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CipherTrust Manager Administration

Certificate Based Authentication


Please Note:

Certificate Based Authentication

The CipherTrust Manager authenticates a user's login request by verifying the username and password against its internal database. The CipherTrust Manager can also be configured to authenticate login requests using browser-based web certificates. This section elaborates upon the steps that you need to perform to enable Certificate based Authentication for logging in the CipherTrust Manager.

Step 1: Enable the "Certificate based Login" Option for a User

  1. Log on to CipherTrust Manager as an administrator. Navigate to Keys & Access management > Users.

  2. Enable the "Certificate based Login" option for the user:

    For certificate based login to work in any domain for a user, the issuer CA of that user certificate must be added in the domain and user_authentication for that CA must be enabled.

    The CipherTrust Manager supports fields such as Domain Component (DC) and Given Name (GN) in the Distinguished Name for certificate-based login. Local CAs do not support the DC and GN fields, so they cannot issue certificates with these fields. Use external CA for issuing certificates with DC and GN fields.
    DC=DomainComponent,C=IN,ST= State,L=Location,O=Thales,OU=CipherTrust,GN=GivenName,CN=CommonName

    Specifying a Common Name (CN) is mandatory for this feature to work. The entities must be specified carefully in this field, and separated by commas (,).
    For example:
    If Distinguished Name (DN) field contains values that are separated by comma, then those values must be followed by a backslash (\).
    For example:

    As per RFC 5280, a multivalued RDN (for instance - OU) should be arranged in a sorted order (using octet string sort), that is, the values with the shorter lengths should come first followed by a lexicographic sorting.
    All the certificates created by the CipherTrust Manager follow this arrangement.
    For example:
    While issuing certificate, if user provides the following subject DN as an input:
    The issued certificate will have the subject DN set as:

    • For existing users:

      1. Click the action button for that user, then click Manage.

      2. Click CONFIGURE CERTIFICATE LOGIN. Select Allow user to login using certificate.

      3. Specify Certificate Subject Distinguished Name for the user.

      4. Click Update Certificate Login.

    • For new users:

      1. Click Create New User. Specify Username and Password for the user.

      2. Select Allow user to login using certificate.

      3. Specify Certificate Subject Distinguished Name for the user.

      4. Click Create.

    If you select the checkbox Allow user to login using certificate only, it enables the certificate based authentication for logging in to the CipherTrust Manager. Consequently, the user will be restricted to login using browser-based web certificates. For more information, refer Creating a User through GUI.

Step 2: Create and Download the Web Certificate

If using Local CA
  1. Go to CA > Local.

  2. Click Add Local CA.

    1. Enter the Common Name for this certificate.

      This common name should be the same common name that was specified while creating the user ("User_1" in previous example).

    2. Select desired algorithm (RSA or ECDSA).

    3. In the Name (comma separated) field, specify the same details that were specified in the Certificate Subject Distinguished Name field while creating the user.

    4. Click Add Local CA.

    5. Under Name, click the link of the newly generated local CA.

    6. Click Issue Certificate.

      1. Enter the Common Name for this certificate.

        This common name should be the same common name that you specified while creating the user.

      2. Select the desired algorithm (RSA or ECDSA).

      3. In the Name field, specify the same details that you specified in the certificate_subject_dn property of the user.


        If subject DN of a certificate and a CA are same then certificate is treated as a self signed certificate. However, the self signed certificates are not recognized by the Web UI of a CipherTrust Manager for certificate login.

      4. Click Issue Certificate.

      5. Click save private key to download the key.pem file.

      6. Click Issue Certificate. The newly created certificate is displayed in the certificates list.

  3. Download the certificate issued by the local CA and save it at the same location where the private key is saved.

If using External CA
  1. Upload the external CA.

  2. Navigate to Admin Settings > System > Interface. The Interface Configuration page is displayed.

  3. Click the action button on the Web Interface Configuration, select Edit.

  4. Add the new external CA in the External Trusted CAs section. Click Update.

  5. Navigate to Admin Settings > System > Services.

  6. Restart the web service.

    Restarting the web service can take few seconds.

Step 3: Create and Install pkcs12 Formatted Certificate

  1. Install OpenSSL on your machine.

  2. Use the following command to convert the key and certificate into a pkcs12 formatted .pfx file:

    openssl pkcs12 -export -out example.pfx -inkey key.pem -in certificate.pem


    • key.pem is the private key

    • certificate.pem is the certificate file

    • example.pfx is the pkcs12 formatted web certificate that will be installed in the web browser

    This creates a .pfx certificate (example.pfx in the above command) at the same location.

  3. Go to the web browser's settings.

  4. Import and install the .pfx certificate.

You can now use the web certificate for logging on to CipherTrust Manager. Before logging on, you will be prompted to select the web certificate at the login page.

After performing the above steps, if you are not prompted by the browser to select the certificate at login page, then clear your browser's cookies and try again.

Currently, this feature is applicable to local users only. LDAP users are not supported.

CipherTrust Manager verifies the revocation status of the certificate using the Certificate Revocation List (CRL) method before login. If the certificate is revoked, the CipherTrust Manager returns an unauthorized error message stating "cannot log in the user with a revoked certificate". In case, CRL URL is not reachable, then the CipherTrust Manager logs a message and lets the user login successfully.