2.6. Red Hat Certificate System Services

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Certificate System has a number of different features for administrators to use which makes it easier to maintain the individual subsystems and the PKI as a whole.

2.6.1. Notifications

When a particular event occurs, such as when a certificate is issued or revoked, then a notification can be sent directly to a specified email address. The notification framework comes with default modules that can be enabled and configured.

2.6.2. Jobs

Automated jobs run at defined intervals.

2.6.3. Logging

The Certificate System and each subsystem produce extensive system and error logs that record system events so that the systems can be monitored and debugged. All log records are stored in the local file system for quick retrieval. Logs are configurable, so logs can be created for specific types of events and at the required logging level.
Certificate System allows logs to be signed digitally before archiving them or distributing them for auditing. This feature enables log files to be checked for tampering after being signed.

2.6.4. Auditing

The Certificate System maintains audit logs for all events, such as requesting, issuing and revoking certificates and publishing CRLs. These logs are then signed. This allows authorized access or activity to be detected. An outside auditor can then audit the system if required. The assigned auditor user account is the only account which can view the signed audit logs. This user's certificate is used to sign and encrypt the logs. Audit logging is configured to specify the events that are logged.

2.6.5. Self-Tests

The Certificate System provides the framework for system self-tests that are automatically run at startup and can be run on demand. A set of configurable self-tests are already included with the Certificate System.

2.6.6. Users, Authorization, and Access Controls

Certificate System users can be assigned to groups, which are also known as roles, and they then have the privileges of whichever group they are members. A user only has privileges for the instance of the subsystem in which the user is created and the privileges of the group to which the user is a member.
Authentication is the means that Certificate System subsystems use to verify the identity of clients, whether they are authenticating to a certificate profile or to one of the services interfaces. There are a number of different ways for a client to perform authentication, including simple user name/password, SSL/TLS client authentication, LDAP authentication, NIS authentication, or CMC. Authentication can be performed for any access to the subsystem; for certificate enrollments, for example, the profile defines how the requestor authenticates to the CA.
Once the client is identified and authenticated, then the subsystems perform an authorization check to determine what level of access to the subsystem that particular user is allowed.
Authorization is tied to group, or role, permissions, rather than directly to individual users. The Certificate System provides an authorization framework for creating groups and assigning access control to those groups. The default access control on preexisting groups can be modified, and access control can be assigned to individual users and IP addresses. Access points for authorization have been created for the major portions of the system, and access control rules can be set for each point. Default Administrative Roles


Red Hat Certificate System uses the words roles and groups interchangeably in the context of the permissions given to users.
The Certificate System is configured by default with three user types with different access levels to the system:
  • Administrators, who can perform any administrative or configuration task for a subsystem.
  • Agents, who perform PKI management tasks, like approving certificate requests, managing token enrollments, or recovering keys.
  • Auditors, who can view and configure audit logs.


By default, for bootstrapping purposes, an administrative user processing both Administrator and Agent privileges is created during the Red Hat Certificate System instance creation, when running the pkispawn utility. This bootstrap administrator uses the caadmin user name by default but can be overridden by the pki_admin_uid parameter in the configuration file passed to the pkispawn command. The purpose of the bootstrap administrator is to create the first administrator and agent user. This operation requires the administrator privilege to mange user and groups, and the agent privilege to issue certificates. Built-in Subsystem Trust Roles

Additionally, when a security domain is created, the CA subsystem which hosts the domain is automatically granted the special role of Security Domain Administrator, which gives the subsystem the ability to manage the security domain and the subsystem instances within it. Other security domain administrator roles can be created for the different subsystem instances. These special roles should not have actual users as members.
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