How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

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Hello Again,

Today we will see how to install Root Certificate Authority on a Windows Server 2012 machine. In my previous post, I wrote about the different components of the Active Directory Certificate Services that are available during the installation process.

You can also check out the basics of Public Key Infrastructure here.

Also note that in our demonstration, the Root CA will not be part of the domain.

This guide will have two parts. The first one will be Installation and Configuration of Root Certificate Authority and the second one will be the post configuration settings.

Installation of Root certificate Authority

Open Server Manger, click on Add Roles and Features from the dashboard.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Next select the Role based or feature based installation and click Next.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

On the next page, select the local server and click on Next.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

On the Next page, select the Active Directory Certificate services and click Next, also you will get a confirmation to Add the required features, select Add Features and move next.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

On the next page you will asked for installing the Role Services. In our demonstration, we will just be selecting Certificate Authority.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Now you can move ahead by clicking the install button and the Role will be installed on the server.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Configuration of Root certificate Authority

Now that we are finished with the installation of the Root CA, we will have to do the basic configuration of the Certificate Authority so that we can start issuing certificates to the subordibate CA’s or clients.

Click on AD CS on the left hand side of the Server Manager screen and click on More as shown in the figure.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Now click on the Configuration option.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Specify the Administrator account that will be used to configure. in our demonstration, we will use local admin account of the machine.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Select the Services that we are configuring, in our case we have only one, select Certificate Authority and click Next.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Next you will be asked to select the type of CA, since we are not connected to the domain, the Enterprise CA option is automatically greyed out. So we will select Standalone CA.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Next we want to select the Root CA.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

In the next step, we will create a New Private Key. You can import the Old private in case your old Root CA has crashed or something like that.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

We will select the defaults in the next page for the cryptographic provider, Key length as 2048, and hash algorithm as SHA1 as these are compatible with most devices.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Next we will specify the name of the Root CA.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

On the next page, we want to select the Validity period. We will setting it 10 years and not the dedault 5 years as it is very common for the Root CA to have such a high value.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Next page, we will leave the Database and Database log locations as default.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Now you will be presented with the summary page with all the selections that you made. Click on Configure.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

You will mow be presented with the confirmation page.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

View the certficate

Now that we are done with the configuration as well, let us see the certificate that the Root CA generated. Click on Tools from the Server Manager and select Certification Authority.

On the new window, select the server and right click to select Properties.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Now click on View certificate on the General tab.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

As you can see below that the certificate is self signed and is valid for 10 years as we specified during the configuration. You will be able to see the other configuration settings in the details tab. Feel free to explore.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Post Configuration settings

The following commands needs to be run in order to finish the configuration of the Root CA and should be run before any certificates are created.

This command configures the domain that will be embedded in each certificate that is created by the Root CA.

Certutil-setreg CA\DSConfigDN CN=Configuration,DC=enterprisedaddy,DC=com

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

These two commands configure the time period that certificates issued from the Root CA will be valid. In this case, they are set to 5 years, half the time period of the root CA. This setting should be at least half of the root CA.

Certutil -setreg CA\ValidityPeriodUnits 5
Certutil -setreg CA\ValidityPeriod "Years"

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

These two commands determine how long a CRL (Certificate Revocation List) is valid from. In this case this means that after 52 weeks the CRL will be recreated rather than being updated.

Certutil-setreg CA\CRLPeriodUnits 52
Certutil-setreg CA\CRLPeriod "Weeks"

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

These two setting determine the overlap period for CRL’s.

Certutil-setreg CA\CRLOverlapPeriodUnits 12
Certutil-setreg CA\CRLOverlapPeriod "Hours"

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Publishing the CRL and finalising the root CA set up

For this step you need to go to the properties of the Root CA and click on the Extensions tab. You will now have to add the AIA and CRL points for the Subordinate CA.

First we will add the Authority information Access details. Select Extension and click on Add.

Type the name of the SubCA, in our case it will be http://ED-SUBCA.enterprisedaddy.com and click on Insert. The final value should look like below:

http://ED-SUBCA.enterprisedaddy.com/certdata/<ServerDNSName><CaName><CertificateName>

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Next we will add the CRL point for the SubCA.

Like done previously, you will have to select the CRL distribution point from the extensions and final value should like the below. Do not forget to add .crl extension at the end.

And also be sure check the first two options as seen below.

http://ED-SUBCA.enterprisedaddy.com/certdata/<CaName><CRLNameSuffix><DeltaCRLAllowed>.crl

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

Click on OK next, it will prompt a message asking you to start the Active Directory Certificate Services. Click on Yes.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

By doing this step, we have made the Root CA aware of the Sub CA.

Next we will be publishing the Revocation list. To do so, we need go to the Revoked certificates and Right Click > All Tasks > Publish.

How to install Root Certificate Authority on Windows Server 2012

A pop comes up, select New CRL as this is the first one that we are publishing and click on OK.

That’s it! You have now successfully configured the Root CA to issue the certificates. In the next article, we will see how to Install and configure Enterprise Sub-ordinate CA.

I hope this was informative and thank you reading!

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About Author

I am Adil Arif, working as a Senior Technical Support Engineer at Rubrik as well as an independent blogger and founder of Enterprise Daddy. In my current role, I am supporting infrastructure related to Windows and VMware datacenters.

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