Checking SSL / TLS Version Support of a Remote Host from the Command Line

Published: February 1, 2018

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A few days back I received an alert from New Relic that a site was down.

I checked the New Relic UI for more details and saw the following…

New Relic Error

“fatal alert: protocol_version” :open_mouth:

I did a little bit of research and arrived at the New Relic forums where I found a question titled “Availability report - connection error (Received fatal alert: protocol_version)”. There I found the following answer…

The legacy Availability Monitor in APM only supports TLS 1.0 which is why it began throwing errors once you disabled older TLS protocols.

https://discuss.newrelic.com/t/availability-report-connection-error-received-fatal-alert-protocol-version/52483/5

My next course of action was to check whether or not the site in question supported TLS 1.0. In post, let’s review our options for checking SSL / TLS version support from the command line.

NOTE: This post is focused on Unix systems. Windows is ignored.

openssl s_client

The simplest way to check support for a given version of SSL / TLS is via openssl s_client. openssl comes installed by default on most unix systems.

Checking for TLS 1.0 support can be done with the following command…

$ openssl s_client -connect www.example.com:443 -tls1

If the protocol is supported you’ll see the remote host’s certificate and the connection will remain open. At the time of writing this www.google.com supports TLS 1.0. Here’s what happens when I run that command against www.google.com…(I’ve redacted the SSL-Session section because…paranoia…)

$ openssl s_client -connect www.google.com:443 -tls1
CONNECTED(00000005)
depth=2 C = US, O = GeoTrust Inc., CN = GeoTrust Global CA
verify error:num=20:unable to get local issuer certificate
verify return:0
---
Certificate chain
 0 s:/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=www.google.com
   i:/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority G2
 1 s:/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority G2
   i:/C=US/O=GeoTrust Inc./CN=GeoTrust Global CA
 2 s:/C=US/O=GeoTrust Inc./CN=GeoTrust Global CA
   i:/C=US/O=Equifax/OU=Equifax Secure Certificate Authority
---
Server certificate
-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----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-----END CERTIFICATE-----
subject=/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=www.google.com
issuer=/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority G2
---
No client certificate CA names sent
---
SSL handshake has read 3828 bytes and written 336 bytes
---
New, TLSv1/SSLv3, Cipher is ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA
Server public key is 2048 bit
Secure Renegotiation IS supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
No ALPN negotiated
SSL-Session:
    Protocol  : TLSv1
    Cipher    : ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA
    ...

    Start Time: 1517539773
    Timeout   : 7200 (sec)
    Verify return code: 0 (ok)
---

If the protocol is not supported you’ll see an error like this and the connection will close

140735577543560:error:1409442E:SSL routines:SSL3_READ_BYTES:tlsv1 alert protocol version:/BuildRoot/Library/Caches/com.apple.xbs/Sources/libressl/libressl-22/libressl/ssl/s3_pkt.c:1133:SSL alert number 70
140735577543560:error:1409E0E5:SSL routines:SSL3_WRITE_BYTES:ssl handshake failure:/BuildRoot/Library/Caches/com.apple.xbs/Sources/libressl/libressl-22/libressl/ssl/s3_pkt.c:522:

Checking other protocols is just a matter of changing the -tls1 flag. Here’s what the command looks like for other TLS versions…

TLS 1.1

$ openssl s_client -connect www.example.com:443 -tls1_1

TLS 1.2

$ openssl s_client -connect www.example.com:443 -tls1_2

You’ll see -ssl2 and -ssl3 documented in a few places such as the blog post “How Can I Determine What SSL/TLS Versions Are Available for HTTPS Communication?” on The Nubby Admin however, openssl dropped support support these versions in newer versions.

nmap ssl-enum-ciphers

Another option for checking SSL / TLS version support is nmap. nmap is not typically installed by default, so you’ll need to manually install it. Once installed you can use the following command to check SSL / TLS version support…

$ nmap --script ssl-enum-ciphers -p 443 www.example.com

nmap’s ssl-enum-ciphers script will not only check SSL / TLS version support for all versions (TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1, and TLS 1.2) in one go, but will also check cipher support for each version including giving providing a grade. Here’s what we see for www.google.com…

$ nmap --script ssl-enum-ciphers -p 443 www.google.com

Starting Nmap 7.40 ( https://nmap.org ) at 2018-02-01 22:03 EST
Nmap scan report for www.google.com (172.217.7.132)
Host is up (0.018s latency).
rDNS record for 172.217.7.132: iad30s08-in-f4.1e100.net
PORT    STATE SERVICE
443/tcp open  https
| ssl-enum-ciphers:
|   TLSv1.0:
|     ciphers:
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - C
|     compressors:
|       NULL
|     cipher preference: server
|     warnings:
|       64-bit block cipher 3DES vulnerable to SWEET32 attack
|   TLSv1.1:
|     ciphers:
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - C
|     compressors:
|       NULL
|     cipher preference: server
|     warnings:
|       64-bit block cipher 3DES vulnerable to SWEET32 attack
|   TLSv1.2:
|     ciphers:
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_CHACHA20_POLY1305_SHA256 - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA - unknown
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_CHACHA20_POLY1305_SHA256 (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256 (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - A
|       TLS_RSA_WITH_3DES_EDE_CBC_SHA (rsa 2048) - C
|     compressors:
|       NULL
|     cipher preference: server
|     warnings:
|       64-bit block cipher 3DES vulnerable to SWEET32 attack
|_  least strength: unknown

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 4.36 seconds

nmap ssl-enum-ciphers is convenient as it only takes a single command to get all this information, making nmap a worthwhile tool to install.

Max Chadwick Hi, I'm Max!

I'm a software developer who mainly works in PHP, but also dabbles in Ruby and Go. Technical topics that interest me are monitoring, security and performance.

During the day I solve challenging technical problems at Something Digital where I mainly work with the Magento platform. I also blog about tech, work on open source and hunt for bugs.

If you'd like to get in touch with me the best way is on Twitter.