PeopleSoft in general leaves it to the administrator to ensure that digital certificates are set up properly. Given digital certificates don’t tend to change very often, and the provider changes even less frequently, it can be difficult to understand and remember how this works, and prevent issues.
What is a digital certificate?
The two parts
There are two parts to a digital certificate. One part is the private key which is used to encrypt data, and is installed, in our case, on the load balancer. It is important to keep this safe so nobody can impersonate our system. The public key is what we are mostly dealing with here. This is available to anyone and can be used to decrypt the data, and check it came from someone we trust.
The Public Certificate File
A digital certificate is a file which contains data in a key value format including:
- Who issued the certificate
- What the certificate is for
- Who the certificate was issued to
- When the certificate is valid
- Some numbers which are used to do clever maths for encryption
Looking at this website in a web browser, I can click on the padlock at the left side of the address bar. Depending on the web browser I can click a couple more times to see the actual certificate. At the moment I can see that the certificate was issued to *.netlify.app by DigiCert TLS Hybrid… and that was issued by DigiCert Global Root CA. So for the website to be displayed, the browser needs to trust the root certificate, then it will trust all websites that have certificates issued by this root Certificate Authority. They also need to be in date, and not revoked.
The web browser has a lot of certificate authorities that it trusts. These are installed by the web browser provider. Oracle doesn’t do this for PeopleSoft, so the administrator needs to do it.
Getting Hold of the Digital Certificate
Using a Web Browser
A public certificate can be downloaded from a website. For example if using Chrome on Windows, the certificate can be viewed by clicking padlock at the left of the URL, then clicking on Connection is secure in the menu that pops up, then clicking Certificate is valid on the next menu. A window appears. Clicking on the Certification Path tab shows a window that looks like the following:
We want the root certificate, which is at the top of the list. Click on it, then click the View Certificate button. Another window appears displaying information on the root certificate.
In the Details tab, click the Copy to File button. A wizard opens. Click Next to get past the welcome page, then the following appears:
Choose Base-64 encoded X509 (.CER) for the format. Click Next, then save it somewhere convenient.
The java keytool can also be used though it will download the entire certificate chain.
Where are the Digital Certificates?
There are several places we can find digital certificates in PeopleSoft. A couple of the most important are:
In the Application Itself
The menu path is: PeopleTools -> Security -> Security Objects -> Manage Digital Certificates
The first is used for when the application wants to talk to the integration broker. It actually uses a web request to call the integration broker which then calls out to the remote system. In practice this means that the certificate used by the application itself needs to be trusted. In our case the load balancer is configured with our private identity certificate. Other sites may have this configured in WebLogic itself.
This page is not maintained by Oracle meaning the certificate is likely to be absent. When a new certificate is added to the load balancer, the administrator should check that the root certificate is trusted.
The certificate should be provided by the load balancer admins from the certificate authority, or it can be downloaded as above. Click one of the + buttons at the end of a line to open up a new line. Type in an alias for the certificate. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it might be useful to use the the Common Name (CN) part of the Subject field. Type something in the issuer alias field, or you get an error. Then click the Add Root link and paste in the cer file, including the BEGIN CERTIFICATE and END CERTIFICATE lines. The application server will need to be restarted to pick up the new certificate.
What if it is Missing?
If the certificate is missing from the application, the integration gateway won’t work at all. This is confusing as it seems that we don’t trust the remote application certificate, but actually we don’t trust our own! Error messages tend to be quite poor indicating failure to contact the remote system. Examples include:
- Posting the elastic search index from the process scheduler to the elastic search instance doesn’t work because the elastic search certificate is missing. The Elastic search TLS certificate needs to be trusted.
- Calling an API from a remote host returns an error indicating that the remote host isn’t contactable. The PeopleSoft application certificate needs to be trusted, i.e. the certificate for the gateway URL defined in PeopleTools -> Integration Broker -> Configuration -> Integration Gateways
Of course the above problems can also occur if the server isn’t accessible e.g. because of a firewall rule.
In the Trust Store
This is configured in
integrationGateway.properties as follows:
The file is delivered and the default password is
recently this password is set when PeopleTools is installed. This needs
to trust all websites that the integration broker is likely to visit.
This is more up to date than the application page above, but it might be necessary to maintain it. Certificates for all services contacted by the integration gateway need to be stored in this file.
To add a certificate to this file, we are supposed to use
but it is just a Java key store, so I find it more convenient to use the Java
key manager as follows:
myalias is the alias for the certificate, which can be anything,
but more usefully would be the name of the issuer, and
password is the
password to the key store. If keytool complains
Input not an X.509 certificate the issue is normally extraneous spaces
e.g. at the end of a line.
What if it is Missing?
If the certificate is missing from the trust store any external website that has its certificate supplied by this certificate authority won’t be trusted, so the integration broker will refuse to connect.
Service Name Indication
Integration broker needs to be instructed to remember who it is talking to if the remote site used SNI, which most do. See my article on SNI for more information about this.
- The key store in the application needs to trust the certificate assigned to PeopleSoft. Check this every time you change the application certificate provider.
- Integration Broker’s key store needs to trust all the sites integration broker will visit. Check when changing the application certificate provider as above, and also when adding and changing interfaces.