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Active Directory Certificate Services: Why Do I Need Them? 

Many organizations and individuals use Windows Server to form a firm base for the IT infrastructure. In addition, most of them have adopted the use of Public Key Infrastructure to enhance the security of their websites, digital signatures documents, and encrypting emails. However, directory Certificate Services can be integrated into the public key infrastructure to ensure robust functionality. Directory Certificates services are incorporated with numerous components that allow certificate-based networks to run smoothly.  

They ensure you have created a trusted server and certificate authorities where you can enroll and verify users and regulate the life cycle of certificates. With many organizations using public key infrastructure, integration of directory certificates will ensure a robust foundation and security of all organization websites and communications channels. 



What is Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS)? 

Active Directory Certificate Services is the domain that helps you create public key infrastructure and provide digital certificates, public-key cryptography, and e-signatures capabilities. However, if you have dabbled in public key infrastructure, you may not need active directory certificates to derive the certificate authority.  

Though there are many other ways to derive and create digital certificates, such as buying from a certificate authority or signing and installing them manually from specific websites, directory certificate services do more. Directory certificate allows you to disseminate certificates in large numbers from a certificate authority, especially for organizations with many employees. 

Since the directory certificate services provide the windows domain network services, the active directory domain forms the foundation of every functional directory performance. Active directory certificate services store data about users, groups, and computers within a domain but ensure that all credentials are verified and set access rights. Active directory certificate services best practices ensure that all the members’ information is well recorded and stored.  

Active directory domain services are virtual directories that ensure that the registered data are anchored by variant active directory services such as active directory certificate services. 


Components of active directory certificate service 

Active directory certificate service is one of the best components and solutions for Public Key Infrastructure. Active directory certificate service has the following components. 


A certificate authority (CA)  

A certificate authority is responsible for storing, managing, and revoking digital certificates. Public key infrastructure can have several certificate authorities. A certificate authority is divided into two, which help create and identify public key infrastructure.   


Root certificate authority 

The root certificate authority is a crucial and trusted part of public key infrastructure. The root certificate authority should be secure and protected from compromise, as any compromise may jeopardize the entire public key infrastructure. A root certificate authority is responsible for providing certificates for any object or service in the public key objective. 


Subordinate Certificate authority  

A subordinate certificate authority is the crucial component of certificate authority responsible for storing, managing, and revoking certificates for any object or service in the public key infrastructure. Public key infrastructure can contain numerous subordinate certificate authority servers. However, each subordinate server should have a certificate derived from the root certificate authority. 


Certificate enrollment web service  

Certificate enrollment web service is a crucial component that allows computers, services, or users to apply for certificates or renew them via a web browser. Users can apply or renew certificates even if the web is not domain-joined or temporarily out of the corporate network. If the web is domain-joined and active in the corporate network, you can use auto enrollments to request and retrieve certificates. 

Certificate Authority Web Enrollment  

Users can use certificate web enrollment to request certificates using the web interface. With a web interface, users can easily download the root certificates authority, which they can use to verify all digital certificates. In addition, users can use the web interface to request a certificate revocation list, including all expired certificates and those revoked in Public key infrastructure. 


Why you need directory certificate services 


To Pull from Active Directory  

Using the current user’s identity information, you can register digital certificates, which helps you avoid double registration. All the users in your active directory can automatically have their data keyed in the domain. 


Help in Leveraging Existing Group Policy  

Using directory certificate services, you can configure all the active directory group policies to regulate users and machines allowed to use a specific type of certificate. Such functionality will enable you to implement attribute or role-based access control. 


Helps in silent installation  

The insertion process is usually automated, and hence it doesn’t need any end technical intervention. Using Public key infrastructure can be difficult if there is no form of automation. 


Ensure automation of certificates provisioning and lifecycle management  

Active directory certificate service receives a request for users who come online for the first time. It will then verify the type of certificate the user has accessed depending on the group policy. Depending on the request results, the active directory will send the user the appropriate certificate and install them. The certificate is automated to renew anytime you like, allowing you to eliminate the worry of short-lived certificates. 


Wrapping up

In conclusion, you can integrate public key infrastructure with active directory certificate services to create a digital certificate, store them, and dispense them to all governed domains or devices. In addition, if you are running an organization on the Microsoft ecosystem, Microsoft authority can help you leverage the active directory and disseminate certificates to all your web-connected devices depending on group policies. There are many ways you can benefit from the active directory certificates services as mentioned above. 

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