Observer Analyzer : Analyzer : Security and Privacy : Understanding the certificate trust model
Understanding the certificate trust model
Page Contents
How to view certificates
How to change the trust of a certificate
Certificates and how they are used
Created: 2014-11-10   Revised: 2018-09-18
The certificate trust model allows Observer Platform products to securely communicate using TLS encryption. It also provides resistance to man-in-the-middle attacks by requiring administrator intervention when a known certificate has changed.
All product-to-product communication is encrypted by default using SHA2. A web of trust between Observer Platform products is created by requiring certificates from each participating software application. The main benefit is that this ensures encryption of communication between all parts of the Observer Platform.
Each software application owns a unique certificate. This certificate is automatically created during the first installation of an Observer Platform application, for example, Apex. The unique application certificate is labeled Local when viewed from inside that software application. Upgrading to newer software versions does not create a new certificate, so no certificate maintenance is typically needed. However, uninstalling and reinstalling (fresh installs) creates a new certificate. The new certificate will be automatically rejected by other products that had a pre-existing association with the asset ID of the reinstalled software.
The first time two products communicate, each checks to see if they have the certificate for the asset ID of the other software application. If they do not, then certificates are exchanged, marked Trusted, and associated with the asset ID of the participating device. This enables the “easy configuration” model. After an association is made, each application will expect to see the same certificate (to remain trusted) when communicating.
Note: Prior to version 17 of the Observer Platform, encryption was available but not enabled by default. This has changed to become the default out-of-the-box behavior in Observer Platform version 17 and later, and it also uses a stronger cipher suite.
Certificates are automatically rejected when trust cannot be verified. If a certificate is associated to an asset ID, and an inbound connection from that asset (determined by the asset ID) occurs using a different certificate, the administrator must inspect and manually accept the certificate because the certificate is in a Rejected state. A rejected certificate breaks the trust model, so any offending device(s) and software are banned from product-to-product communication until an administrator investigates and accepts the certificate.
Certificates can be manually rejected by administrators. In the event that product-to-product communication must be immediately severed because of an imminent threat or other security risk, an administrator can manually reject certificates.
How to view certificates
Created: 2014-12-17   Revised: 2018-09-17
You can view every certificate that Observer has collected. This information shows certificate trust state, certificate ID, fingerprints, last time seen, last network location, signature algorithm, and more.
To view certificates:
1. On the Home tab, in the Probe group, click Filters > Configure Software Filter.
2. Under the System tab, click Certificates.
3. (Optional) Select a certificate and click Detailsto view its full details.
You successfully viewed the certificates that this installation of Observer has collected.
Certificate details
Created: 2016-01-25   Revised: 2018-09-17
Certificate ID
Asset type
Asset ID
Issuing time
SHA1 Fingerprint
MDS Fingerprint
Asset name
Last seen IP
Last seen time
How to change the trust of a certificate
Created: 2014-12-18   Revised: 2016-01-25
The trust of a certificate can be changed between trusted and rejected states. The certificate must remain trusted for communication to occur.
To change the trust of a certificate:
1. On the Home tab, in the Probe group, click Filters > Configure Software Filter.
2. Under the System tab, click Certificates.
3. Click a certificate to select it.
You successfully changed the trust state of a certificate.
View the certificate details, such as the signature algorithm, to ensure it matches your expectations.
Certificates and how they are used
Created: 2014-11-10
Certificates ensure secure communication between Observer Platform products. The certificates encrypt this communication and help you the maintain the authenticity of device communication.
Certificates use public key infrastructure (PKI) to encrypt all product-to-product communication using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) cryptographic protocol. The communications that are encrypted include, but are not limited to:
Probe instance redirections
Capture data transfers
Trending data transfers
All other data transfers
Note: The initial handshake between Observer Platform products is not encrypted.