Configure and use PKCS certificates with Intune

Intune supports the use of private and public key pair (PKCS) certificates. This article can help you configure the required infrastructure like on-premises certificate connectors, export a PKCS certificate, and then add the certificate to an Intune device configuration profile.

Microsoft Intune includes built-in settings to use PKCS certificates for access and authentication to your organizations resources. Certificates authenticate and secure access to your corporate resources like a VPN or a WiFi network. You deploy these settings to devices using device configuration profiles in Intune.

Requirements

To use PKCS certificates with Intune, you'll need the following infrastructure:

  • Active Directory domain: All servers listed in this section must be joined to your Active Directory domain.

    For more information about installing and configuring Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS), see AD DS Design and Planning.

  • Certification Authority: An Enterprise Certification Authority (CA).

    For information on installing and configuring Active Directory Certificate Services (AD CS), see Active Directory Certificate Services Step-by-Step Guide.

    Warning

    Intune requires you to run AD CS with an Enterprise Certification Authority (CA), not a Standalone CA.

  • A client: To connect to the Enterprise CA.

  • Root certificate: An exported copy of your root certificate from your Enterprise CA.

  • Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector: In the Intune portal, go to Device configuration > Certificate Connectors > Add, and follow the Steps to install the connector for PKCS #12. Use the download link in the portal to start download of the certificate connector installer NDESConnectorSetup.exe.

  • This connector processes PKCS certificate requests used for authentication or S/MIME email signing.

    The NDES certificate connector also supports Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) mode. FIPS isn't required, but you can issue and revoke certificates when it's enabled.

  • Imported PFX Certificates Connector for Microsoft Intune: If you plan to use S/MIME email encryption, use the Intune portal to download the connector for Imported PFX certificates. Go to Device configuration > Certificate Connectors > Add, and follow the Steps to install connector for Imported PFX certificates. Use the download link in the portal to start download of the installer PfxCertificateConnectorBootstrapper.exe.

    This connector handles requests for PFX files imported to Intune for S/MIME email encryption for a specific user.

    This connector can automatically update itself when new versions become available. To use the update capability, you must:

    • Install the Imported PFX Certificates Connector for Microsoft Intune on your server.
    • To automatically receive important updates, ensure firewalls are open that allow the connector to contact autoupdate.msappproxy.net on port 443.
  • Windows Server: You use a Windows Server to host:

    • Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector - for authentication and S/MIME email signing scenarios
    • PFX Certificate Connector for Microsoft Intune - for S/MIME email encryption scenarios.

    You can install both connectors (Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector and Imported PFX Certificates Connector) on the same server.

Export the root certificate from the Enterprise CA

To authenticate a device with VPN, WiFi, or other resources, a device needs a root or intermediate CA certificate. The following steps explain how to get the required certificate from your Enterprise CA.

  1. Sign in to your Enterprise CA with an account that has administrative privileges.

  2. Open a command prompt as an administrator.

  3. Export the Root CA Certificate (.cer) to a location where you can access it later.

  4. After the wizard completes, but before closing the wizard, click Launch the Certificate Connector UI.

    certutil -ca.cert certnew.cer

    For more information, see Certutil tasks for managing certificates.

Configure certificate templates on the CA

  1. Sign in to your Enterprise CA with an account that has administrative privileges.

  2. Open the Certification Authority console, right-click Certificate Templates, and select Manage.

  3. Find the User certificate template, right-click it, and choose Duplicate Template. Properties of New Template opens.

    Note

    For S/MIME email signing and encryption scenarios, many administrators use separate certificates for signing and encryption. If you're using Microsoft Active Directory Certificate Services, you can use the Exchange Signature Only template for S/MIME email signing certificates, and the Exchange User template for S/MIME encryption certificates. If you're using a 3rd-party certification authority, it's suggested to review their guidance to set up signing and encryption templates.

