Amazon introduces dynamic intermediate certificate authorities
February 27, 2023: We’ve updated question and answer #3 on this blog post.
October 7, 2022: This blog post has been updated to include a Frequently Asked Questions section at the end.
September 30, 2022: This blog post has been updated to include the addition of the CN=Starfield Services Root Certificate Authority – G2,O=Starfield Technologies\, Inc.,L=Scottsdale,ST=Arizona,C=US root in the Amazon Trust Services root CA certificate chart.
AWS Certificate Manager (ACM) is a managed service that lets you provision, manage, and deploy public and private Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) certificates for use with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and your internal connected resources. Starting October 11, 2022, at 9:00 AM Pacific Time, public certificates obtained through ACM will be issued from one of the multiple intermediate certificate authorities (CAs) that Amazon manages. In this blog post, we share important details about this change and how you can prepare.
What is changing and why?
Public certificates that you request through ACM are obtained from Amazon Trust Services, which is a public certificate authority (CA) that Amazon manages. Like other public CAs, Amazon Trust Services CAs have a structured trust hierarchy. The public certificate issued to you, also known as the leaf certificate, can chain to one or more intermediate CAs and then to the Amazon Trust Services root CA. The Amazon Trust Services root CA is trusted by default by most browsers and operating systems. This is why Amazon can issue public certificates that are trusted by these systems.
Starting October 11, 2022 at 9:00 AM Pacific Time, public certificates obtained through ACM will be issued from one of the multiple intermediate CAs that Amazon manages. These intermediate CAs chain to an existing Amazon Trust Services root CA. With this change, leaf certificates issued to you will be signed by different intermediate CAs. Before this change, Amazon maintained a limited number of intermediate CAs and issued and renewed certificates from the same intermediate CAs.
Amazon is making this change to create a more resilient and agile certificate infrastructure that will help us respond more quickly to future requirements. This change also presents an opportunity to correct a known issue related to delayed revocation of a subordinate CA and help minimize the scope of impact for new risks that might emerge in the future.
What can I do to prepare?
Most customers won’t experience an impact from this change. Browsers and most applications will continue to work just as they do now, because these services trust the Amazon Trust Services root CA and not a specific intermediate CA. If you’re using one of the standard operating systems and web browsers that are listed in the next section of this post, you don’t need to take any action.
If you use intermediate CA information through certificate pinning, you will need to make changes and pin to an Amazon Trust Services root CA instead of an intermediate CA or leaf certificate. Certificate pinning is a process in which your application that initiates the TLS connection only trusts a specific public certificate through one or more certificate variables that you define. If the pinned certificate is replaced, your application won’t initiate the connection. AWS recommends that you don’t use certificate pinning because it introduces an availability risk. However, if your use case requires certificate pinning, AWS recommends that you pin to an Amazon Trust Services root CA instead of an intermediate CA or leaf certificate. When you pin to an Amazon Trust Services root CA, you should pin to all of the root CAs shown in the following table.
Amazon Trust Services root CA certificates
|Distinguished name||SHA-256 hash of subject public key information||Test URL|
|CN=Amazon Root CA
|CN=Amazon Root CA
|CN=Amazon Root CA
|CN=Amazon Root CA
|CN=Starfield Services Root Certificate Authority – G2,O=Starfield Technologies\, Inc.,L=Scottsdale,ST=Arizona,C=US||2b071c59a0a0ae76b0eadb2bad23bad4580b69c3601b630c2eaf0613afa83f92||Test URL|
To test that your trust store contains the Amazon Trust Services root CA, see the preceding table, which lists the Amazon Trust Services root CA certificates, and choose each test URL in the table. If the test URL works, you should see a message that says Expected Status: Good, along with the certificate chain. If the test URL doesn’t work, you will receive an error message that indicates the connection has failed.
What should I do if the Amazon Trust Services CAs are not in my trust store?
If your application is using a custom trust store, you must add the Amazon Trust Services root CAs to your application’s trust store. The instructions for doing this vary based on the application or service. Refer to the documentation for the application or service that you’re using.
If your tests of any of the test URLs failed, you must update your trust store. The simplest way to update your trust store is to upgrade the operating system or browser that you’re using.
The following operating systems use the Amazon Trust Services CAs:
- Amazon Linux (all versions)
- Microsoft Windows versions, with updates installed, from January 2005, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and newer versions
- Mac OS X 10.4 with Java for Mac OS X 10.4 Release 5, Mac OS X 10.5, and newer versions
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (March 2007 release), Linux 6, and Linux 7 and CentOS 5, CentOS 6, and CentOS 7
- Ubuntu 8.10
- Debian 5.0
- Java 1.4.2_12, Java 5 update 2, and all newer versions, including Java 6, Java 7, and Java 8
Modern browsers trust Amazon Trust Services CAs. To update the certificate bundle in your browser, update your browser. For instructions on how to update your browser, see the update page for your browser:
- The Windows operating system manages certificate bundles for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge, so to update your browser, you must update Windows.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Will my existing certificates be impacted on Oct 11 when you start issuing certificates from the new intermediate certificate authorities (ICAs)?
A: On Oct 11, 2022, newly requested certificates will be issued from the new ICAs. Your existing certificates will continue to chain to the existing ICA, and then to the Amazon root certificate authorities (CA).
Q2: Will the intermediate certificate authorities (ICAs), be selected and issued at random?
A: Yes. Amazon will manage multiple ICAs per root CA, and a leaf certificate can be issued from any of those ICAs.
Q3: Will there be additional changes that impact the existing certificates issued off the existing certificate authorities (CAs)?
A: Yes. In January 2023, all ACM-issued certificates will renew off the multi-ICA paradigm. Beginning in February 2023, ACM will start the migration of certificates from the old ICA to the new ICAs. If you subscribe to ACM events through Amazon EventBridge, you will see an ACM Certificate Available event when the migration is complete. The expiration date for these migrated certificates will be the same as the old/existing certificate. If you use intermediate CA information through certificate pinning, you will need to make changes and pin to an Amazon Trust Services root CA instead of an intermediate CA or leaf certificate. ACM recommends against pinning to ICA or leaf certificates.
Q4: Will the Starfield root remain part of the approved certificate authorities (CAs)?
A: All Amazon roots i.e., “Amazon Root CAs 1 – 4,” are cross-signed by “Starfield Services Root Certificate Authority – G2,” which is owned and operated by Amazon. We have updated the blog to reflect this. We recommend you include all five Amazon operated roots in your trust store to ensure maximum PKI agility.
Where can I get help?
If you have questions, contact AWS Support or your technical account manager (TAM), or start a new thread on the AWS re:Post ACM Forum. If you have feedback about this post, submit comments in the Comments section below.
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