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Secure Programming Cookbook for C and C++ by Matt Messier, John Viega

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10.5. Performing X.509 Certificate Verification with OpenSSL

Problem

You have an X.509 certificate and you want to verify its validity using OpenSSL.

Solution

OpenSSL represents an X.509 certificate using an X509 object. Another object, an X509_STORE, must be combined with the X509 object to be verified into an X509_STORE_CTX object. An X509_STORE object contains the certificates that OpenSSL will use to verify the certificate under scrutiny, as well as an optional CRL. The X509_STORE_CTX object simply combines the X509_STORE and X509 objects. The actual certificate verification is performed by calling X509_verify_cert( ) and passing it the X509_STORE_CTX object.

Discussion

Actually performing the certificate verification requires a significant amount of setup work. Much of the work should not really be necessary, but there are some issues with the current version of OpenSSL that need to be addressed. The OpenSSL team is aware of the problems we have encountered, and we anticipate that they will be fixed at some point in the future, but unfortunately, we do not know when that might be.

OpenSSL provides a set of functions for manipulating X509_STORE objects, and we will be using them, but in versions of OpenSSL up to and including the initial release of 0.9.7, no X.509 objects are reference counted while other OpenSSL objects (including EVP_PKEY, SSL_CTX, and many others) are. This presents a problem for us because much of the code that we will be presenting needs to have only a single ...

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