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How to recover the private key of an SSL certificate in an IIS environment?


Recovering a missing private key in an IIS environment.

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Purpose: Recovering a missing private key in IIS environment.

For Microsoft II8

(Jump to the solution)

Cause :

Entrust SSL certificates do not include a private key. The private key resides on the server that generated the Certificate Signing Request (CSR). When installed correctly, the Server Certificate will match up with the private key as displayed below:

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If the private key is missing, the circled message indicating a good correspondence with private key will be missing as shown here:

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A missing private key could mean:

  • The certificate is not being installed on the same server that generated the CSR.
  • The pending request was deleted from IIS.
  • The certificate was installed through the Certificate Import Wizard rather than through IIS.

In this technote we do not discuss how to determine the reason the private key is missing. Select the link corresponding to each reason listed above for more information.

There's a video for this guide. Watch the video here.

There are three parts to this solution:

1) Snap-In Configuration

2) Import the Server Certificate

3) Recover the private key

Part 1 of 3: Snap-In Configuration

Use the following steps to add the Certificates snap-in:

1. Click Start , and then search for Run .

2. Type in mmc and click OK .

3. From the File menu, choose Add/Remove Snap-in .

4. Select Certificates and then Add .

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5. Choose the Computer account option and click Next .

6. Select Local Computer and then click Finish .

7. Click Close , and then click OK . The snap-in for Certificates (Local Computer) appears in the console.

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Part 2 of 3: Import the Server Certificate

Use the following steps to import your Server Certificate into the Personal certificate store. If the Server Certificate has already been imported into the Personal store, you may skip this step.

From the MMC console opened in the above steps:

1. Expand the Certificates (Local Computer) tree in the left preview panel.

2. Right-click Personal and select All Tasks > Import .

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3. The Certificate Import Wizard appears. Click Next .

4. Browse to the location of your Server Certificate file and click Next .

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5. Select Place all certificates in the following store and click Next .

6. Click Finish to complete the Certificate Import Wizard.

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7. A dialog box appears indicating the import was successful. Click OK .

Part 3 of 3: Recover the Private Key

Use the following steps to recover your private key using the certutil command.

1. Locate your Server Certificate file by opening Microsoft Internet Information Services Manager, then on the right side select Tools > Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager.

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2. Once in IIS Manager, select your server, then on the right side, Server Certificates. You will see all certificates currently on that server. Scroll over the certificate you are trying to install, right click, then select View .

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3. There, you can view the certificate information. As you can see, there is no indication of a good correspondence with the private key.

4. Click the Details tab. Write down the serial number of the certificate.

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5. We will need to recover the private key using a command prompt. In order to recover the key, we must do so using command prompt as an administrator. To do so, slick Start , then on then open all App. Under Windows System , find Command Prompt . Right click Command prompt and then Run as administrator . Confirm the action and continue.

6. Make sure you are on the right directory in command prompt.

e.g. , if your server directory is “c:/users/srv2012_r2_std_x64”, on the command line type “cd c:/users/srv2012_r2_std_x64”. Note that “cd” is the command used to change directories in command prompt.

7. Now that we are in the right place, enter the following command at the prompt: certutil –repairstore my <serial number> where <serial number> is the serial number obtained in Step 2 with spaces removed.

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8. If Windows is able to recover the private key, you see the message:

CertUtil:  -repairstore command completed successfully.

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If your private key was recovered successfully, your Server Certificate installation is complete.

If the private key was not recovered successfully, you will need to generate a new Certificate Signing Request and submit it to Entrust to have your certificate re-issued, or re-issue the certificate using your ECS Enterprise account.

Check that your Certificate has been successfully installed by testing it on the Entrust SSL Install Checker .

If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Entrust Certificate Services Support department for further assistance:

Hours of Operation:
Sunday 8:00 PM ET to Friday 8:00 PM ET
North America (toll free): 1-866-267-9297
Outside North America: 1-613-270-2680 (or see the list below)

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