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Altova MapForce Server 2020 Advanced Edition

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Digital Certificate Management

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Digital certificate management is an integral part of secure data exchange between a client computer and a Web server. Since mappings can be executed not only on Windows by MapForce, but also on a Windows, Linux or macOS server by MapForce Server (either standalone or in FlowForce Server execution), this section deals with managing HTTPS certificates on various platforms.

 

In the context of secure HyperText Transport Protocol (HTTPS), it is important to distinguish between server and client certificates.

 

Server certificates

A server certificate is what identifies a server as a trusted entity to a client application such as MapForce. The server certificate may be digitally signed by a commercial Certificate Authority, or it may be self-signed by your organization. In either case, while designing the mapping in MapForce, you can specify the following settings:

 

Whether the server certificate must be checked.

Whether the request must proceed if a mismatch has been detected between the name certificate and the name of the host.

 

These settings are available on the HTTP Security Settings dialog box of MapForce. When you enable server certificate checks, consider the following:

 

If you are calling a Web server whose certificate is signed by a trusted Certificate Authority, your operating system will likely be already configured to trust the server certificate, and no additional configuration is necessary.

If you are calling a Web server which provides a self-signed certificate (for example, a local network server within your organization), you will need to configure your operating system as well to trust that certificate.

 

In most cases, you can check the level of trust between your operating system and the Web server by typing the URL of the Web service in the browser's address bar. If the server is not trusted, or if your operating system is not configured to trust the server, your browser will display a message such as "This connection is untrusted", or "There is a problem with this website's certificate". Note that you cannot use the browser to check the level of trust with a Web server if the browser uses a certificate database other than that of the operating system (for example, Firefox 35.0.1 on Ubuntu 14.04).

 

On Windows, you can establish trust with the server by following the browser's instructions and importing or installing the required certificates into your system's Trusted Root Authorities store (see Trusting Server Certificates on Windows). On macOS, you can do the equivalent operation in Keychain Access (see Trusting Server Certificates on macOS). For instructions applicable to Linux, see Trusting Server Certificates on Linux.

 

Client certificates

While server certificates are used to identify a server as a trusted entity, client certificates are primarily used to authenticate the caller against the Web server. If you intend to call a Web server which requires client certificates, you may need to contact the administrator of the Web server for the client configuration instructions. Taking IIS (Internet Information Services) as an example, the Web server may be configured to handle HTTPS and client certificates in one of the following ways:

 

Require HTTPS and ignore client certificate

Require HTTPS and accept client certificate

Require HTTPS and require client certificate

 

The success or failure of the Web service request depends both on the configuration of the Web server and the client application. For example, if the Web server is configured to require a client certificate, then, for the call to be successful, the calling application must present a valid client certificate.

 

From a MapForce perspective, the same is true for mappings which include Web service calls through HTTPS. In particular, to run such mappings successfully, it is assumed that the Web server has been configured to accept or require the client certificate, and that the operating system where the mapping runs provides the correct client certificate to the Web server.

 

The diagram below illustrates a scenario where a client certificate used in MapForce is transferred to a Linux server running MapForce Server. Once the certificate has been transferred to the target operating system, MapForce Server can use it to authenticate itself against the Web server and execute the mapping successfully.

inc-deploycertificatelinux

Deploying mappings with client certificates to another computer

For HTTPS authentication in Web service calls, MapForce is capable of using Transport Layer Security (TLS) on top of HTTP, which is the successor of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. Note that fallback to SSL may occur if either the client implementation or the server does not support TLS.

 

To support Web calls with client certificate authentication on multiple platforms, MapForce (and MapForce Server) relies on the certificate management implementation of each platform, thus ensuring that certificate management is always in the scope of the underlying operating system. Each operating system provides different support for certificate management, as shown in the table below.

 

Platform

Certificate management and implementation

Windows

On Windows, you can manage certificates using the Certificate snap-in (see Accessing the Certificate Stores on Windows).

 

TLS support is available through the Secure Channel (also known as SChannel) library.

Linux

On Linux, you can manage certificates using the OpenSSL (openssl) command line tool and library. If OpenSSL support is not already available on the Linux machine where MapForce Server is installed, you will need to download and install it before you can manage certificates.

 

TLS support is available through the OpenSSL library (https://www.openssl.org/).

macOS

On macOS, you can manage certificates using the Keychain Access Manager, located under Finder > Applications > Utilities.

 

TLS support is provided by the Secure Transport library native to the operating system.

 

If you execute the mapping on a Windows operating system where you can already successfully consume the same Web service that you intend to call from MapForce, no additional certificate configuration is normally required (for the conditions to run the mapping successfully on Windows, see Client Certificates on Windows). However, if you design mappings with MapForce on a Windows computer, and then deploy them to another computer (which may run a different operating system), the client certificate is not stored or copied together with the deployed package. For the Web service call (and the mapping) to execute successfully, the client certificate must exist on the target operating system as well.

 

To transfer a certificate from a Windows system to another Windows-based computer, export the required certificate (with private key) from the source system (see Exporting Certificates from Windows). Then import the same certificate to the Current User\Personal store on the target operation system (see Client Certificates on Windows).

 

For instructions on how to transfer client certificates to the Linux and macOS platforms, see Client Certificates on Linux and Client Certificates on macOS, respectively.

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