Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Certificate errors on terminal servers/Missing certificates

This was a particularly annoying problem which we were having on a Server 2008 R2/Xen App 6.5 environment, but I don't think this would be limited to Server 2008 R2 or Citrix.

Basically users were frequently getting non trusted certificate errors on some fairly mainstream websites which when tested on a desktop PC or server out of the Citrix environment, worked fine. 

When you loaded the trusted root certificate authority, either via Internet explorer, or via MMC/local machine certificates, there were less trusted root certificates present when compared to the desktop PC, or another server, out of the Citrix farm.  The Citrix servers were fully patched using windows update.

After investigating the way Internet trusted root certificate authorities work, I discovered that the normal process is that when an HTTPS site loads which is trusted by a certificate not in the trusted root certificate store, it will look to windows update to see if the root certificate is on Microsoft's trusted root certificate list, and if it is, it will auto-import it directly, not via a WSUS/Windows Update installation.

I then researched the group policy option which enables/disables Auto Root Certificate Update, and found this to be located in:

Computer Configuration\Adminisrative Templates\System\Internet Communication Management\Internet Communication Settings

The setting is called - Turn Off Automatic Root Certificate Update.

I ran a group policy results wizard for a standard user account to track down the GPO which was feeding this setting and found it to be enabled.

Once I disabled the setting, and ran a gpupdate /force on the servers, I opened the computer certificate MMC and opened up the Trusted Root Certificate store, noted down the number of certificates and  browsed to the previously problematic sites.  This time round they loaded up fine, and I noticed an extra certificate had been loaded into the Trusted Root Certificate Store.

Problem Solved.

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