Product Documentation

Monitoring Certificate Status with OCSP

Apr 27, 2013

Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) is an Internet protocol that is used to determine the status of a client SSL certificate. NetScaler Gateway supports OCSP as defined in RFC 2560. OCSP offers significant advantages over certificate revocation lists (CRLs) in terms of timely information. Up-to-date revocation status of a client certificate is especially useful in transactions involving large sums of money and high-value stock trades. It also uses fewer system and network resources. NetScaler Gateway implementation of OCSP includes request batching and response caching.

NetScaler Gateway Implementation of OCSP

OCSP validation on an NetScaler Gateway appliance begins when NetScaler Gateway receives a client certificate during an SSL handshake. To validate the certificate, NetScaler Gateway creates an OCSP request and forwards it to the OCSP responder. To do so, NetScaler Gateway either extracts the URL for the OCSP responder from the client certificate or uses a locally configured URL. The transaction is in a suspended state until NetScaler Gateway evaluates the response from the server and determines whether to allow the transaction or to reject it. If the response from the server is delayed beyond the configured time and no other responders are configured, NetScaler Gateway allows the transaction or displays an error, depending on whether you set the OCSP check to optional or mandatory. NetScaler Gateway supports batching of OCSP requests and caching of OCSP responses to reduce the load on the OCSP responder and provide faster responses.

OCSP Request Batching

Each time NetScaler Gateway receives a client certificate, it sends a request to the OCSP responder. To help avoid overloading the OCSP responder, NetScaler Gateway can query the status of more than one client certificate in the same request. For request batching to work efficiently, you need to define a time-out so that processing of a single certificate is not delayed while waiting to form a batch.

OCSP Response Caching

Caching of responses received from the OCSP responder enables faster responses to the user and reduces the load on the OCSP responder. Upon receiving the revocation status of a client certificate from the OCSP responder, NetScaler Gateway caches the response locally for a predefined length of time. When a client certificate is received during an SSL handshake, NetScaler Gateway first checks its local cache for an entry for this certificate. If an entry is found that is still valid (within the cache time-out limit), the entry is evaluated and the client certificate is accepted or rejected. If a certificate is not found, NetScaler Gateway sends a request to the OCSP responder and stores the response in its local cache for a configured length of time.