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Time by time I read questions about CDP and AIA extensions on Root CA and in Root CA certificate.

  • CDPCRL Distribution Point is an extension that contains links to the CRL of the issuer of the certificate which is being verified.
  • AIAAuthority Information Access is an extension that contains links to the certificate of the issuer of the certificate which is being verified.

Check these articles for better understanding of certificate chaining engine:

Let's see how these are used by certificate chaining engine (CCE). At first application must build a certificate chain. When CCE is processing a certificate it uses AIA extension to retrieve certificate issuer's certificate. Once it is retrieved, CCE set issuer's certificate as current and checks for *current* certificate issuer's certificate. This is normal and expected behavior for non-self-signed certificates. Once a certificate is presented in the self-signed form, there is no issuer. Certificate is issued to itself. As the result if AIA extension exist in the self-signed certificate it will point to itself and will cause loops. To address this issue, it is recommended to *NOT INCLUDE* AIA extension in the self-signed certificate (also referred to Root certificate).

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Sometimes users accidentally delete their certificates from personal store. After that users are not able to perform certificate-based tasks, i.e. decrypt files or mail, sign data and authenticate. Some organizations implement Key Archival for certificate and private key recovery. But some organizations do not. Even if key archival is enabled, it is not always required. In our case, user just deleted certificate from personal store. Let’s look to a private key storage background.

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Windows PKI team always knows how to make our live harder :). Yesterday Shay Levy pointed me to one interesting thread:

Basic intro: this attribute is used by Credential Roaming Service. By default if user uses roaming profile, credentials (and personal certificates) don’t roam! This means that user can use the same profile on other computers, but will not able to use certificates (i.e. decrypt files, mails, sign documents and so on). Though if certificate autoenrollment is enabled, user will enroll new certificates. But they will remain on that computer only. The one possible way to work around this issue is to use smart cards. But this is quite expensive solution. With Credential Roaming Service all certificates will roam with user. However this is not pretty secure solution, because domain administrators will have an access to user private keys. However at certain point domain users must trust administrators, so this solution is enough for many scenarios with roaming profiles.

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Several days ago I have worked on one interesting issue:

Enterprise CA running on a Hyper-V virtual machine. Due of maintenance plans host server was rebooted. In the next day users were unable to logon to their workstations by using smart cards due of the error: A revocation check could not be performed for the certificate. Password users were unable to connect to terminal servers by using RDP-TLS protocol due of the same error.

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Update 04.08.2018: clarified behavior on timestamping certificate revocation

Hello again! Today I would like to discuss about digital signatures and signature usage questions.

A very short introduction to digital signatures

As you know the signature guarantees that the electronic document wasn't changed after signing process. This is a useful feature for sensitive data that may be changed during transfer over network. For example, Internet. There is one well-known attack named Man In The Middle (MITM). In MITM, malicious user intercepts document change some data and transfer to the original recipient. If the document is originally signed (by sender) the recipient will attempt to validate document signature and will see that the document was changed during data transmission. This would invalidate the document.

In real world digital signatures are used very often and use asymmetric encryption/decryption processes.

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