Does Nginx allow to specify multiple root certificates for client certificate verification?

Maxim Dounin mdounin at
Tue Jul 31 16:48:20 UTC 2012


On Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 11:21:26AM -0400, ffeldhaus wrote:

> Hi,
> Maxim Dounin Wrote:
> >
> > Hello!
> > 
> > On Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 05:43:31AM -0400,
> > ffeldhaus wrote:
> > 
> > > For a project as part of the European Grid
> > Infrastructure (EGI) we need
> > > SSL client certificate verification for a
> > service running on nginx. As
> > > there are several root CAs allowed within EGI,
> > we need nginx to check
> > > them all during client certificate validation.
> > In the documentation of
> > > nginx I could only find the parameter
> > ssl_client_certificate which
> > > allows to specify just one file containing a
> > root certificate.
> > > 
> > > Is there a way to specify more than one root CA
> > for client certificate
> > > verification in nginx or do I have to use Apache
> > for this?
> > 
> > Yes.  Just put multiple root CA certificates into
> > a file specified 
> > in the ssl_client_certificate directive.
> > 
> > Note the docs explicitly say "certificates"
> > (plural), see 
> >
> I had hoped there would be another way. Putting the currently 105
> certificates in one file may work, but the problem is, that the
> certificates may change and with 105 CA certificates at the moment the
> chance that a certificate is updated/revoked is not negligible anymore.

If CA certificate is updated/revoked it probably needs some double 
checking by a human anyway.  Updating the file and asking nginx to 
reload it's config isn't going to be a big deal then.

> I could write a cron job to update the single certificate file after
> each update, but it would be much easier if nginx would support multiple
> CA certificate files out of the box. For Apache there is a directive
> called SSLCACertificatePath to do just this. Do you think this could be
> a feature worth implementing in Nginx? If so, how could I help?

"Certificate file" vs "certificate path" difference isn't about 
running something after updates of certificates or not (in both 
cases you have to update something, either cat to a single file or 
the c_rehash script to create symbolic links in case of CApath).
The difference is about certificates in memory vs. certficates on 
disk, and the later implies syscalls and disk access on each 
certificate check.

As nginx is designed to work under high loads, with many requests 
(and handshakes) per second, it uses CAfile variant.  And as nginx 
configuration reload is seamless, it's unlikely the CApath variant 
will add any extra value.

Maxim Dounin

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