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What's New in Certificate Services in Windows Server

Published: October 1, 2012

Updated: July 3, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2



This topic describes the Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS) functionality that is new or changed in Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012. AD CS provides customizable services for issuing and managing public key infrastructure (PKI) certificates used in software security systems that employ public key technologies.

In this topic:

In Windows Server 2012 R2, Certificate Services offers enhanced support in the following areas:

 

Feature/functionality New or improved Description

Policy module support for the Network Device Enrollment Service

New

Using a policy module with the Network Device Enrollment Service provides enhanced security so that users and devices can request certificates from the Internet.

TPM key attestation

New

TPM key attestation lets the certification authority (CA) verify that the private key is protected by a hardware-based TPM.

Windows PowerShell for Certificate Services

New

New Windows PowerShell cmdlets are available for backup and restore.

The AD CS role service, Network Device Enrollment Service, is designed for secured networks and trusted administrators. Because of this design, enrollment can use a single password, or even no password, to request multiple certificates. In addition, there is no authentication for the subject name value supplied. However, Windows Server 2012 R2 supports a policy module for the Network Device Enrollment Service, which provides additional authentication that makes it practical to run this role service in a perimeter network. This configuration supports the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenario, where mobile devices such as those that run iOS and Android, and computers that are not domain members, can now use the Network Device Enrollment Service to request user and computer certificates from the Internet. This is sometimes referred to as over-the-air enrollment.

Windows Server 2012 R2 does not come with a policy module. You must install this separately, from a software vendor that provides a policy module, or write your own policy module. If you install a policy module from a software vendor, typically, this will be from a company that provides management for mobile devices. For example, System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager provides a policy module that is required for when you deploy certificate profiles.

For more information, see the following resources:

TPM key attestation lets the certification authority (CA) verify that the private key is protected by a hardware-based TPM and that the TPM is one that the CA trusts. This functionality prevents the certificate from being exported to an unauthorized device, and can bind the user identity to the device.

All TPMs have an endorsement key that is unique to each TPM. In some cases, TPMs have an endorsement key certificate that chains to the manufacturer’s issuing CA. Not all TPMs support attestation but when they do, you can optionally choose to validate the key attestation by using the endorsement key, or by using an endorsement key certificate.

To use TPM key attestation, the client operating system must be Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2. To configure TPM key attestation, use a version 4 certificate template with an enterprise CA, and configure the settings on the Key Attestation tab. Do not select Do not store certificate and requests in the CA database on the Server tab of the certificate template properties, because this configuration is not supported with TPM key attestation. In addition, standalone CAs and web enrollment do not support TPM key attestation.

When you configure TPM key attestation, you can choose increasing levels of assurance by specifying how to validate the endorsement key that is burned into the TPM by the manufacturer:

  • User credentials. No additional configuration is required on the CA.

  • Endorsement certificate. You must add the root and issuing CA certificates for the TPMs to new certificate stores on the CA. The new certificate stores are EKCA for the intermediate store, and EKRROT for the root store.

  • Endorsement key. You must add each endorsement key for the TPMs to an approved list (EKPUB list).

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If the settings on the Key Attestation tab are not available, verify the following settings:

  • On the Compatibility tab: The Certification Authority is set to Windows Server 2012 R2, and the Certificate recipient is set to Windows 8.1 / Windows Server 2012 R2.

  • On the Request Handling tab: The Allow private key to be exported check box and the Archive subject's encryption private key check box must not be selected.

  • On the Cryptography tab: The Provider Category is set to Key Storage Provider and the Algorithm name is set to RSA. In addition, the Request must use one of the following providers must be set to Microsoft Platform Crypto Provider.

For more information, see the following resources:

New Windows PowerShell cmdlets are available in Windows Server 2012 R2. You can use these cmdlets to back up and restore a certification authority (CA) database.

 

Cmdlet name New or improved Description

Backup-CARoleService

New

Back up the CA database.

Restore-CARoleService

New

Restore the CA database.

For more information about these cmdlets, see Backup-CARoleService and Restore-CARoleService.

