skiphoppy skiphoppy - 2 months ago 11
Java Question

How can I use different certificates on specific connections?

A module I'm adding to our large Java application has to converse with another company's SSL-secured website. The problem is that the site uses a self-signed certificate. I have a copy of the certificate to verify that I'm not encountering a man-in-the-middle attack, and I need to incorporate this certificate into our code in such a way that the connection to the server will be successful.

Here's the basic code:

void sendRequest(String dataPacket) {
String urlStr = "";
URL url = new URL(urlStr);
HttpURLConnection conn = (HttpURLConnection)url.openConnection();
conn.setRequestProperty("Content-Length", data.length());
OutputStreamWriter o = new OutputStreamWriter(conn.getOutputStream());

Without any additional handling in place for the self-signed certificate, this dies at conn.getOutputStream() with the following exception:

Exception in thread "main" PKIX path building failed: unable to find valid certification path to requested target
Caused by: PKIX path building failed: unable to find valid certification path to requested target
Caused by: unable to find valid certification path to requested target

Ideally, my code needs to teach Java to accept this one self-signed certificate, for this one spot in the application, and nowhere else.

I know that I can import the certificate into the JRE's certificate authority store, and that will allow Java to accept it. That's not an approach I want to take if I can help; it seems very invasive to do on all of our customer's machines for one module they may not use; it would affect all other Java applications using the same JRE, and I don't like that even though the odds of any other Java application ever accessing this site are nil. It's also not a trivial operation: on UNIX I have to obtain access rights to modify the JRE in this way.

I've also seen that I can create a TrustManager instance that does some custom checking. It looks like I might even be able to create a TrustManager that delegates to the real TrustManager in all instances except this one certificate. But it looks like that TrustManager gets installed globally, and I presume would affect all other connections from our application, and that doesn't smell quite right to me, either.

What is the preferred, standard, or best way to set up a Java application to accept a self-signed certificate? Can I accomplish all of the goals I have in mind above, or am I going to have to compromise? Is there an option involving files and directories and configuration settings, and little-to-no code?


Create an SSLSocket factory yourself, and set it on the HttpsURLConnection before connecting.

HttpsURLConnection conn = (HttpsURLConnection)url.openConnection();

You'll want to create one SSLSocketFactory and keep it around. Here's a sketch of how to initialize it:

/* Load the keyStore that includes self-signed cert as a "trusted" entry. */
KeyStore keyStore = ... 
TrustManagerFactory tmf = 
SSLContext ctx = SSLContext.getInstance("TLS");
ctx.init(null, tmf.getTrustManagers(), null);
sslFactory = ctx.getSocketFactory();

If you need help creating the key store, please comment.

Here's an example of loading the key store:

KeyStore keyStore = KeyStore.getInstance(KeyStore.getDefaultType());
keyStore.load(trustStore, trustStorePassword);

To create the key store with a PEM format certificate, you can write your own code using CertificateFactory, or just import it with keytool from the JDK (keytool won't work for a "key entry", but is just fine for a "trusted entry").

keytool -import -file selfsigned.pem -alias server -keystore server.jks