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Cert Spotter is a Certificate Transparency log monitor from SSLMate that
alerts you when a SSL/TLS certificate is issued for one of your domains.
Cert Spotter is easier than other open source CT monitors, since it does
not require a database.  It's also more robust, since it uses a special
certificate parser that ensures it won't miss certificates.

Cert Spotter is also available as a hosted service by SSLMate that
requires zero setup and provides an easy web dashboard to centrally
manage your certificates.  Visit <>
to sign up.

You can use Cert Spotter to detect:

* Certificates issued to attackers who have compromised your DNS and
  are redirecting your visitors to their malicious site.

* Certificates issued to attackers who have taken over an abandoned
  sub-domain in order to serve malware under your name.

* Certificates issued to attackers who have compromised a certificate
  authority and want to impersonate your site.

* Certificates issued in violation of your corporate policy
  or outside of your centralized certificate procurement process.


The easiest way to use Cert Spotter is to sign up for an account at
<>.  If you want to run Cert Spotter on
your own server, follow these instructions.

Cert Spotter requires Go version 1.17 or higher.

1. Install Cert Spotter using the `go` command:

	go install

2. Create a file called ~/.certspotter/watchlist listing the DNS names
   you want to monitor, one per line.  To monitor an entire domain tree
   (including the domain itself and all sub-domains) prefix the domain
   name with a dot (e.g. "").  To monitor a single DNS name
   only, do not prefix the name with a dot.

3. Create a cron job to periodically run `certspotter`.  See below for
   command line options.

Every time you run Cert Spotter, it scans all browser-recognized
Certificate Transparency logs for certificates matching domains on
your watch list.  When Cert Spotter detects a matching certificate, it
writes a report to standard out, which the Cron daemon emails to you.
Make sure you are able to receive emails sent by Cron.

Cert Spotter also saves a copy of matching certificates in
~/.certspotter/certs (unless you specify the -no_save option).

When Cert Spotter has previously monitored a log, it scans the log
from the previous position, to avoid downloading the same log entry
more than once.  (To override this behavior and scan all logs from the
beginning, specify the -all_time option.)

When Cert Spotter has not previously monitored a log, it can either start
monitoring the log from the beginning, or seek to the end of the log and
start monitoring from there.  Monitoring from the beginning guarantees
detection of all certificates, but requires downloading hundreds of
millions of certificates, which takes days.  The default behavior is to
monitor from the beginning.  To start monitoring new logs from the end,
specify the -start_at_end option.

You can add and remove domains on your watchlist at any time.  However,
the certspotter command only notifies you of certificates that were
logged since adding a domain to the watchlist, unless you specify the
-all_time option, which requires scanning the entirety of every log
and takes many days to complete with a fast Internet connection.
To examine preexisting certificates, it's better to use the Cert
Spotter service <>, the Cert Spotter
API <>, or a CT search engine such
as <>.


  -watchlist FILENAME
	File containing identifiers to watch, one per line, as described
	above (use - to read from stdin).  Default: ~/.certspotter/watchlist
	Do not save a copy of matching certificates.
	Start monitoring logs from the end, rather than the beginning.
	This significantly reduces the time to run Cert Spotter, but
	you will miss certificates that were added to a log before Cert
	Spotter started monitoring it.
	Scan for certificates from all time, not just those logged since
	the previous run of Cert Spotter.
	Filename of HTTPS URL of a JSON file containing logs to monitor, in the format
	documented at <>.
	Default: which includes the union
	of active logs recognized by Chrome and Apple.
  -state_dir PATH
	Directory for storing state. Default: ~/.certspotter
	Be verbose.


Any certificate that is logged to a Certificate Transparency log trusted
by Chromium will be detected by Cert Spotter.  All certificates issued
after April 30, 2018 must be logged to such a log to be trusted by Chromium.

Generally, certificate authorities will automatically submit certificates
to logs so that they will work in Chromium.  In addition, certificates
that are discovered during Internet-wide scans are submitted to Certificate
Transparency logs.


Cert Spotter assumes an adversarial model in which an attacker produces
a certificate that is accepted by at least some clients but goes
undetected because of an encoding error that prevents CT monitors from
understanding it.  To defend against this attack, Cert Spotter uses a
special certificate parser that keeps the certificate unparsed except
for the identifiers.  If one of the identifiers matches a domain on your
watchlist, you will be notified, even if other parts of the certificate
are unparsable.

Cert Spotter takes special precautions to ensure identifiers are parsed
correctly, and implements defenses against identifier-based attacks.
For instance, if a DNS identifier contains a null byte, Cert Spotter
interprets it as two identifiers: the complete identifier, and the
identifier formed by truncating at the first null byte.  For example, a
certificate for\ will alert the owners of both and  This defends against null prefix attacks

SSLMate continuously monitors CT logs to make sure every certificate's
identifiers can be successfully parsed, and will release updates to
Cert Spotter as necessary to fix parsing failures.

Cert Spotter understands wildcard and redacted DNS names, and will alert
you if a wildcard or redacted certificate might match an identifier on
your watchlist.  For example, a watchlist entry for would
match certificates for * or ?

Cert Spotter is not just a log monitor, but also a log auditor which
checks that the log is obeying its append-only property.  A future
release of Cert Spotter will support gossiping with other log monitors
to ensure the log is presenting a single view.


Cert Spotter can also notify users of bygone SSL certificates, which are SSL
certificates that outlived their prior domain owner's registration into the
next owners registration. To detect these certificates add a valid_at
argument to each domain in the watchlist followed by the date the domain was
registered in the following format YYYY-MM-DD. For example: valid_at:2014-05-02