Part II: Establishing a PKI in .NET framework

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Part II: Establishing a PKI
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Warning Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, allows you to enforce the Common Criteria roles through role separation. With role separation enabled, a user can hold only one of four roles. Individual users who hold two or more of these roles are blocked from all PKI-management activities.
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Minimizing Risk of CA Failure
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Your PKI hierarchy design can include measures to prevent the failure of Certificate Services, such as defining hardware specifications that prevent common forms of failure. For example, you can ensure that the CA database s disk partition is on a RAID 5 or RAID 0+1 disk array to ensure the best performance and recoverability in the event of disk failure. Likewise, the CA log files can be placed on a RAID 1 mirror set to protect against disk failure. You can also ensure that disk partitions are large enough to store the volume of certificates for the expected certificate enrollment activity. Hardware requirements are less demanding for an offline CA than for an online issuing CA. For example, Figure 5-7 shows two disk configurations that can be used to provide recoverability yet minimize the costs spent on hard disks for the offline CA.
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C: C: D: C: D:
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C: Operating System D: CA Database and Logs
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C: Operating System D: CA Database and Logs
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Figure 5-7
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Disk configuration recommendations for offline CAs
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In the left configuration, separate mirror sets are implemented for the operating system and the CA database and logs. This configuration separates all CA data from the operating system volume. In the right configuration, one mirror set is installed at the offline CA with two partitions. The C partition is dedicated to the operating system, and the D partition is dedicated to the CA database and logs.
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5:
Designing a Certification Authority Hierarchy
Note The decision to use one or the other of these two configurations is often based on the number of disks supported by the server that hosts the offline CA or an organization s requirements for installing the operating sys tem on a dedicated partition separate from application data such as the Certificate Services database and log files.
For an online CA, the disk activity performed by Certificate Services is far greater than that of an offline CA when it is turned on. It is recommended that a combination of RAID 1 mirrors and RAID 5 or RAID 0+1 volumes be used to store Certificate Services data. (See Figure 5-8.)
E: D: D:
E: E: E: E:
C: Operating System D: CA Log Files E: CA Database
C: Operating System D: CA Log Files E: CA Database
Figure 5-8
Disk configuration recommendations for an online CA
On the left side, the disk configuration is shown using RAID 1 mirror sets for the C drive for the operating system and for the D drive for the CA database log files. The CA database is stored on a RAID 5 stripe set with parity. This configuration provides good performance for reading data from the CA database. On the right side, the disk configuration is shown using the same RAID 1 mirror sets for the operating system and for CA database log files. In this example, a RAID 0+1 set is used for the CA database. RAID 0+1 mirrors two RAID 0 stripe sets. RAID 0+1 provides higher input/output rates than RAID 5 and is often selected by organizations that foresee large volumes of certificate enrollment traffic on the CA database.
Part II: Establishing a PKI
Determining Certificate Validity Periods
A certificate has a predefined validity period that comprises a start date and time and an end date and time. An issued certificate s validity period cannot be changed after certificate issuance. Determining the validity period at each tier of the CA hierarchy, including the validity period of the certificates issued to users, computers, services, or network devices, is a primary step when defining a CA hierarchy. The recommended strategy for determining certificate validity periods is to start with the certificates issued to users, computers, services, or network devices by issuing CAs. The main point to remember is that a CA should not issue a certificate that exceeds the remaining lifetime on the CA certificate. Although allowed by the standards, this scenario can lead to certificates with remaining validity periods to expire when the issuing CA s certificate expires. You should ensure that the CA has enough remaining lifetime on its certificate to issue certificates with the required validity periods. A good rule of thumb is to make the CA certificate validity period at least twice as long as the maximum validity period of any CA-issued certificates. Figure 5-9 shows an example of a two-tier CA hierarchy that issues certificates with a maximum validity period of five years.
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