Microsoft Certificate Server enables anyone to create digital certificates for Web servers, clients, organizations, and others. Given that anyone can issue digital certificates, how can we be sure that the certificate owner is who they claim to be, and not, for example, a Trojan Web server?
In the process of issuing a digital certificate, the Certificate Authority (CA) validates the identity of the individual requesting the certificate and then signs the certificate with its own private key.
A client application—such as Microsoft Internet Explorer—will check the CA signature before accepting a certificate. If the CA signature is not valid, or if it comes from an unknown Certificate Authority, Microsoft Internet Explorer will warn the user by displaying a security message and may prevent the user from accepting the certificate.
If the certificates issued by your Certificate Server are to be trusted by applications such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, you must identify it as a Certificate Authority.
Certificate Server includes support for client certificate enrollment using Microsoft Internet Explorer version 3.0 or later and Netscape Navigator. For obtaining a client certificate with these browsers, you open the client authentication page and submit your identification information. After Certificate Server creates the client certificate, it will be returned to the browser, which installs the certificate on your client.
Servers that wish to perform authentication of clients must obtain and install a CA certificate provided by the CA that issues the client certificates. The CA certificate is needed by the server to validate the client certificates.
IIS uses CA certificates that are stored in the same location in the system registry as Microsoft Internet Explorer. The procedure for installing CA certificates for use by IIS is to load Microsoft Internet Explorer on the same machine and use it to install the CA certificates just as you would on a client machine.
Netscape Enterprise Server has a user interface for installing the CA certificate for the CA issuing a server certificate as part of the server certificate installation process.
Note Netscape FastTrack Server does not include a user interface to install new Microsoft Certificate Server CA certificates, so it cannot participate in client or server authentication with locally generated certificates.
Request reception. The certificate request is sent by the client to an intermediary application. The intermediary application formats it into a PKCS #10 format request and submits it to the Server Engine/iishelp/certsrv/concept_19.htm.
Request approval. The Server Engine calls the Policy Module, which queries request properties, decides whether the request is authorized or not, and sets optional certificate properties.
Certificate formation. If the request is approved, the Server Engine takes the request and builds a complete certificate.
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