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I think, I have to publish several articles that would cover common PKI/ADCS administration tasks with PowerShell by using my PowerShell PKI module (of course!). Today I'll cover very simple, but very common task: managing pending certificate requests.

In this post we would propose the following scenario:

  • IIS admin requested certificate for internal SharePoint portal
  • Certificate template is configured to require CA manager approval to issue the certificate.
  • No certificate will be issued until CA manager review and approve the request.

Just to make it clear, CA manager approval is configured in the certificate template, as follows:

you, as CA manager, received notification about incoming certificate request. Your task is to review the certificate request to ensure that it is properly constructed and conforms internal security policies and then make decision: approve or deny certificate request. You can do this by using Certification Authority MMC snap-in, but this would require a lot of clicks and without having a chance to automate this. Another solution that includes PowerShell offers you great automation capabilites.

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About the problem

PowerShell MVP, Adam Bertram with his recent tweet inspired me to write this blog post. I realized that I see a lot of articles which describe how to delete certificate from certificate store, but never saw article that would describe how to do it properly.

Let’s recall what is wrong here. Years ago I wrote a blog post: The case of accidentally deleted user certificates that describes steps how to restore deleted certificate with private key by having a backup certificate only with public key. I explained why you can use certificate with just public key to restore bindings to private key. The answer was: when you delete certificate by using standard means (certificate store management functions in CryptoAPI), the private key is not deleted! Standard tools includes: Certificates MMC snap-in, X509Store class in .NET, certutil, etc., all they use Certificate and Certificate Store Functions. Our goal now is to fill the gap and provide an ability to remove private key along with certificate when you work in PowerShell.

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In previous post I talked about weirdness in CNG support in .NET and showed an example how to fill the gaps in .NET. That was just an example. Today I will show how to perform basic cryptographic operations with CNG in PowerShell and other CLR languages (C#, VB.NET). PowerShell is built on top of CLR, so the techniques are almost identical, despite a bit different syntax.

So, today I will show how to sign the data with CNG certificate. The easiest way is to use NCrypt* unmanaged function family exposed by NCRYPT.DLL.

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Many of you use IIS web servers in corporate network for various purposes, for example, to host internal/external web site, ADCS web services, OCSP, WSUS and this list is very long. It is common to manage them all from a centralized place, for example, from web server administrator’s computer. In other words, IIS servers are not managed directly from console.

The problem

By default IIS do not allow remote administration, you have to enable it by starting (and, likely, setting start type to Automatic) Web Management Service (WMSVC). Ok, you started the service on a web server and attempt to connect to the server from remote IIS management console:

Server Certificate Alert: The certificate was issued to a different server.

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Hello S-1-1-0, Crypto Guy is on a failboat board again.

Sometimes it is useful to export a certificate template to a file for future use. For example:

  • for custom certificate template backup;
  • if you have multiple AD forests, you can transfer configured certificate templates between forests;
  • share custom certificate template with partners;
  • share certificate template when you are making a online learning session;
  • etc..

Till Windows Server 2008 R2 release there was no supported way to export (or serialize) certificate template and move it out of band between two forests. With Windows Server 2008 R2 there was the only publically described way to transfer templates between two forests: AD CS: Cross-forest Certificate Enrollment with Windows Server 2008 R2. This whitepaper includes a PKISync.ps1 script (the script was written by a man who first time faced PowerShell, he-he) which copies certificate templates along other AD data between two forests. The downside of this approach is that it requires a two-way trust between forests and performs data transfer online.

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