Install Windows Server 2003 CA

by Daniel Petri - January 8, 2009

How can I install the Certificate Authority (CA) service in Windows Server 2003?

Windows Server 2003 can be used as a Certificate Authority (also known as CA) to provide extended security by offering support for Digital Certificates.

Digital Certificates can be granted to users based upon their roles and group membership. For example, a regular user that wants to enroll for a certificate will only be allowed to enroll for a specific set of Digital Certificates, while another user that is a member of the Domain Admins group will be allowed to enroll for a different set of certificates that can be used for a variety of functions, including Recovery Agents, IPSec, SSL and so on.

User Digital Certificates are valid for different purposes, including:

  • Allowing data on disk to be encrypted
  • Protecting e-mail messages
  • Proving the user's identity to a remote computer

and more.

Note: There may be scenarios where a company might opt to use 3rd party issued Digital Certificates instead of creating their own, especially when that company's users will be dealing with out-of-the-company users, exchanging encrypted e-mail messages between themselves and these outside users, or when using SSL on a secured web site. This is because the outside users might not be willing to trust the company's internal CA.

Step 1: Install the IIS Service

In order to install the CA you will first need to install IIS on a Windows Server 2003 computer. On Windows Server 2003 IIS is not installed with the default Windows 2003 installation.

  1. Click Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs.

  2. In Add or Remove Programs, click Add/Remove Windows Components.

  3. Under Components, click on Application Server (but do NOT select it) and press on the Details button.

  4. In the Application Server window click to select IIS and click Ok.

  1. Click Next

  1. After the wizard completes the installation, click Finish.

Step 2: Install the CA Service

To install the CA service perform the following steps:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs.

  2. In Add or Remove Programs, click Add/Remove Windows Components.

  3. Under Components, select Certificate Services.

  1. You will get a warning about domain membership and computer renaming constraints, and then click Yes.

  1. On the CA Type page, click Enterprise root CA, and then click Next.

  1. On the CA Identifying Information page, in the Common name for this CA box, type the name of the server, and then click Next.

  1. On the Certificate Database Settings page, accept the defaults in the Certificate database box and the Certificate database log box, and then click Next.

  1. You will get a prompt to stop Internet Information Services, click Yes.

  2. Enable Active Server Pages (ASPs), by clicking Yes.

  3. When the installation process is completed click Finish.

Step 3: Obtain a User Digital Certificate from the CA

After installing and configuring the CA on your domain you will now need to ask your users (at least those who will require message security) to enroll for a Digital Certificate.

In order to obtain a Digital Certificate from the CA please follow the steps outlined in the Obtain a Digital Certificate from an Online Certificate Authority (CA) article.

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