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Posted 24 Jan 2014

Certificate Not Issued by a Trusted Certificate Authority

, 24 Jan 2014 CPOL
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Solution fixing SSL certificate error


I just spent a whole day cursing and swearing on a certificate error that I got using the webservices of one of our clients. They installed a new certificate since their old one was going to expire in a few days. No biggie I thought. My server will detect the new certificate, install it and do its work as usual. Boy was I wrong.

After navigating to their webservices using a browser, I immediately got the certificate error. Again no problem I thought. I’ll just install the certificate manually. Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem. So I went online searching for a solution. Yet the steps other online articles took weren’t very clear to get to the solution. Therefore I’m posting this tip.

I was given the error "Certificate not issued by a trusted Certificate Authority" and "Certificate cannot be trusted up to a certificate Authority" on a Windows Server 2008 R2.

What is a SSL “Secure socket layer” certificate?

SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol (over port 443) and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.

How does a SSL Certificate work?

A CA “Certification Authority” issues a certificate to a domain. It verifies the domain because the (web)server that needs a certificate generates a certificate request. The certificate is then mailed by the CA to info@domainname.ext or admin@domainname.ext. This two layer verification prevents the certificate from falling into the hands of a miscellaneous domain or user.

The certificate holds a path within. This may sound strange but is actually quite logical (took me a while to figure it out “I’m not that smart”) Anyone can issue a certificate. But just because you issue a certificate does not mean the certificate is valid. Only a certificate issued by a valid CA is valid.

I can hear you thinking, who decides which CA is valid and which ones are not?

That would be you! You decide which CAs can be trusted to issue a certificate. Microsoft automatically installs a few of these CAs on your computer as trusted. There are only a few CAs that are commonly used like:  

CA Market percentage 2012, Inc. 21.72
GeoTrust, Inc. 15.21
Verisign 7.52
COMODO CA Limited 7.16

To prevent you from trusting a certificate that is issued by a CA, the CA holds a root certificate. There can also be additional certificated after that like, extended validation cert, third party, etc. After all that is the actual domain certificate that is issued to the holder / requester of the domain certificate. So you can see the path now

  • Root certificate CA
    • Any other certificates (can be more than one)  
      • Domain certificate

The image below shows how this can be viewed on the webpage. Just click on the little lock next to the URL. Then click view certificates and the below image will appear.

As you can see, there are actually three certificates used to validate the website you are requesting.

The website you are visiting only (in this case) provides the certificate. The other two certificates were already on your computer. This is how the certificate was validated by your computer.

What causes the error then?

Well, you should probably have figured out that you are missing one of the first two certificates. Therefore, the domain certificate could not be verified. Giving the error “Not issued by a trusted CA”.

How do I make the CA trusted then?

You’ll have to download the root certificate from the CA that issued the domain certificate and install it. You will not be able to see that certificate on the computer that gives the certificate error. Simply because it isn’t installed. You’ll have to download it from the website that issued the domain certificate. Just Google it: “download comodo root certificate”, ” download godaddy root certificate”, etc.

How do I install it?

After you downloaded the certificate, double click on it. Then click Install certificate. You will be prompted with a wizard raising the question where you want to install it. Select the archive option.

Click on Browse. If available, select the “Show physical archive selectionbox”. Then select within the tree options: Trusted Certification Authorities à local computer

Now that you have done this, we should check if all the certificates are in the right place.

Go to Start en type “mmc”. A console application will start up. Within the console application, do the following. Go to File -> Actions -> Add snap ins.

Another window will open. Select “Certificates”. You will be given three options. Current User, Local computer and applications. Select the Current user. Then perform the same action for Local computer.

On both options, you will find a folder called “Trusted Certificate Authorities”. As we did earlier, we installed the certificates on a local computer. That means it should be available for users as well. Check this and if you’re missing a certificate, copy and paste it in the User item or local computer item as needed.

Restart your browser and navigate to the website that was giving the certificate error. After that, everything should work perfect. I hope it helps.

Good luck ...


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Danny Prager
Netherlands Netherlands
No Biography provided

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