How to test if a web site requires a client certificate

Intro
I can not find a link on the Internet for this, yet I think some admins would appreciate a relatively simple test to know is this a web site which requires a client certificate to work? The errors generated in a browser may be very generic in these situations. I see many ways to offer help, from a recipe to a tool to some pointers. I’m not yet sure how I want to proceed!

why would a site require a client CERT? Most likely as a form of client authentication.

Pointers for the DIY crowd
Badssl.com plus access to a linux command line – such as using a Raspberry Pi I so often write about – will do it for you guys.

The Client Certificate section of badssl.com has most of what you need. The page is getting big, look for this:

So as a big timesaver badssl.com has created a client certificate for you which you can use to test with. Download it as follows.

Go to your linux prompt and do something like this:
$ wget https://badssl.com/certs/badssl.com‐client.pem

badssl.com has a web page you can test with which only shows success if you access it using a client certificate, https://client.badssl.com/

to see how this works, try to access it the usual way, without supplying a client CERT:

$ curl ‐i ‐k https://client.badssl.com/

HTTP/1.1 400 Bad Request
Server: nginx/1.10.3 (Ubuntu)
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 17:53:38 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Length: 262
Connection: close
 
<html>
<head><title>400 No required SSL certificate was sent</title></head>
<body bgcolor="white">
<center><h1>400 Bad Request</h1></center>
<center>No required SSL certificate was sent</center>
<hr><center>nginx/1.10.3 (Ubuntu)</center>
</body>
</html>

Now try the same thing, this time using the client CERT you just downloaded:

$ curl ‐v ‐i ‐k ‐E ./badssl.com‐client.pem:badssl.com https://client.badssl.com/

* About to connect() to client.badssl.com port 443 (#0)
*   Trying 104.154.89.105... connected
* Connected to client.badssl.com (104.154.89.105) port 443 (#0)
* Initializing NSS with certpath: sql:/etc/pki/nssdb
* warning: ignoring value of ssl.verifyhost
* skipping SSL peer certificate verification
* NSS: client certificate from file
*       subject: CN=BadSSL Client Certificate,O=BadSSL,L=San Francisco,ST=California,C=US
*       start date: Nov 16 05:36:33 2017 GMT
*       expire date: Nov 16 05:36:33 2019 GMT
*       common name: BadSSL Client Certificate
*       issuer: CN=BadSSL Client Root Certificate Authority,O=BadSSL,L=San Francisco,ST=California,C=US
* SSL connection using TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_GCM_SHA256
* Server certificate:
*       subject: CN=*.badssl.com,O=Lucas Garron,L=Walnut Creek,ST=California,C=US
*       start date: Mar 18 00:00:00 2017 GMT
*       expire date: Mar 25 12:00:00 2020 GMT
*       common name: *.badssl.com
*       issuer: CN=DigiCert SHA2 Secure Server CA,O=DigiCert Inc,C=US
> GET / HTTP/1.1
> User-Agent: curl/7.19.7 (x86_64-redhat-linux-gnu) libcurl/7.19.7 NSS/3.27.1 zlib/1.2.3 libidn/1.18 libssh2/1.4.2
> Host: client.badssl.com
> Accept: */*
>
< HTTP/1.1 200 OK
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
< Server: nginx/1.10.3 (Ubuntu)
Server: nginx/1.10.3 (Ubuntu)
< Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 17:59:08 GMT
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 17:59:08 GMT
< Content-Type: text/html
Content-Type: text/html
< Content-Length: 662
Content-Length: 662
< Last-Modified: Wed, 12 Jun 2019 15:43:39 GMT
Last-Modified: Wed, 12 Jun 2019 15:43:39 GMT
< Connection: keep-alive
Connection: keep-alive
< ETag: "5d011dab-296"
ETag: "5d011dab-296"
< Cache-Control: no-store
Cache-Control: no-store
< Accept-Ranges: bytes
Accept-Ranges: bytes
 
