Section: OpenSSL (1SSL)
openssl ca [-verbose] [-config filename] [-name section] [-gencrl] [-revoke file] [-status serial] [-updatedb] [-crl_reason reason] [-crl_hold instruction] [-crl_compromise time] [-crl_CA_compromise time] [-crldays days] [-crlhours hours] [-crlexts section] [-startdate date] [-enddate date] [-days arg] [-md arg] [-policy arg] [-keyfile arg] [-keyform PEM|DER] [-key arg] [-passin arg] [-cert file] [-selfsign] [-in file] [-out file] [-notext] [-outdir dir] [-infiles] [-spkac file] [-ss_cert file] [-preserveDN] [-noemailDN] [-batch] [-msie_hack] [-extensions section] [-extfile section] [-engine id] [-subj arg] [-utf8] [-multivalue-rdn]
The ca command is a minimal CA application. It can be used to sign certificate requests in a variety of forms and generate CRLs it also maintains a text database of issued certificates and their status.
A consequence of using -selfsign is that the self-signed certificate appears among the entries in the certificate database (see the configuration option database), and uses the same serial number counter as all other certificates sign with the self-signed certificate.
If -multi-rdn is not used then the UID value is 123456+CN=John Doe.
In practive removeFromCRL is not particularly useful because it is only used in delta CRLs which are not currently implemented.
The section of the configuration file containing options for ca is found as follows: If the -name command line option is used, then it names the section to be used. Otherwise the section to be used must be named in the default_ca option of the ca section of the configuration file (or in the default section of the configuration file). Besides default_ca, the following options are read directly from the ca section:
msie_hack With the exception of RANDFILE, this is probably a bug and may change in future releases.
Many of the configuration file options are identical to command line options. Where the option is present in the configuration file and the command line the command line value is used. Where an option is described as mandatory then it must be present in the configuration file or the command line equivalent (if any) used.
For convenience the values ca_default are accepted by both to produce a reasonable output.
If neither option is present the format used in earlier versions of OpenSSL is used. Use of the old format is strongly discouraged because it only displays fields mentioned in the policy section, mishandles multicharacter string types and does not display extensions.
The main use of this option is to allow a certificate request to supply values for certain extensions such as subjectAltName.
The policy section consists of a set of variables corresponding to certificate DN fields. If the value is ``match then the field value must match the same field in the CA certificate. If the value is ``supplied then it must be present. If the value is ``optional'' then it may be present. Any fields not mentioned in the policy section are silently deleted, unless the -preserveDN option is set but this can be regarded more of a quirk than intended behaviour.
The input to the -spkac command line option is a Netscape signed public key and challenge. This will usually come from the KEYGEN tag in an HTML form to create a new private key. It is however possible to create SPKACs using the spkac utility.
The file should contain the variable SPKAC set to the value of the SPKAC and also the required DN components as name value pairs. If you need to include the same component twice then it can be preceded by a number and a '.'.
Note: these examples assume that the ca directory structure is already set up and the relevant files already exist. This usually involves creating a CA certificate and private key with req, a serial number file and an empty index file and placing them in the relevant directories.
To use the sample configuration file below the directories demoCA, demoCA/private and demoCA/newcerts would be created. The CA certificate would be copied to demoCA/cacert.pem and its private key to demoCA/private/cakey.pem. A file demoCA/serial would be created containing for example ``01'' and the empty index file demoCA/index.txt.
Sign a certificate request:
openssl ca -in req.pem -out newcert.pem
Sign a certificate request, using CA extensions:
openssl ca -in req.pem -extensions v3_ca -out newcert.pem
Generate a CRL
openssl ca -gencrl -out crl.pem
Sign several requests:
openssl ca -infiles req1.pem req2.pem req3.pem
Certify a Netscape SPKAC:
openssl ca -spkac spkac.txt
A sample SPKAC file (the SPKAC line has been truncated for clarity):
SPKAC=MIG0MGAwXDANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAANLADBIAkEAn7PDhCeV/xIxUg8V70YRxK2A5 CN=Steve Test emailAddressfirstname.lastname@example.org 0.OU=OpenSSL Group 1.OU=Another Group
A sample configuration file with the relevant sections for ca:
[ ca ] default_ca = CA_default # The default ca section [ CA_default ] dir = ./demoCA # top dir database = $dir/index.txt # index file. new_certs_dir = $dir/newcerts # new certs dir certificate = $dir/cacert.pem # The CA cert serial = $dir/serial # serial no file private_key = $dir/private/cakey.pem# CA private key RANDFILE = $dir/private/.rand # random number file default_days = 365 # how long to certify for default_crl_days= 30 # how long before next CRL default_md = md5 # md to use policy = policy_any # default policy email_in_dn = no # Don't add the email into cert DN name_opt = ca_default # Subject name display option cert_opt = ca_default # Certificate display option copy_extensions = none # Don't copy extensions from request [ policy_any ] countryName = supplied stateOrProvinceName = optional organizationName = optional organizationalUnitName = optional commonName = supplied emailAddress = optional
Note: the location of all files can change either by compile time options, configuration file entries, environment variables or command line options. The values below reflect the default values.
/usr/local/ssl/lib/openssl.cnf - master configuration file ./demoCA - main CA directory ./demoCA/cacert.pem - CA certificate ./demoCA/private/cakey.pem - CA private key ./demoCA/serial - CA serial number file ./demoCA/serial.old - CA serial number backup file ./demoCA/index.txt - CA text database file ./demoCA/index.txt.old - CA text database backup file ./demoCA/certs - certificate output file ./demoCA/.rnd - CA random seed information
The text database index file is a critical part of the process and if corrupted it can be difficult to fix. It is theoretically possible to rebuild the index file from all the issued certificates and a current CRL: however there is no option to do this.
V2 CRL features like delta CRLs are not currently supported.
The use of an in memory text database can cause problems when large numbers of certificates are present because, as the name implies the database has to be kept in memory.
The ca command really needs rewriting or the required functionality exposed at either a command or interface level so a more friendly utility (perl script or GUI) can handle things properly. The scripts CA'.sh and CA'.pl help a little but not very much.
Any fields in a request that are not present in a policy are silently deleted. This does not happen if the -preserveDN option is used. To enforce the absence of the EMAIL field within the DN, as suggested by RFCs, regardless the contents of the request' subject the -noemailDN option can be used. The behaviour should be more friendly and configurable.
The ca command is quirky and at times downright unfriendly.
The ca utility was originally meant as an example of how to do things in a CA. It was not supposed to be used as a full blown CA itself: nevertheless some people are using it for this purpose.
The ca command is effectively a single user command: no locking is done on the various files and attempts to run more than one ca command on the same database can have unpredictable results.
The copy_extensions option should be used with caution. If care is not taken then it can be a security risk. For example if a certificate request contains a basicConstraints extension with CA:TRUE and the copy_extensions value is set to copyall and the user does not spot this when the certificate is displayed then this will hand the requestor a valid CA certificate.
This situation can be avoided by setting copy_extensions to copy and including basicConstraints with CA:FALSE in the configuration file. Then if the request contains a basicConstraints extension it will be ignored.
It is advisable to also include values for other extensions such as keyUsage to prevent a request supplying its own values.
Additional restrictions can be placed on the CA certificate itself. For example if the CA certificate has:
basicConstraints = CA:TRUE, pathlen:0
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