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Download File ASN 125


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SSL is an implementation of a Public-Key Infrastructure (PKI) and as such,deals quite a bit with certificates. In fact, it's safe to say that if something goeswrong with an SSL setup, there's a 90% probability that a misconfiguredcertificate will end up being the root cause. Certificates (X.509 certificates,to be precise) are described in a formal language called "ASN.1" orAbstract Syntax Notation (.1). (ASN.1 is somewhat similar, atleast in concept, to XML or JSON). There are quite a few differentsorts of file associated with certificates, and there are no standards onexactly how they should be named or what extensions they should use. Whenpresented with a mysterious PKI-related file, viewing the raw structure canbe helpful in determining what exactly you're dealing with or possibly what'sgone wrong with it. However, if you open one up in, say, a text editor, it probably looks somethinglike: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 is clearly Base64 encoded, but Base64 decoding it won't provide you withany useful information; it's a Base64 encoding of the Distinguished EncodingRule (DER) representation of an ASN.1-formatted file. To parse it moremeaningfully, use the asn1parse subcommand:

Most likely, this means that you're dealing with a DER-encoded, rather thanPEM-encoded, file. What's the difference? Well, DER is the "raw form" thatSSL itself needs in order to process the certificate correctly; this is what'sactually transferred by the server to the client to authenticate itself. Asyou probably know, though, binary files and e-mail don't mix, so files areusually (but not always) Base64 encoded before being attached to an e-mail.A Base-64 representation of a DER-encoded certificate or signing request iscalled (somewhat illogically) a Privacy Enhanced Mail or PEMformat. In fact, a common (but not required) convention is to name rawcertificate files with a .der extension and Base64-encoded fileswith a .pem extension.

However, by default these will all be printed below the dump of the fulltext contents of the Base64-encoded certificate file. The useful-noout (which, honestly, ought to be the default) suppresses this,so you just get the information you asked for. If you'd like a summary, whichis a good assumption in most cases, you can pass in the -textoption which displays a readable overview of all of the information in thecertificate:

Also, the private key will go to a file named privkey.pem,overwriting any identically-named file that happens to be there (with nowarning!) This can be frustrating, especially if you're already using thecorresponding certificate. So, get in the habit early of alwaysspecifying a private key file:

The first step is to create a self-signed root certificate to act as thecertificate authority as shown above. Once this has been done, create a CAconfiguration file. OpenSSL installs a sample openssl.cnf file inits configuration directory (which varies from one installation to the next).For the most part, especially for testing purposes, you can just use thissample configuration file as is; if you're going to be spending much timedealing with certificates, though, it's worth getting acquainted with exactlywhat is in this file. Some of the interesting options, at least with regardsto certicate authority management, are the location of the serial numbers andthe location of the Certificate Revocation List. I won't review all of the options here(and to be honest, there are a few I'm not that familiar with myself),but for the most part you can get away with accepting the defaults, especiallyfor non-production (i.e. test) usage.

However, some of the options in the [ CA_default ] sectionrefer to directories and files which, if not present, will cause the CA tofail, so you must create them before you can sign a CSR. The OpenSSL sourcedistribution ships with a simple perl utility called thatsimplifies this process, but all it's really doing is creating the directorystructure that the default openssl.cnf expects. The relevantsection is:mkdir demoCAmkdir demoCA/certsmkdir demoCA/crlmkdir demoCA/newcertsmkdir demoCA/privatetouch demoCA/index.txtecho "01" demoCA/crlnumberThis is enough to get a basic sample CA up and running; if you don't likethe directory or filenames, each can be changed in openssl.cnf.In particular, you may want to change dir to something moremeaningful than demoCA.

  • So, from start to finish, here are the minimum steps you need to take in orderto create your own certificate authority:Create the configuration file. The smallest configuration file that willallow you to sign certificates is:[ ca ]default_ca = miniCA[ miniCA ]certificate = ./cacert.pemdatabase = ./index.txtprivate_key = ./cakey.pemnew_certs_dir = ./certsdefault_md = sha1policy = policy_matchserial = ./serialdefault_days = 365[policy_match]commonName = supplied

  • Create the directory structure:$ mkdir certs$ touch index.txt$ echo "01" serial

  • Create the root certificate:$ openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -out cacert.pem -keyout cakey.pemGenerating a 2048 bit RSA private key...........+++.................................................+++writing new private key to 'cakey.pem'Enter PEM pass phrase:Verifying - Enter PEM pass phrase:-----You are about to be asked to enter information that will be incorporatedinto your certificate request.What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name or a DN.There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blankFor some fields there will be a default value,If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.-----Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:USState or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:TexasLocality Name (eg, city) []:PlanoOrganization Name (eg, company) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:2xofficeOrganizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:ArchitectureCommon Name (e.g. server FQDN or YOUR name) []:Certificate AuthorityEmail Address []:joshua.davies.tx@gmail.comNote that, if you intend to use this CA for anything resembling a securepurpose, you must protect the cakey.pem with a strong password and makesure to use the OS to protect it as well:$ chmod 400 cakey.pemThe certificate itself (cakey.pem in this case) will be distributedto the endpoints that will be validating the signed certificates; e.g. theweb servers that are configured to request client certificates.

  • Create a certificate signing request:$ openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -out csr.pem -keyout privkey.pem

  • Finally, sign the request. Before you do, you may want to take note ofthe directory contents of the CA directory, just to get a sense of whatsigning a certificate does with regards to the CA directory:$ lsca.cnf certs index.txt serialcacert.pem cakey.pemSign the request:$ openssl ca -config ca.cnf -in csr.pem -out signed.pemUsing configuration from ca.cnfEnter pass phrase for ./cakey.pem:Check that the request matches the signatureSignature okThe Subject's Distinguished Name is as followscountryName :PRINTABLE:'US'stateOrProvinceName :PRINTABLE:'Texas'localityName :PRINTABLE:'Plano'organizationName :PRINTABLE:'2xoffice'organizationalUnitName:PRINTABLE:'Architecture'commonName :PRINTABLE:'Joshua Davies'emailAddress :IA5STRING:''Certificate is to be certified until May 29 14:54:35 2015 GMT (365 days)Sign the certificate? [y/n]:y1 out of 1 certificate requests certified, commit? [y/n]yWrite out database with 1 new entriesData Base UpdatedAnd take a look at the updated directory contents:$ lsca.cnf certs index.txt.attr serialcacert.pem index.txt.old serial.oldcakey.pem index.txt signed.pemindex.txt.attr, index.txt.old and serial.oldare new, added by the ca command. Also, the certs directorynow contains a copy of the signed certificate:$ ls certs/01.pemThis file is identical to the generated signed.pem file.

It's also worth noting that the signed certificate's subject is simply:

The reason is the [ policy ] section of the configuration file;since I only listed commonName in the policy section, that's the only attributethat's output. If I wanted to allow the requester to include other attributes,I'd have to list them individually: 041b061a72

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