We had a customer question the other day about configuring FTP Client Certificate Authentication in FTP 7.0 and in FTP 7.5. It had been a while since the last time that I had configured those settings on an FTP server, so I thought that it would be great to re-familiarize myself with that feature. To my initial dismay, it was a little more difficult than I had remembered, because there are a lot of parts to be configured.
That being said, there are a few primary activities that you need to know about and configure correctly:
I will explain each of those in this blog, although I will defer some of the details for Active Directory mapping to an excellent blog series that I discovered by Vivek Kumbhar.
There are several settings that you need to configure for the FTP server; unfortunately there is no user interface for those settings, so you might want to familiarize yourself with the following settings:
- FTP Client Certificate Authentication <clientCertAuthentication>
- FTP over SSL <ssl>
- FTP SSL Client Certificates <sslClientCertificates>
At first I had made a batch file that was configuring these settings by using AppCmd, but I eventually abandoned that script and wrote the following VBScript code to configure all of the settings at one time – the only parts that you need to change is your site name and the hash value your SSL certificate, which are highlighted in yellow:
Set adminManager = CreateObject("Microsoft.ApplicationHost.WritableAdminManager") adminManager.CommitPath = "MACHINE/WEBROOT/APPHOST" Set sitesSection = adminManager.GetAdminSection("system.applicationHost/sites", "MACHINE/WEBROOT/APPHOST") Set sitesCollection = sitesSection.Collection siteElementPos = FindElement(sitesCollection, "site", Array("name", "ftp.contoso.com")) If (addElementPos = -1) Then WScript.Echo "Element not found!" WScript.Quit End If Set siteElement = sitesCollection.Item(siteElementPos) Set ftpServerElement = siteElement.ChildElements.Item("ftpServer") Set securityElement = ftpServerElement.ChildElements.Item("security") Set sslClientCertificatesElement = securityElement.ChildElements.Item("sslClientCertificates") sslClientCertificatesElement.Properties.Item("clientCertificatePolicy").Value = "CertRequire" sslClientCertificatesElement.Properties.Item("useActiveDirectoryMapping").Value = True Set authenticationElement = securityElement.ChildElements.Item("authentication") Set clientCertAuthenticationElement = authenticationElement.ChildElements.Item("clientCertAuthentication") clientCertAuthenticationElement.Properties.Item("enabled").Value = True Set sslElement = securityElement.ChildElements.Item("ssl") sslElement.Properties.Item("serverCertHash").Value = "57686f6120447564652c2049495320526f636b73" sslElement.Properties.Item("controlChannelPolicy").Value = "SslRequire" sslElement.Properties.Item("dataChannelPolicy").Value = "SslRequire" adminManager.CommitChanges Function FindElement(collection, elementTagName, valuesToMatch) For i = 0 To CInt(collection.Count) - 1 Set element = collection.Item(i) If element.Name = elementTagName Then matches = True For iVal = 0 To UBound(valuesToMatch) Step 2 Set property = element.GetPropertyByName(valuesToMatch(iVal)) value = property.Value If Not IsNull(value) Then value = CStr(value) End If If Not value = CStr(valuesToMatch(iVal + 1)) Then matches = False Exit For End If Next If matches Then Exit For End If End If Next If matches Then FindElement = i Else FindElement = -1 End If End Function
Once you have configured your FTP settings, you should have an FTP site that resembles the following in your ApplicationHost.config file:
<site name="ftp.contoso.com" id="2"> <application path="/"> <virtualDirectory path="/" physicalPath="c:\inetpub\ftproot" /> </application> <bindings> <binding protocol="ftp" bindingInformation="*:21:" /> </bindings> <ftpServer> <security> <ssl serverCertHash="57686f6120447564652c2049495320526f636b73" ssl128="false" controlChannelPolicy="SslRequire" dataChannelPolicy="SslRequire" /> <authentication> <basicAuthentication enabled="false" /> <anonymousAuthentication enabled="false" /> <clientCertAuthentication enabled="true" /> </authentication> <sslClientCertificates clientCertificatePolicy="CertRequire" useActiveDirectoryMapping="true" /> </security> </ftpServer> </site>
More details about these settings can be found in the configuration reference articles that I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post, and additional information about configuring FTP over SSL can be found in the following walkthrough:
The next part of this process is kind of tricky; you need to accomplish all of the following:
- Obtain and install a client certificate on the system where your FTP client is installed. Hare some additional notes to consider:
- This may involve setting up your client system to trust the CA that issued your client certificate.
- This may also involve setting up your FTP server to trust the CA that issued both your client certificate and the server certificate that you are using for your FTP site.
- Configure Active Directory to map the client certificate to an Active Directory account.
- Configure your FTP client to use a client certificate when connecting to your FTP server.
That makes it all sound so easy, but it can be very tricky. That being said, as I mentioned earlier, as I was putting together my notes to write this blog, I stumbled across a great blog series by Vivek Kumbhar, where he goes into great detail when describing all of the steps to set up the Active Directory mapping. With that in mind, instead of trying to rewrite what Vivek has already documented, I will include links to his blog series:
- Configure Client Certificate Mapping in FTP 7.5 – Part 1
Describes how to set up your Active Directory server, IIS server, and FTP client systems.
- Configure Client Certificate Mapping in FTP 7.5 – Part 2
Walks you through obtaining and installing a server certificate, which you will use later for your FTP site.
- Configure Client Certificate Mapping in FTP 7.5 – Part 3
Walks you through setting up an FTP site with SSL.
- Configure Client Certificate Mapping in FTP 7.5 – Part 4
Describes how to configure Active Directory mapping for a user account.
I have to give Vivek full credit where it’s due – he wrote a truly great blog series, and he included a lot more detail in his blog series than I had originally planned to include in this blog. (In my humble opinion, Vivek’s blog series is the best documentation that I have seen for this feature.)
To test out client certificates, I used both the SmartFTP GUI-based FTP client and the MOVEit-Freely command-line FTP client; both of which I discussed in my FTP Clients blog series some time ago.
Using the SmartFTP Client
To configure the SmartFTP client, I just needed to enable and specify the correct client certificate in the properties for my connection:
Using the MOVEit-Freely FTP Client
For the MOVEit-Freely FTP client, I just needed to specify the correct parameters on the command line:
ftps.exe -z -e:on -pfxfile:administrator.pfx -pfxpw:"P@ssw0rd" -user:anonymous -password:"firstname.lastname@example.org"
The important settings are the
pfxpw values, where
pfxfile is the name of the PFX file that holds your client certificate, and
pfxpw is the password for the PFX file. (The
password values will be ignored for the most part, because you will actually be logged in through your client certificate, so you can leave those as anonymous.)
For more information about these two FTP clients, see the following blog posts:
- FTP Clients – Part 8: SmartFTP Client
- FTP Clients – Part 5: MOVEit Freely Command-Line Secure FTP Client
FTP client certificates are definitely a bit of a challenge to configure correctly, but it’s not an impossible task to get this feature working.