• Do you need your own private Certificate Authority?

        Mar 29 2018, 10:28 PM

        by Elliot Samuels 3

        Do you have any intranet sites with a domain name like https://intranet.local? Or a mail server with an address like https://mail? These kind of internal-only domain names are very common but they pose a real problem.

        SSL certificates on an intranet

        Symantec and other Certification Authorities (CAs) and browser vendors, that make up the CA/Browser Forum have decided to stop issuing SSL certificates chained to a public root which cannot be resolved in the context of the public internet.

        This means that domain names need to be globally unique and not just unique on your network. So if you have a .local domain that you use internally, you will soon no longer be able to purchase a validated SSL certificate for this name.

        With the emergence of new gTLDs, such as .london, and the likelihood that many of the very common names used to identify server domains internally will be purchased and used by commercial organisations (names such as .red and .home have already been applied for and more will surely follow and unless you specifically own these gTLDs you will no longer be able to purchase a validated SSL certificate for them).

        Although this will improve security it creates challenges for organisations with servers that use these internal-only domain names or reserved IP addresses.

        Getting ready for the change

        Alternatives include switching to fully-qualified domain names, using self-signed certificates or setting up a private certification authority (CA) to authenticate internal domain names.

        For many companies, this last option – a private CA – is a smart way to get ready for the changeover as it requires the least change to existing systems and the lowest level of risk.

        The Symantec option

        Symantec recently announced its Private Certification Authority solution. It lets you avoid the risks and hidden costs of self-signed certificates and the switching costs of deploying fully-qualified internet domain names across your entire intranet.

        Private CA.png

        Using Symantec’s bulletproof infrastructure, it covers requirements ranging from single-domain intranet SSL certificates, wildcard certificates up to self-signed CAs. It provides a hosted private SSL certificate hierarchy with end-entity certificates specifically built to secure your internal communications.

        Using the Managed PKI for SSL console assists in simplifying SSL management by letting you manage public and private certificates in one control center.  This helps you avoid the risk of unexpected expiries and issue new certificates as required. So if you have internal servers that use deprecated domain names then you need to consider a solution sooner rather than later.

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