Blogs on Windows Server By MSFT WebCast
Windows Server 2019

Deploy a Self-signed certificate by using Group Policy

This article describes the steps on how to deploy a self-signed certificate by using group policy in Windows Server 2019 Active Directory. This procedure is useful when you need to push a WSUS self-signed or CA-signed certificate to all of your clients before they can trust the published third party packages.

In the previous post, we have seen the steps on how to bind the self-signed certificate in IIS 10. If you are using a self-signed certificate, then domain users are going to get an error in browsers (IE/Firefox) that the certificate is not valid.

To fix this in our domain, we will create a Group Policy and deployed the self-signed certificate to each client. Group policy will add the self-signed certificate to the trusted root certification authorities list on each client. So clients can trust the self-signed certificate.

1: Export the Self-signed Certificate:

First of all, we need to export the self-signed certificate from your web server.

1. To do so, open the run menu by pressing Windows Key and R key at the same time. Type mmc and press enter key.

2. Click on File and select Add/Remove Snap-in. Add the Certificates snap-in and choose to manage it using the local computer account. Click on OK.

3. Expand Certificates (Local Computer). Expand Personal and click on Certificate from the menu on the left-hand side.

4. Right-click on your Self-signed certificate and choose All Tasks followed by Export.

5. Click Next on Welcome wizard.

6. Choose No, do not export the private key. Click Next.

7. Select the default format DER encoded binary X.509 (.CER) and click Next.
8. Specify the file name and path to save the self-signed certificate. Click Next.
9. Click on the Finish button to complete the export process. After a few seconds, you will get a confirmation message that export was successful.

Now we are ready to create the certificate deployment policy. We should open the Group Policy Management console to create a group policy object.

2. Create and apply Group Policy Object (GPO):

10. On server manager console, click on tools and select group policy management.

11. Select the OU where you want to link the group policy object and right-click on it. Select Create a GPO in this domain, link it here.
12. Specify the meaningful name for the GPO like “Deploy Self-Signed Certificate using GPO”. Click OK.
13. Right-click the GPO policy and select Edit.

14. Navigate to Computer ConfigurationPoliciesWindows SettingsSecurity SettingsPublic Key PoliciesTrusted Root Certification Authorities.

15. Right-click in the right pane and select Import.

16. The certificate import wizard will start. Click Next.
17. Specify the path to the imported certificate file. Click Next.
18. Review the import store location and click Next.
19. Review the summary and click Finish.
20. The certificate has been successfully imported. Click OK to close the wizard. All done! You can now close the Group Policy Editor.

3: Test group policy settings on client machine:

21. All you need to do now is run a gpupdate /force command on a computer to test the group policy.

22. Visit the local website. This time you won’t see a certificate error in the web browser.
23. You can see the self-signed certificate stored under the trusted root certification authorities list on the client computer.

You have now successfully deployed the self-signed certificate to all client machines using group policy. The self-signed certificate will be automatically installed on all new computers without requiring any involvement.

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