Re: [pkix] Self-issued certificates

"Erik Andersen" <> Mon, 13 July 2015 07:30 UTC

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From: Erik Andersen <>
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Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2015 09:30:23 +0200
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Subject: Re: [pkix] Self-issued certificates
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Hi Peter,

It is only RFC 5280 that is unclear. X.509 is quite clear. The X.509
definition is:

3.5.62	self-issued certificate: A CA certificate where the issuer and the
subject are the same CA. A CA might use self-issued certificates, for
example, during a key rollover operation to provide trust from the old key
to the new key.

The problem you are facing is that the term entity is not clearly defined.
Is a CA an entity or is CA is specific role for an entity among other roles
for the same entity?

The RFC 5280 definition seems to assume that a CA is an entity, and the two
CA you mention are different entities, while X.509 does not necessarily make
that assumption.

Kind regards,

Erik Andersen

-----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
Fra: pkix [] På vegne af Peter Bowen
Sendt: 13 July 2015 00:03
Emne: [pkix] Self-issued certificates

I'm trying to make sense of the definition of "self-issued certificates" in
RFC 5280 (and X.509)

Section 3.2 provides a definition: "Self-issued certificates are CA
certificates in which the issuer and subject are the same entity."
However section 6.1 says "A certificate is self-issued if the same DN
appears in the subject and issuer fields."

While it is clear that all certificates with the same DN for subject and
issue are self-issued, it is unclear to me whether a certificate with
different DNs could be self-issued.  Section 6.1 could be giving one example
of how a certificate could be self-issued or section 6.1 could be a limiting

Consider the following example:
Example Trust Services has two different private keys.  Each key has a
single associated DN:
Key0 has DN O=Example Trust Services, OU=Global Trust Anchor
Key1 has DN O=Example Trust Services, OU=Commercial Trust Anchor

There is a CA certificate created with
Subject: O=Example Trust Services, OU=Commercial Trust Anchor Subject Public
Key: Key1
Issuer: O=Example Trust Services, OU=Global Trust Anchor Signed by Key0

Is this CA certificate considered a self-issued certificate?


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