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win-ca

Get Windows System Root certificates

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win-ca

Build Status Build status NPM version Store Roots

Get Windows System Root certificates for Node.js.

Rationale

Unlike Ruby, Node.js on Windows allows HTTPS requests out-of-box. But it is implemented in a rather bizarre way:

Node uses a statically compiled, manually updated, hardcoded list of certificate authorities, rather than relying on the system's trust store... Read more

It's somewhat non-intuitive under any OS, but Windows differs from most of them by having its own trust store, fully incompatible with OpenSSL.

This package is intended to fetch Root CAs from Windows' store (Trusted Root Certification Authorities) and make them available to Node.js application with minimal efforts.

Advantages

  • No internet access is required at all
  • Windows store is updated automatically (in most modern environments)
  • Manually installed Root certificates are used
  • Enterpise trusted certificates (GPO etc.) are made available too

Usage

For 95% of users:

  1. Just say npm install --save win-ca
  2. Then call require('win-ca').
  3. That's it!

If you need more - proceed to API section below.

By the way, win-ca is safe to be used under other OSes (not M$ Windows). It does nothing there.

Electron

win-ca was adapted to run inside Electron applications with no additional configuration (asar supported).

See Minimal Electron application using win-ca for usage example.

VS Code extension

Special extension for VS Code was created to import win-ca in context of VS Code's Extension Host.

Since all VS Code extensions share the same process, root certificates imported by one of them are immediately available to others. This can allow VS Code extensions to connect to (properly configured) intranet sites from Windows machines.

API

Click to view...

First versions of win-ca opened Windows' Trusted Root Certificate Store, fetched certificates, deduplicated them and installed to https.globalAgent.options.ca, so they are automatically used for all requests with Node.js' https module.

But sometimes one needs to get these certificates to do something else. For that case, full featured API was devised. It is the only function with numerous parameters and operation modes, eg:

const ca = require('win-ca')

rootCAs = []
// Fetch all certificates in PEM format
ca({
  format: ca.der2.pem,
  ondata: crt => rootCAs.push(crt)
})

Entry points

win-ca offers three ways of importing:

  1. Regular require('win-ca')
  2. Fallback require('win-ca/fallback')
  3. Pure API require('win-ca/api')

They all export the same API, but differ in initialization:

  1. win-ca does fetch certificates from Root store, saves them to disk and makes them available to https module with no effort.

  2. win-ca/fallback does the same, but it never uses N-API for fetching certificates, so it should work in all versions of Node.js as well as inside Electron application.

  3. win-ca/api does nothing, just exports API, so you decide yourself what to do.

API Parameters

API function may be called with no parameters, but that makes little sense. One should pass it object with some fields, ie:

  • format defines representation of certificates to fetch. Available values are:

    ConstantValueMeaning
    der2.der0DER-format (binary, Node's Buffer)
    der2.pem1PEM-format (text, Base64-encoded)
    der2.txt2PEM-format plus some laconic header
    der2.asn13ASN.1-parsed certificate
    der2.x5094Certificate in node-forge format (RSA only!)

    Default value is der.

    See also der2 function below.

  • store - which Windows' store to use. Default is Root (ie Trusted Root Certification Authorities).

    Windows has a whole lot of Certificate stores (eg Root, CA, My, TrustedPublisher etc.) One can list certificates from any of them (knowing its name) or several stores at once (using array for store parameter).

    var list = []
    require('win-ca/api')({store: ['root', 'ca'], ondata: list})
    
  • unique whether certificates list should be deduplicated. Default is true (no duplicates returned).

    Use {unique: false} to see all certificates in store.

  • ondata - callback fired for each certificate found.

    Every certificate will be converted to format and passed as the first (the only) parameter.

    As a syntactic sugar, array can be passed instead of function, it will be populated with certificates.

  • onend - callback fired (with no parameters) at the end of retrieval

    Useful for asynchronous invocations, but works in any case.

  • fallback - boolean flag, indicating N-API shouldn't be used even if it is available.