To use these cmdlets in a migration scenario, see the following sections from Active Directory Certificate Services Migration Guide for Windows Server 2012 R2:

In Windows Server 2012, Active Directory Certificate Services offers enhanced support in the following areas:

Server Manager provides a centralized graphical user interface for installing and managing the AD CS server role and its six role services.

What value does this change add?

AD CS server role and its role services are integrated into Server Manager, which allows you to install the AD CS role service from the Manage menu using Add Roles and Features. Once the server role is added, AD CS appears in the Server Manager dashboard as one of the roles that can be managed. This provides you a central location from which you can deploy and manage AD CS and its role services. Further, the new Server Manager allows you to manage multiple servers from one location and you can see the AD CS role services installed on each server, review related events, and perform management tasks on each server. For more information on how the new Server Manager works, see Manage multiple, remote servers with Server Manager.

What works differently?

To add the AD CS Server Role, you can use the Add Roles and Features link on the Manage menu in Server Manager. The AD CS installation flow is similar to that in the previous version, except for the division of the binary installation process and the configuration process. Previously the installation and configuration was a single wizard. In the new installation experience, you first install the binary files and then you can launch the AD CS Configuration wizard to configure the role services that have already had their binary files installed. To remove the AD CS Server Role, you can use the Remove Roles and Features link on the Manage menu.

All AD CS role services can be configured or have their configurations removed by using the AD CS Deployment Windows PowerShell cmdlets. These new deployment cmdlets are described in the AD CS Deployment cmdlets Overview topic. The AD CS Administration cmdlet allows you to manage the Certification Authority role service. The new administration cmdlets are described in the AD CS Administration cmdlets Overview topic.

What value does this change add?

You can use Windows PowerShell to script deployments of any AD CS role service as well as the ability to manage the CA role service.

What works differently?

You can use either Server Manager or Windows PowerShell cmdlets to deploy the AD CS role services.

All Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 versions allow you to install all of the AD CS role services.

What value does this change add?

Unlike previous versions, you can install AD CS roles on any version of Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2.

What works differently?

In Windows Server 2008 R2, the different role services (previously called components) had different operating system version requirements, as described in Active Directory Certificate Services Overview. In Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2, all six of the roles services work as they would on any Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 version. The only difference is that you will find AD CS with all six role services available for installation on any version of Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2.

All six of the Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 AD CS role services can be installed and run using the Server Core or the Minimal Server Interface installation options.

What value does this change add?

Unlike previous versions, you can now run all AD CS role services on Server Core or the Minimal Server Interface installation options in Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2

What works differently?

You can now easily deploy AD CS role services using Server Manager or Windows PowerShell cmdlets working locally at the computer or remotely over the network. In addition, Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 provides multiple installation options that even allow you to install with a graphical user interface and later switch to a Server Core or Minimal Server Interface installation. For more information on installation options, see Windows Server Installation Options.

Certificate Enrollment Web Services is a feature that was added in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. This feature allows online certificate requests to come from untrusted Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) domains or even from computers that are not joined to a domain. AD CS in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 build on the Certificate Enrollment Web Services by adding the ability to automatically renew certificates for computers that are part of untrusted AD DS domains or not joined to a domain.

What value does this change add?

Administrators no longer need to manually renew certificates for computers that are members of workgroups or possibly joined to a different AD DS domain or forest.

What works differently?

Certificate Enrollment Web Services continues to function as it did before, but now computers that are outside of the domain can renew their certificates using their existing certificate for authentication.

Additional information, see the topic Key-based renewal. There are also two Test Lab Guides that demonstrate the use of this key-based renewal:

  1. Test Lab Guide: Demonstrating Certificate Key-Based Renewal

  2. Test Lab Guide Mini-Module: Cross-Forest Certificate Enrollment using Certificate Enrollment Web Services

AD CS in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 include version 4 certificate templates. These templates have several differences from previous template versions. Version 4 certificate templates:

  • Support both cryptographic service providers (CSPs) and key service providers (KSPs).

  • Can be set to require renewal with the same key.

  • Are only available for use by Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

  • Specify the minimum certification authority and certificate client operating systems that can utilize the template.

To help administrators separate what features are supported by which operating system version, the Compatibility tab was added to the certificate template properties tab.

What value does this change add?

