X.509 Certificate Linter based on CA/B Forum Baseline Requirements and RFC 5280
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magic679 and titanous Update to tests to conform with RFC5891 (#232)
* Update to tests to conform RFC5891

* Add new RFC to base

* Update source and reference date for new RFC

* Fix failing test

* Add new pem files for test
Latest commit 12b8dc0 Jun 29, 2018



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ZLint is a X.509 certificate linter written in Go that checks for consistency with RFC 5280 and the CA/Browser Forum Baseline Requirements (v.1.4.8).

A detailed list of BR coverage can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ywp0op9mkTaggigpdF2YMTubepowJ50KQBhc_b00e-Y.

Command Line Usage

ZLint can be used on the command-line through a simple bundled executable ZLint as well as through ZCertificate, a more full-fledged command-line certificate parser that links against ZLint.

Example ZLint CLI usage:

go get github.com/zmap/zlint/cmd/zlint
zlint mycert.pem

Library Usage

ZLint can also be used as a library:

import (

parsed, err := x509.ParseCertificate(raw)
if err != nil {
	// The certificate could not be parsed. Either error or halt.
	log.Fatalf("could not parse certificate: %s", err)
zlintResultSet := zlint.LintCertificate(parsed)

See https://github.com/zmap/zlint/blob/master/cmd/zlint/main.go for an example.

Adding New Lints

Generating Lint Scaffolding. The scaffolding for a new lints can be created by running ./newLint.sh <lint_name> <structName>. Lint names are generally of the form e_subject_common_name_not_from_san where the first letter is one of: e, w, or n (error, warning, or notice respectively). Struct names following Go conventions, e.g., subjectCommonNameNotFromSAN. Example: ./newLint.sh e_subject_common_name_not_from_san subjectCommonNameNotFromSAN. This will generate a new lint in the lints directory with the necessary fields filled out.

Scoping a Lint. Lints are executed in three steps. First, the ZLint framework determines whether a certificate falls within the scope of a given lint by calling CheckApplies. This is often used to scope lints to only check subscriber, intermediate CA, or root CAs. This function commonly calls one of a select number of helper functions: IsCA, IsSubscriber, IsExtInCert, or DNSNamesExist. Example:

func (l *caCRLSignNotSet) CheckApplies(c *x509.Certificate) bool {
	return c.IsCA && util.IsExtInCert(c, util.KeyUsageOID)

Next, the framework determines whether the certificate was issued after the effective date of a Lint by checking whether the certificate was issued prior to the lint's EffectiveDate. You'll also need to fill out the source and description of what the lint is checking. We encourage you to copy text directly from the BR or RFC here. Example:

func init() {
		Name:          "e_ca_country_name_missing",
		Description:   "Root and Subordinate CA certificates MUST have a countryName present in subject information",
		Citation:      "BRs:",
		EffectiveDate: util.CABEffectiveDate,
		Test:          &caCountryNameMissing{},

The meat of the lint is contained within the RunTest function, which is passed x509.Certificate. Note: This is an X.509 object from ZCrypto not the Go standard library. Lints should perform their described test and then return a ResultStruct that contains a Result and optionally a Details string, e.g., ResultStruct{Result: Pass}. If you encounter a situation in which you typically would return a Go error object, instead return ResultStruct{Result: Fatal}.


func (l *caCRLSignNotSet) RunTest(c *x509.Certificate) *ResultStruct {
	if c.KeyUsage&x509.KeyUsageCRLSign != 0 {
		return &ResultStruct{Result: Pass}
	return &ResultStruct{Result: Error}

Creating Tests. Every lint should also have two corresponding tests for a success and failure condition. We have typically generated test certificates using Go (see https://golang.org/pkg/crypto/x509/#CreateCertificate for details), but OpenSSL could also be used. Test certificates should be placed in testlint/testCerts and called from the test file created by newLint.sh. Prepend the PEM with the output of openssl x509 -text.


func TestBasicConstNotCritical(t *testing.T) {
	// Only need to change these two values and the lint name
	inputPath := "../testlint/testCerts/caBasicConstNotCrit.pem"
	expected := Error
	out, _ := Lints["e_basic_constraints_not_critical"].ExecuteTest(ReadCertificate(inputPath))
	if out.Result != expected {
		t.Errorf("%s: expected %s, got %s", inputPath, expected, out.Status)

License and Copyright

ZMap Copyright 2017 Regents of the University of Michigan

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See LICENSE for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.