    Default value depends on Node.js version (4, 5 and 7 {fallback: true}; modern versions {fallback: false}). It is also true if Electron is detected.

    Finally, if win-ca has been required as win-ca/fallback, default value for this flag is also set to true.

    Note, that one can force N-API by setting {fallback: false}, but if Node.js cannot proceed, exception will be thrown. It can be catched, but Node.js will nevertheless remain in unstable state, so beware.

  • async - boolean flag to make retrieval process asynchronous (false by default)

    If true, API call returns immediately, certificates will be fetched later and feed to ondata callback. Finally onend callback will be called.

  • generator - boolean flag to emulate ES6 generator (default: false)

    If called with this flag, ES6 iterator object is immediately returned (regular or asynchronous - according to async flag).

    const ca = require('win-ca/api')
    
    // Iterate
    for (let der of ca({generator: true})) {
      // Process(der)
    }
    
    // Or thus (Node.js v>=6)
    let list = [...ca({generator: true})]
    
    // Or even (Node.js v>=10)
    for await(let der of ca({generator: true, async: true})) {
      // await Process(der)
    }
    

    Note, that if callbacks are set along with generator flag, they will be also fired.

  • inject - how to install certificates (default: false, ie just fetch from store, do not install)

    If set to true, certificated fetched will be also added to https.globalAgent.options.ca (in PEM format, regardless of format parameter), so all subsequent calls to https client methods (https.request, https.get etc.) will silently use them instead of built-in ones.

    If set to '+', new experimental method is used instead: tls.createSecureContext() is patched and fetched certificates are used in addition to built-in ones (and not only for https, but for all secure connections).

    Injection mode can be later changed (or disabled) with .inject() helper function.

  • save - how to save certificates to disk (default: false, ie use no I/O at all)

    If set to string, or array of strings, they will be treated as list of candidate folders to save certificates to. First one that exists or can be (recursively) created will be used.

    If no valid folder path found, saving will be silently discarded.

    If {save: true} used, predefined list of folders will be tried:

    • pem folder inside win-ca module itself
    • .local/win-ca/pem folder inside user's profile

    Certificates will be stored into the folder in two formats:

    • Each certificate as separate text file with special file name (mimics behavour of OpenSSL's c_rehash utility) - suitable for SSL_CERT_DIR
    • All certificates in single roots.pem file - suitable for SSL_CERT_FILE

    If win-ca is required not via win-ca/api, it calls itself with {inject: true, save: true} and additionaly sets ca.path field and SSL_CERT_DIR environment variable to the folder with certificates saved.

  • onsave - callback called at the end of saving (if save is truthy).

    Path to a folder is passed to callback, or no parameters (undefined) if it has been impossible to save certificates to disk.

Helper functions

Some internal functions are exposed:

der2

var certificate = ca.der2(format, certificate_in_der_format)

Converts certificate from DER to format specified in first parameter.

Function .der2() is curried:

var toPEM = ca.der2(ca.der2.pem)

var pem = toPEM(der)

hash

var hash = ca.hash(version, certificate_in_der_format)

Gives certificate hash (aka X509_NAME_hash), ie 8-character hexadecimal string, derived from certificate subject.

If version (first parameter) is 0, an old algorithm is used (aka X509_NAME_hash_old, used in OpenSSL v0.*), else - the new one (X509_NAME_hash of OpenSSL v1.*).

Function .hash() is also curried:

var hasher = ca.hash()
console.log(hasher(der))

inject

ca.inject(mode)
// or:
ca.inject(mode, array_of_certificates)

Manages the way certificates are passed to other modules.

This function is internally called by API when {inject:} parameter used.

First argument (mode) is injection mode:

  • false: no injection, built-in certificates are used

  • true: put certificates to https.globalAgent.options.ca and use them instead of built-in ones for https module

  • '+': new experimental mode: tls.createSecureContext() is patched and certificates are used along with built-in ones. This mode should affect all secure connections, not just https module.

