the syntax different for stunnel v4?

Is there anything else I need to add to my config file to make my stunnel PCI compliant?


For stunnel4, this syntax is good:

ciphers = HIGH:!SSLv2:!ADH:!EXP:!aNULL:!eNULL:!NULL

You can verify with and without ciphers are follows:

From http://blog.stackley.net/blog1.php/2009/07/08/pci-compliance-weak-ciphers

openssl s_client -ssl2 -connect ipAddressOrHostName>:443
openssl s_client -cipher LOW -connect ipAddressOrHostName:443
openssl s_client -cipher LOW:EXP -connect ipAddressOrHostName:443

The following seems to be working for me.

; Protocol version (all, SSLv2, SSLv3, TLSv1)
sslVersion = all

; Disable SSLv2
options = NO_SSLv2

; List of allowed Ciphers
<strong>ciphers = ALL:!ADH:!LOW:!EXP:!MD5:@STRENGTH</strong>

; Some performance tunings
socket = l:TCP_NODELAY=1
socket = r:TCP_NODELAY=1

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