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Install a stand-alone root certification authority

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

To install a stand-alone root certification authority

  1. Log on to the system as an Administrator, or if you have the Active Directory directory service, log on to the system as a Domain Administrator.

  2. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.

  3. Double-click Add or Remove Programs and then click Add/Remove Windows Components.

  4. In the Windows Components Wizard, select the Certificate Services check box. A dialog box appears to inform you that the computer cannot be renamed and that the computer cannot be joined to or removed from a domain after Certificate Services is installed. Click Yes, and then click Next.

  5. Click Stand-alone root CA.

  6. (Optional) Select the Use custom settings to generate the key pair and CA certificate check box, and then click Next to specify the following.

     

    To set this Do this

    Cryptographic service provider (CSP)

    In CSP, click the CSP that you want to use. The default is the Microsoft Strong Cryptographic Provider. Certificate Services does support third party CSPs, but you must refer to the CSP vendor's documentation for information about using their CSP with Certificate Services.

    Hash algorithm

    In Hash algorithm, click the hash algorithm you want to use. The default is SHA-1.

    Use an existing key

    Select the Use existing key check box, click Import, and then, in Open PFX File, type the file name and password of the public and private key pair. This is helpful if you are relocating or restoring a previously installed certification authority (CA). Note that, when using an existing key, a new certificate is generated.

    Important

    • Be sure that you select an existing key that you know to be uncompromised and trustworthy. Using a key that may be compromised or untrusted could cause this CA and all its issued certificates to be insecure.

    Key length

    In Key length, type or select a key length. The default key length using the Microsoft Strong Cryptographic Provider is 2048 bits. Default key lengths for other CSPs vary. In general, the longer the key length, the more secure the key is. Also, longer key lengths require more system resources for operations such as signing, encryption, and chain verification. For a root CA, you should use a key length of at least 2048 bits. This option is not available if you use existing keys.

    Allow this CSP to interact with the desktop

    Select the Allow this CSP to interact with the desktop check box. Without this option, system services cannot interact with the desktop of the user who is currently logged on.

    Import

    Click Import. This imports an existing key in the PKCS #12 PFX format.

    View certificate

    Click View certificate. This allows you to view the certificate that you select or generate during installation.

    When you are done, click Next.

  7. Type the common name of the certification authority. None of this information can be changed after the CA setup is complete.

  8. In Validity period, specify the validity duration for the root CA. See the note below about considerations when setting this value. Click Next.

  9. Specify the storage locations of the certificate database, the certificate database log, and the shared folder. Click Next.

  10. If Internet Information Services (IIS) is running, you will receive a request to stop the service before proceeding with the installation. Click OK.

  11. If prompted, type the path to the Certificate Services installation files.

Notes

  • To open a Control Panel item, click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click the appropriate icon.

  • If Active Directory is available and you have Write permission to Active Directory, then specifying the shared folder is optional.

  • If Active Server Pages are not enabled through Internet Information Services, you will be prompted to activate them. The Web interface for the certification authority requires running Active Server Pages.

  • The validity duration you choose for the CA will determine when the CA "expires." For information about renewing CAs, see Related Topics.

  • To open Add/Remove Windows Components, click Start, click Control Panel, double-click Add or Remove programs, and then click Add/Remove Windows Components.

  • For more information on any installation settings, see Related Topics.

Information about functional differences

  • Your server might function differently based on the version and edition of the operating system that is installed, your account permissions, and your menu settings. For more information, see Viewing Help on the Web.

See Also

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