Second parameter (array_of_certificates) is list of certificates to inject. If it is omitted, previous list is used (only inject mode is changed).

For example, simplest way to test new injection mode is:

const ca = require('win-ca') // Fetch certificates and start injecting (old way)

ca.inject('+') // Switch to new injection mode

Note, that this function should be called before first secure connection is established, since every secure connection populates different caches, that are extremely hard to invalidate. Changing injection mode in the middle of secure communication can lead to unpredictable results.

exe

Applications that use win-ca are sometimes packed / bundled. In this case one should find appropriate place for binary utility roots.exe (used in fallback mode, which is always the case with Electron apps) and then make win-ca to find the binary.

Function .exe() is intended to provide this functionality. You must call it before first invocation of library itself, eg:

var ca = require('win-ca/api')

ca.exe('/full/path/to/roots.exe')
ca({fallback: true, inject: true})

.exe() with no parameters switches to default location (inside lib folder). In any case it returns previous path to roots.exe:

console.log(require('win-ca').exe()) // Where is my root.exe?

Legacy API

Click to view...

win-ca v2 had another API, which is preserved for compatibility, but discouraged to use. It consists of three functions:

  • Synchronous:
    • .all()
    • .each()
  • Asynchronous:
    • .each.async()
var ca = require('win-ca')

do.something.with(ca.all(ca.der2.pem))

Note:

  1. All three yield certificates in node-forge's format by default (unlike modern API, that returns DER if unspecified by user).

    Unfortunately, node-forge at the time of writing is unable to parse non-RSA certificates (namely, ECC certificates becoming more popular). If your Trusted Root Certification Authorities store contains modern certificates, legacy API calls will throw exception. To tackle the problem - pass them format as the first parameter.

  2. .all() deduplicates certificates (like regular API), while both .each calls may return duplicates ({unique: false} applied)

  3. Root store always used (no way for store: option)

  4. Both .each calls require callback (with optional format)

    Synchronous .each() callback gets single argument - certificate (in specified format)

      var ca = require('win-ca')
      ca.each(ca.der2.x509, crt=>
        console.log(crt.serialNumber)
      )
    

    Asynchronous .each.async() callback gets two parameters:

    • error (which is always undefined in this version)
    • result - certificate in requested format or undefined to signal end of retrieval
    let ca = require('win-ca')
    
    ca.each.async((error, crt)=> {
      if (error) throw error;
      if(crt)
        console.log(forge.pki.certificateToPem(crt))
      else
        console.log("That's all folks!")
    })
    

N-API

Current version uses N-API, so it can be used in Node.js versions with N-API support, i.e. v6 and all versions starting from v8.

Thanks to N-API, it is possible to precompile Windows DLL and save it to package, so no compilation is needed at installation time.

For other Node.js versions (v4, 5 or 7) special fallback utility is called in the background to fetch the list anyway.

If you wish to use this fallback engine (even for modern Node.js), you can

require('win-ca/fallback')

Caveats

Windows 10 tends to have only a few certificates in its Trusted Root Certification Authorities store and lazily add them to it on first use.

If your OS does so, win-ca will still help to connect to your own sites (protected by self-signed certificates, or by the ones, distributed with GPO), but will make connection to well-known sites (like Google or Twitter) impossible!

The simplest remedy is to once open desired site in Internet Explorer / Google Chrome (certificate will be silently added to Root store).

Another option is to switch to new experimental injection method:

require('win-ca').inject('+')

Clear pem folder on publish

If you use win-ca in some Electron app or VS Code extension, be warned that node_modules/win-ca/pem folder is highly likely to be packed into your bundle with all root certificates on development machine.

You had better remove said folder before publishing (eg. in prepack npm script if it applies).

Building

  • npm install
  • npm run pretest
  • npm run nvm$
  • npm publish

This builds both x86 and x64 versions with N-API support. For older Node.js versions standalone binary utility is built.

See also

Credits

Uses node-forge and used to use node-ffi-napi (ancestor of node-ffi).

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