Friday, December 19, 2014

Improved crypto token configuration and re-keying in SignServer 3.6

SignServer 3.6 brings great improvements in both crypto token configuration and management. There is now the advantage of single crypto token configuration and, related to this, re-keying has become far more convenient.

Single crypto token configuration

As crypto token configuration in SignServer 3.6 is now done in a single spot, management has become significantly simpler.

In previous versions, the necessity to configure keystores (soft or PKCS#11) in each worker resulted in duplicated configuration. The repetitive steps couldn't be avoided even when all workers shared the same keystore or HSM slot.

From version 3.6 there is separation between worker and crypto token configuration, which eliminates duplicate configuration entirely. You simply set up a single crypto worker (a special type of worker). Other workers, using key-pairs in the same keystore or HSM slot, will then point to the singly configured crypto worker.

One crypto token and multiple workers

Crypto token referenced from another worker

Rekeying without production stop

Achieving rekeying without production stop used to be a bit of a hassle. Special care had to be taken to ensure that at least one signer was available to handle emerging requests.

To everyone's satisfaction rekeying has improved as of version 3.6. Crypto workers now stay active as the keying process does not change the configuration of the crypto token. Entirely superfluous, special measures to avoid production halt are now history.

In practice, the process of rekeying (generating a new key-pair and getting a new certificate for it)  always has to be done before the signer's certificate expires. In the Admin GUI every operation is accessed in the tool bar, from the corresponding buttons (screen shot below) which basically follow these five steps:
  1. Activate the worker
  2. Renew the key-pair
  3. Test the key-pair
  4. Generate CSR
  5. Install certificates

AdminGUI toolbar

Step 2 previously put the worker in an off-line state but with the new crypto worker configuration this is not the case, and it can thus stay active at all times, greatly facilitating re-keying in production.

Trying it out

Let's configure a PDF signer which uses keys provided by a crypto worker.

Set up a new crypto worker configuration by copying the sample config file:
$ cp doc/sample-configs/ \

Edit by changing the keystore path to point to the sample keystore provided:

Apply the configuration (replace WORKERID with ID printed):
$ bin/signserver setproperties
$ bin/signserver reload WORKERID

Activate the crypto token in the crypto worker (password is "foo123"):
$ bin/signserver activatecryptotoken CryptoTokenP12

Set up a new PDF signer using your newly activated crypto worker:
$ cp doc/sample-configs/\

Set to point to the crypto worker:

Apply the configuration (replace WORKERID with ID printed):
$ bin/signserver setproperties
$ bin/signserver reload WORKERID

View the status of the workers:
$ bin/signserver getstatus brief all
Current version of server is : SignServer CE 3.6.2

Status of CryptoWorker with id 1 (CryptoTokenP12) is:
   Worker status : Active
   Token status  : Active

Status of Signer with id 2 (PDFSigner) is:
   Worker status : Active
   Token status  : Active
   Signings      : 0

You can also get more information by writing "complete" instead of "brief" or by using the Admin GUI:
$ bin/signserver-gui

More information

Basic information on SignServer Enterprise is available here. For entire documentation, see