The new version 4 certificate templates provide additional capabilities, such as enforcing renewal with the same key (available to only Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 certificate clients). The new Compatibility tab allows administrators to set different combinations of operating system versions for the certification authority and certificate clients and see only the settings that will work with those client versions.

What works differently?

The Compatibility tab appears in the Certificate Template properties user interface. This tab allows you to select the minimum certification authority and minimum certificate client operating system versions. The Compatibility tab configuration does a couple of things:

  • It marks options as unavailable in the certificate template properties depending upon the selected operating system versions of certificate client and certification authority.

  • For version 4 templates, it determines which operating system versions are able to use the template.

Clients prior to Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 will not be able to take advantage of the new version 4 templates.

noteNote
There is a statement on the Compatibility tab that reads These settings may not prevent earlier operating systems from using this template. This statement means that compatibility settings have no restrictive effect on version 1, version 2, or version 3 templates and enrollment may proceed as before. For example, in Compatibility tab, if the minimum client operating system version is set to Windows Vista on a version 2 template, a Windows XP certificate client may still enroll for a certificate using the version 2 template.

For more information on these changes, see Certificate Template Versions and Options

AD CS in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 allow for a certificate to be configured so that it will be renewed with the same key. This allows the same assurance level of the original key to be maintained throughout its lifecycle. Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 supports generating Trusted Platform Module (TPM)-protected keys using TPM-based key storage providers (KSPs). The benefit of using TPM-based KSP is true non-exportability of keys backed up by the anti-hammering mechanism of TPMs. Administrators can configure certificate templates so that Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 to give higher priority to TPM-based KSPs for generating keys. Also, using renewal with the same key, administrators can remain assured that the key still remains on TPM after renewal.

noteNote
Entering the personal identification number (PIN) incorrectly too many times activates the anti-hammering logic of the TPM. Anti-hammering logic is software or hardware methods that increase the difficulty and cost of a brute force attack on a PIN by not accepting PIN entries until after a certain amount of time has passed.

What value does this change add?

This feature allows an administrator to enforce renewal with the same key, which can reduce administrative costs (when keys are renewed automatically) and increase key security (when keys are stored using TPM-based KSPs).

What works differently?

Clients that receive certificates from templates that are configured for renewal with the same key must renew their certificates using the same key, or renewal will fail. Also, this option is available only for Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 certificate clients.

noteNote
If Renew with the same key is enabled on a certificate template and later key archival (Archive subject's encryption private key) is also enabled, renewed certificates will not be archived. To learn more about this situation and mitigation for it, see Key Archival and renew with the same key.

Internationalized names are names that contain characters that cannot be represented in ASCII. AD CS in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 supports Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) in several scenarios.

What value does this change add?

The following IDN scenarios are now supported

  • Certificate enrollment for computers using IDNs

  • Generating and submitting a certificate request with an IDN using the certreq.exe command line tool

  • Publishing Certificate Revocation Lists (CRLs) and Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) publishing to servers using IDNs

  • The Certificate user interface supports IDNs

  • The Certificate MMC snap-in also allows for IDNs in Certificate Properties

What works differently?

There is limited support for IDNs as previously described.

When a certificate request is received by a certification authority (CA), encryption for the request can be enforced by the CA via the RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_PKT, as described in MSDN article Authentication-Level Constants. On Windows Server 2008 R2 and earlier versions, this setting is not enabled by default on the CA. On a Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 CA, this enhanced security setting is enabled by default.

What value does this change add?

The CA enforces enhanced security in the requests that are sent to it. This higher security level requires that the packets requesting a certificate are encrypted, so they cannot be intercepted and read. Without this setting enabled, anyone with access to the network can read packets sent to and from the CA using a network analyzer. This means that information could be exposed that might be considered a privacy violation, such as the names of requesting users or machines, the types of certificates for which they are enrolling, the public keys involved, and so on. Within a forest or domain, leaking these data may not be a concern for most organizations. However, if attackers gain access to the network traffic, internal company structure and activity could be gleaned, which could be used for more targeted social engineering or phishing attacks.