  4. On the Compatibility tab:

    • Set Certification Authority to Windows Server 2008 R2
    • Set Certificate recipient to Windows 7 / Server 2008 R2
  5. On the General tab, set Template display name to something meaningful to you.

    Warning

    Template name by default is the same as Template display name with no spaces. Note the template name, you need it later.

  6. In Request Handling, select Allow private key to be exported.

  7. In Cryptography, confirm that the Minimum key size is set to 2048.

  8. In Subject Name, choose Supply in the request.

  9. In Extensions, confirm that you see Encrypting File System, Secure Email, and Client Authentication under Application Policies.

    Important

    For iOS certificate templates, go to the Extensions tab, update Key Usage, and confirm that Signature is proof of origin isn't selected.

  10. In Security, add the Computer Account for the server where you install the Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector. Allow this account Read and Enroll permissions.

  11. Select Apply > OK to save the certificate template. Close the Certificate Templates Console.

  12. In the Certification Authority console, right-click Certificate Templates > New > Certificate Template to Issue. Choose the template that you created in the previous steps. Select OK.

  13. For the server to manage certificates for enrolled devices and users, use the following steps:

    1. Right-click the Certification Authority, choose Properties.
    2. On the security tab, add the Computer account of the server where you run the connectors (Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector or PFX Certificate Connector for Microsoft Intune).
    3. Grant Issue and Manage Certificates and Request Certificates Allow permissions to the computer account.
  14. Sign out of the Enterprise CA.

Download, install, and configure the certificate connectors

Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector

Important

The Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector cannot be installed on the issuing Certificate Authority (CA), and instead must be installed on a separate Windows server.

  1. In the Azure portal, select All services, filter on Intune > select Intune.

  2. Select Device configuration > Certification Connectors > Add.

  3. Download and save the connector file to a location you can access from the server where you're going to install the connector.

    NDES connector download

  4. After the download completes, sign in to the server. Then:

    1. Be sure .NET 4.5 Framework or higher is installed, as it's required by the NDES Certificate connector. .NET 4.5 Framework is automatically included with Windows Server 2012 R2 and newer versions.
    2. Run the installer (NDESConnectorSetup.exe), and accept the default location. It installs the connector to \Program Files\Microsoft Intune\NDESConnectorUI. In Installer Options, select PFX Distribution. Continue and complete the installation.
    3. By default, the connector service runs under the local system account. If a proxy is required to access the internet, confirm that the local service account can access the proxy settings on the server.
  5. The NDES Connector opens the Enrollment tab. To enable the connection to Intune, Sign In, and enter an account with global administrative permissions.

  6. On the Advanced tab, it's recommended to leave Use this computer's SYSTEM account (default) selected.

  7. Apply > Close

  8. Go back to the Intune portal (Intune > Device Configuration > Certification Connectors). After a few moments, a green check mark is shown, and the Connection status is Active. Your connector server can now communicate with Intune.

  9. If you have a web proxy in your networking environment, you might need additional configurations to enable the connector to work. For more information, see Work with existing on-premises proxy servers in the Azure Active Directory documentation.

Note

The Microsoft Intune Certificate Connector supports TLS 1.2. If TLS 1.2 is installed on the server that hosts the Connector, the connector uses TLS 1.2. Otherwise, TLS 1.1 is used. Currently, TLS 1.1 is used for authentication between the devices and server.

PFX Certificate Connector for Microsoft Intune

  1. In the Azure portal, select All services, filter on Intune, and select Microsoft Intune.

  2. Select Device configuration > Certification Connectors > Add

  3. Download and save the PFX Certificate Connector for Microsoft Intune. Save it to a location accessible from the server where you're going to install the connector.

