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jackal - certificate cloner - K Sheldrake

Copyright (C) 2018  Kevin Sheldrake

This file is part of jackal.

Jackal is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2
of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301, USA.


jackal clones SSL certificates.  The purpose is to automate and simplify a
step in the SSL MITM process.

SSL/TLS connections are established on trust provided by the certificates that
are exchanged.  Typically the server sends a certificate to the client for
verification.  All certificates are signed by another certificate. 
Self-signed certificates are signed by themselves; in all other cases, an end
user cerficate is signed by an intermediate certificate authority, which is
in-turn signed by other intermediates, the last of which is signed by a root
certificate authority.  The root certificate authority is self-signed and
should be available to the tool or client that wants to verify the end user

To verify an end user certificate a tool or client finds the certificate that
signed it, and then recursively verifies that.  If any of the certificates are
contained in the CA store, the certificate is deemed to have a valid
signature.  There are other checks, such as validity dates and confirmation of
the end user certificate details to ensure the right certificate is in use.

Man-in-the-middle attacks are possible if the certificate verification
routines are flawed or if it is possible to add a fake CA to the CA store. 
In order to effect such an attack, certificates that mimic the real
certificates are required.  This tool, jackal, makes fake certificates that
are identical to the originals except for the change of keys.

Supported platforms:
* 32bit (Arch) linux
* 64bit (Arch && Kali) linux
Expecting it to work on any other platforms is very optimistic of you.

Obtain certficate chain

Obtain a certificate chain from a SSL server with something like:
$ openssl s_client -connect -showcerts < /dev/null > certs

The file certs will then contain the s_client output including the certs in
PEM format.  Jackal can take this file and clone the certificates within it.

Create a new CA

Create a new CA with:
$ openssl genrsa -des3 -out ca.key 2048
$ openssl req -new -x509 -days 3650 -key ca.key -out ca.pem

Check certificate with:
$ openssl x509 -in certificate.pem -noout -text

Verify certificate trust with:
$ openssl verify -CAfile ca.pem -untrusted intermediatecas.pem certificate.pem

Cloning options

Jackal only deals with the certificates you supply; it will not go foraging
for missing CA certificates.  If the certificate chain you have obtained is
lacking the CA certificate, then you may need to obtain it yourself from the
trusted CA store and add it to the end of the file (depending on whether you
also want to clone the chain's CA or not).  The cloning options are:

Leaf certificate (-sl): Jackal will clone the leaf certficate (the server
certificate) and ignore the rest of the chain.  If a CA is supplied (with key,
obvs) then it will sign the new certificate with the supplied CA; otherwise,
it will self-sign the cert.

Chain (-sc): Jackal will clone the entire certificate chain.  If a CA is
supplied, it will then sign the root of the chain with the supplied CA;
otherwise, it will self-sign the root of the chain.

Resign (-sr): Jackal will clone the certificate chain, but will replace the
root of the chain with the supplied CA.

Output filename spec

Options -sl, -sc and -sr take an output filespec option, -o.

Option -sl outputs one certificate and an associated key.  It appends '.pem'
and '.key' to the filespec.
Options -sc and -sr output multiple certificates, each with associated keys.
Jackal appends '.n.pem' and '.n.key' to the filespec, numbering each
certificate in the new chain, starting with the leaf certificate as 0 and
increasing with each certificate in the chain.


$ jackal -sc -c certfile -o clonefile -C newca.pem -K newca.key

Jackal will clone the certificate chain in certfile, signing it with newca,
and output the certificates to clonefile.0.pem/key, clonefile.1.pem/key, etc.

Command Line Arguments

-c certificate

Specifies the input certificate to clone.  If no other options are given,
jackal will simply display the leaf certificate in the file (not as nice as
openssl x509 -text but hey).  The certificate file must be in PEM format, but
jackal will silently ignore anything it doesn't recognise so other guff in
there is usually acceptable.

-sl / -sc / -sr

Specifies the kind of cloning to perform: leaf, chain, or resign.

-o outputfilespec

Specifies the prefix for the output clone certificate files.

-C newCAcert / -K newCAkey

Specifies the CA certificate and key to use in signing operations.

Support / Patches

The latest version of the code can be found at and github/rtfcode.

No support is offered, but if you report bugs I may try to fix them.  Patches
are especially welcome.  Feature requests are best accompanied with a working
patch.  I'm more likely to work on it if I have beer; see for


Version 1.3 has corrected version numbers, etc.
Version 1.2 properly supports openssl 1.1.0; prev version was a half-arsed
attempt at a fix/port and was mostly rubbish.  This version actually compiles
and appears to work.
Version 1.1 supports openssl 1.1.0; someone sneakily took away ->extra_certs
and that broke version 1.0.

Contact details are at


SSL certificate cloner




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