Windows Certificate Enrollment Protocols

Windows has two sets of certificate enrollment protocols; these protocols are used to enable a client to acquire and maintain certificates with little to no manual interaction.

The first implementation of certificate enrollment in Windows was introduced with Windows XP, it was was based on DCOM; this DCOM dependency limited where you could deploy it. The solution could never be practically or securely could be used over the internet and in segmented corporate networks it in essence required each island of trust to deploy their own certificate authority which was both costly and impractical.

The second implementation was introduced in Windows 7, it is based on SOAP based web services and has two core APIs one for determining what certificates a client should enroll for and another for acquiring those certificates. This newer approach addresses the security and deployability concerns of its predecessor and enables the deployment of CA as a pure Software As A Services (SAAS) solution.

Normally I don’t write about GlobalSign products here but when we decided how we would build our own solution in this space we decided the security and deployment limitations of the DCOM approach were too limiting to enable our goals of reducing TCO and enabling broader use of certificates so we went with the more flexible and secure approach.

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