  4. After the download completes, sign in to the server. Then:

    1. Be sure .NET 4.6 Framework or higher is installed, as it's required by the PFX Certificate Connector for Microsoft Intune. If .NET 4.6 Framework isn't installed, the installer installs it automatically.
    2. Run the installer (PfxCertificateConnectorBootstrapper.exe), and accept the default location, which installs the connector to Program Files\Microsoft Intune\PFXCertificateConnector.
    3. The connector service runs under the local system account. If a proxy is required for internet access, then confirm that the local service account can access the proxy settings on the server.
  5. The PFX Certificate Connector for Microsoft Intune opens the Enrollment tab after installation. To enable the connection to Intune, Sign In, and enter an account with Azure global administrator or Intune administrator permissions.

  6. Close the window.

  7. Go back to the Azure portal (Intune > Device Configuration > Certification Connectors). After a few moments, a green check mark is shown, and the Connection status is Active. Your connector server can now communicate with Intune.

Create a trusted certificate profile

  1. In the Azure portal, go to Intune > Device configuration > Profiles > Create profile. Navigate to Intune and create a new profile for a trusted certificate

  2. Enter the following properties:

    • Name for the profile
    • Optionally set a description
    • Platform to deploy the profile to
    • Set Profile type to Trusted certificate
  3. Go to Settings, and enter the .cer file Root CA Certificate you previously exported.

    Note

    Depending on the platform you chose in Step 3, you may or may not have an option to choose the Destination store for the certificate.

    Create a profile and upload a trusted certificate

  4. Select OK > Create to save your profile.

  5. To assign the new profile to one or more devices, see assign Microsoft Intune device profiles.

Create a PKCS certificate profile

  1. In the Azure portal, go to Intune > Device configuration > Profiles > Create profile.

  2. Enter the following properties:

    • Name for the profile
    • Optionally set a description
    • Platform to deploy the profile to
    • Set Profile type to PKCS certificate
  3. Go to Settings, and enter the following properties:

    • Renewal threshold (%): Recommended is 20%.
    • Certificate validity period: If you didn't change the certificate template, this option may be set to one year.
    • Key storage provider (KSP): For Windows, select where to store the keys on the device.
    • Certification authority: Displays the internal fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of your Enterprise CA.
    • Certification authority name: Lists the name of your Enterprise CA, such as "Contoso Certification Authority".
    • Certificate template name: The name of the template created earlier. Remember Template name by default is the same as Template display name with no spaces.
    • Subject name format: Set this option to Common name unless otherwise required.
    • Subject alternative name: Set this option to User principal name (UPN) unless otherwise required.
  4. Select OK > Create to save your profile.

  5. To assign the new profile to one or more devices, see assign Microsoft Intune device profiles.

Create a PKCS imported certificate profile

You can import certificates previously issued to a specific user from any CA in to Intune. Imported certificates are installed on each device that a user enrolls. S/MIME email encryption is the most common scenario for importing existing PFX certificates in to Intune. A user may have many certificates to encrypt email. The private keys of those certificates must exist on all of a user's devices so they can decrypt previously encrypted email.

To import certificates into Intune, you can use the PowerShell cmdlets provided on GitHub.

After importing the certificates to Intune, create a PKCS imported certificate profile, and assign it to Azure Active Directory groups.

  1. In the Azure portal, go to Intune > Device configuration > Profiles > Create profile.

  2. Enter the following properties:

    • Name for the profile
    • Optionally set a description
    • Platform to deploy the profile to
    • Set Profile type to PKCS imported certificate
  3. Go to Settings, and enter the following properties:

    • Intended purpose: The intended purpose of the certificates that are imported for this profile. An administrator may have imported certificates with different intended purposes (such as authentication, S/MIME signing, or S/MIME encryption). The intended purpose selected in the certificate profile matches the certificate profile with the right imported certificates.
    • Certificate validity period: If you didn't change the certificate template, this option may be set to one year.
    • Key storage provider (KSP): For Windows, select where to store the keys on the device.
  4. Select OK > Create to save your profile.

  5. To assign the new profile to one or more devices, see assign Microsoft Intune device profiles.

Next steps

The profile is created, but it's not doing anything yet. Next, assign the profile and monitor its status.

Use SCEP certificates, or issue PKCS certificates from a Symantec PKI manager web service.