The commands to enable the enhanced security level of RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_PKT on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2008 R2 certification authorities are:

certutil -setreg CA\InterfaceFlags +IF_ENFORCEENCRYPTICERTREQUEST
To restart the certification authority:
net stop certsvc
net start certsvc

If you still have Windows XP client computers that need to request certificates from a CA that has the setting enabled, you have two options:

  1. Upgrade the Windows XP clients to a newer operating system.

  2. Lower the security of the CA by running the following commands:

    1. certutil -setreg CA\InterfaceFlags -IF_ENFORCEENCRYPTICERTREQUEST

    2. net stop certsvc

    3. net start certsvc

What works differently?

Windows XP clients will not be compatible with this higher security setting enabled by default on a Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 CA. If necessary, you can lower the security setting as previously described.

Certificate services in Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 can be configured to utilize Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) sites to help optimize certificate services client requests. This functionality is not enabled by default on either certification authority (CA) or the public key infrastructure (PKI) client computers.

noteNote
For information on enabling AD DS Site Awareness, see TechNet Wiki article AD DS Site Awareness for AD CS and PKI Clients.

What value does this change add?

This change enables Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 certificate clients to locate a CA in their local AD DS site.

What works differently?

When enrolling for a template-based certificate, the client queries AD DS for the template and the CA objects. The client then uses a DsGetSiteName function call to get its own site name. For CAs with the msPKI-Site-Name attribute already set, the certificate services client determine the AD DS site link cost from the client site to each target CA site. A DsQuerySitesByCost function call is used to make this determination. The certificate services client uses the returned site costs to prioritize the CAs that allow the client the Enroll permission and support the relevant certificate template. The higher cost CAs are tried to be contacted last (only if former CAs are unavailable).

noteNote
A CA may return no site cost if the msPKI-Site-Name attribute is not set on the CA. If no site cost is available for an individual CA, then the highest possible cost is assigned to that CA.

Previously, a PKCS#12 standard (also known as PFX) format was only protected by a password that had the following limitations:

  • Difficult to automate

  • Not very secure, because usually an administrator used a weak password

  • Difficult to share among multiple users

Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 can protect certificates and associated private keys by combining an existing PFX format with a new data protection feature. This allows encrypting the contents of the PFX file with a key that belongs to a group or to an individual, instead of protecting it with a password.

noteNote

What value does this change add?

By using this feature, administrators will be able to:

  • Deploy, manage, and troubleshoot certificates remotely and across server farms by using Windows PowerShell.

  • Share certificates and keys securely across server farms running Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 by using Windows APIs.

Earlier versions of Windows can consume this PFX because internally the operating system assigns a strong random password. The password is included in the PFX, and it is protected by a set of security identifiers (SIDs) with data protection APIs. Any user that has access to the PFX can see that password and share it with previous Windows versions.

What works differently?

A PFX file can now be protected to a security principal instead of just a password. The user interface for certificate export has been updated to allow for the selection of a security principal during export.

In Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2, certificates provide life cycle notifications in MY store from the certificate enrollment API and Windows PowerShell levels. The notifications include expiration, deletion, new, renewal, replacement, close to expiration, archive, and export. Administrators and developers can manage (view, install, copy, request, and delete) certificates and their associated private keys remotely by using Windows PowerShell. This feature allows a script or an executable to launch in response to a certificate lifecycle notification.

noteNote

What value does this change add?

For an application and server-workload developers who use certificates in their product, integrating with the certificate life cycle in Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 is easy and reliable, and it can be done remotely. Developers can develop applications that reconfigure themselves any time a certificate is renewed or replaced with another certificate—by autoenrollment or by a manual or scripted action by an administrator. The investment needed to integrate with the certificate management interfaces is very small.

For an administrator who manages applications that use certificates, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 certificates are used by those applications automatically. This occurs because applications integrate with Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 certificate notifications or when the administrator’s script is triggered by a certificate event.

What works differently?

Notifications can now be enabled to alert system administrators before certificates expire.

Windows Server Backup feature can be installed on the certification authority (CA) to create a System State Backup that includes the CA private keys.

What works differently?

In Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 the System State Backup feature automatically backs up the CAs private key when an administrator or backup operator uses Windows Server Backup feature to perform a System State Backup.

What works differently?

The Windows Server Backup feature now includes the CA private keys.

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