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What to do when a Certifier ID is stolen, lost or compromised

Technote (FAQ)


What should an Administrator do if a Notes/Domino Certifier ID has been lost, stolen or compromised?


The following information describes how to recertify with a new and lock down the Domino directory.

The good news is that the threat posed by someone with your Certifier ID can be contained and stopped. The bad news is that the recertification process is a manually-intensive process, making it somewhat difficult to recertify an organization.

A. Defining the threat

The first step is to determine what a person with an organization's Certifier ID can do so that you know what activities can be prevented. The following is a list of the activities that a person with your organization's Certifier ID can do:
1. Create new user IDs, or forge duplicate user IDs which appear to have the same user name as an existing user but which actually have a different public key/private key pair from the original user's ID.

2. Create new server IDs, or forge duplicate servers (same as above) having different public key/private key pairs.

3. Create cross-certificates.

4. Create organizational level Certifier IDs.

5. Recertify existing user IDs and server IDs that have expired.

B. Containment Steps

Next you should determine what steps can be taken to stop someone who holds the Certifier ID. The following list of steps allows you to stop the activities of an unauthorized person holding your Certifier ID.

1. Tightly restrict access to the Domino directory. Set default Access Control List (ACL) access to Reader. Restrict who you grant Author and higher rights in the ACL.

2. Turn on the following settings in every Server document:

- "Compare public keys against those stored in Address Book"

    - "Only allow server access to users listed in this Address Book"

3. Turn on the following settings in the Domino directory's ACL:
    - "Enforce a consistent Access Control List across all replicas of this database"
4. Check each Server ID for any old or invalid flat certificates.

5. Restart each Domino server after making the changes to the Server documents.

6. Remove any old or invalid Person documents from the Domino directory.

7. Remove any old or invalid Server documents from the Domino directory.

8. Remove any old or invalid cross-certificates or Certificate documents from the Domino directory.

NOTE: These steps apply specifically to the problem of a compromised Certifier ID. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the normal procedures and policies that you should already have in place to ensure the security of your environment, such as physical security, network operating system security, ensuring that database administrators understand their role in controlling who is granted ACL rights, etc.

C. Recertification Options

The following are possible workarounds:

1. Do nothing. Once the environment is secured and the threat of someone with your Certifier ID is contained, you can opt to do nothing else. You do not have to issue a new certifier to contain the threat. You could wait for a future product enhancement that would automate the recertification process and make it more convenient.

2. Migrate users and servers to a new Organization name and certifier. The good news is that the Administration Process (AdminP), makes it easier to roll out a name change for users. The bad news is that the process of renaming servers is manual and very detailed. The process of changing the distinguished names of all your servers would be a lot of work. Server renaming is not supported by AdminP.

3. Attempt to automate the parts of the manual recertification process that affect each user through such things as agents, script, or emails with buttons.

4. Recertify manually. The bad news is that this is a manual process and takes time. See steps in Supporting Information section below. (applies to R5.0 and earlier Domino servers only).

Supporting Information:

Note: The information below only applies to release 5.0x and earlier.

You can perform the following steps to create a new Cert ID by registering an organization with the exact same name as the original organizational Certifier. For the purposes of this document, we will use the Organization of Acme, O=Acme.

1. First, make a backup of the Domino directory, notes.ini, server ID, all user ID's, and any OU ID's.

2. Delete the Certificate in the Domino directory for the lost Cert ID. In this case, we would delete the certificate /Acme under Server, Certificates, Notes Certifiers (Notes/Domino 5) or Configuration, Certificates, Notes Certifiers (Notes/Domino 6).

3. Register a new Organization:

Start up the Administration client, click the Configuration tab, Tools, Registration, Organization. Choose a Registration Server and be sure to name the Organization the exact same name as before; in this case, Acme. Enter a password and click on Register. This will add a new certificate for /Acme under Notes Certifiers in the Domino directory.

You should get an informational dialog box that the ID file has been created. Click OK.

4. Click the Configuration tab, Tools, Certification, Certify. Use the newly created to certify the and the Admin ID (the ID that is logged in while doing these procedures) by clicking Certify.

A message in the status bar should state that the ID was successfully certified.

5. At this point, re-start the Domino server.

6. When the server comes back up, click the People & Groups tab in the Domino Administrator, and check off all people under the Organizational Certifier , in this case, Acme. An example of a hierarchical user registered under the Acme certifier would be Joe Smith/Acme.

7. Go to Actions, Recertify Selected People, and use the newly created to recertify the users. A"Renew Certificates in Selected Entries" dialog box appears. Click Certify. At this point, AdminP will recertify the users, but be sure to check the server console for errors and the Administration database ADMIN4.NSF to be sure the requests were completed.

8. At this point, when users re-authenticate with the server, they will have their ID's updated with the new hierarchical certificates. If they are having trouble, have them log out completely (F5), then re-authenticate. If they still have a problem, then manually re-certify the user's ID.

9. If there are servers and people under OU's that are descendants of the Original Certifier, for example, server1/sales/Acme and John Brown/Marketing/Acme, then these OU's also need to be re-created, and the servers and users need to be recertified. OU's Certifiers will first need to be deleted from the Domino directory /sales/Acme and /Marketing/Acme.

10. Also, any servers that have cross-certified with the Organization will need to be cross-certified again. Delete all cross-certificates from the Domino directory and cross-certify again.

NOTE: When users go into their mail files after the recertification, they may see an error stating that the Public keys do not match, when viewing their ACL. There are no known problems associated with this error. It seems only informational and does not affect functionality, but you can avoid it by updating signatures in the user's mail file. In the Domino Administrator, go to the Files tab, find users mail file(s), Tools, Database, Sign, Update existing signatures only

Related information

What to Do When a Notes ID Is Stolen, Lost or Compromis

Historical Number


Product Alias/Synonym

Lotus Notes Client

Document information

More support for: IBM Domino

Software version: 6.5, 7.0, 8.0

Operating system(s): AIX, IBM i, Linux, Solaris, Windows, z/OS

Reference #: 1087149

Modified date: 02 December 2008