<
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
  <link rel="shortcut icon" href="/icons/favicon-green.ico"/>
  <link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/icons/icon-green.png"/>
  <title>client.badssl.com</title>
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="/style.css">
  <style>body { background: green; }</style>
</head>
<body>
<div id="content">
  <h1 style="font-size: 12vw;">
    client.<br>badssl.com
  </h1>
</div>
 
<div id="footer">
  This site requires a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_Layer_Security#Client-authenticated_TLS_handshake">client-authenticated</a> TLS handshake.
</div>
 
</body>
</html>
* Connection #0 to host client.badssl.com left intact
* Closing connection #0

No more 400 error status – that looks like success to me. Note that we had to provide the password for our client CERT, which they kindly provided as badssl.com

Here’s an example of a real site which requires client CERTs:

$ curl ‐v ‐i ‐k ‐E ./badssl.com‐client.pem:badssl.com https://jp.nissan.biz/

* About to connect() to jp.nissan.biz port 443 (#0)
*   Trying 150.63.252.1... connected
* Connected to jp.nissan.biz (150.63.252.1) port 443 (#0)
* Initializing NSS with certpath: sql:/etc/pki/nssdb
* warning: ignoring value of ssl.verifyhost
* skipping SSL peer certificate verification
* NSS: client certificate from file
*       subject: CN=BadSSL Client Certificate,O=BadSSL,L=San Francisco,ST=California,C=US
*       start date: Nov 16 05:36:33 2017 GMT
*       expire date: Nov 16 05:36:33 2019 GMT
*       common name: BadSSL Client Certificate
*       issuer: CN=BadSSL Client Root Certificate Authority,O=BadSSL,L=San Francisco,ST=California,C=US
* NSS error -12227
* Closing connection #0
* SSL connect error
curl: (35) SSL connect error

OK, so you get an error, but that’s to be expected because our certificate is not one it will accept.

The point is that if you don’t send it a certificate at all, you get a different error:

$ curl ‐v ‐i ‐k https://jp.nissan.biz/

* About to connect() to jp.nissan.biz port 443 (#0)
*   Trying 150.63.252.1... connected
* Connected to jp.nissan.biz (150.63.252.1) port 443 (#0)
* Initializing NSS with certpath: sql:/etc/pki/nssdb
* warning: ignoring value of ssl.verifyhost
* skipping SSL peer certificate verification
* NSS: client certificate not found (nickname not specified)
* NSS error -12227
* Closing connection #0
curl: (35) NSS: client certificate not found (nickname not specified)

See that client certificate not found? That is the error we eliminated by supplying a client certificate, albeit one which it will not accept.

what if we have a client certificate but we use the wrong password? Here’s an example of that:

$ curl ‐v ‐i ‐k ‐E ./badssl.com‐client.pem:badpassword https://client.badssl.com/

* About to connect() to client.badssl.com port 443 (#0)
*   Trying 104.154.89.105... connected
* Connected to client.badssl.com (104.154.89.105) port 443 (#0)
* Initializing NSS with certpath: sql:/etc/pki/nssdb
* warning: ignoring value of ssl.verifyhost
* Unable to load client key -8025.
* NSS error -8025
* Closing connection #0
curl: (58) Unable to load client key -8025.

Chrome gives a fairly intelligible error

Possibly to be continued…

Conclusion
We have given a recipe for testing form a linux command line if a web site requires a client certificate or not. thus it could be turned into a program

References and related
My article about ciphers has been popular.

I’ve also used badssl.com for other related tests.

Can you use openssl directly? You’d hope so, but I haven’t had time to explore it… Here are my all-time favorite openssl commands.

https://badssl.com/ – lots of cool tests here. The creators have been really thorough.

This entry was posted in Admin, Linux, Network Technologies, Raspberry Pi, Security, Web Site Technologies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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