How do I find out if a certificate is self-signed or authorized by CA? Somewhere I read that self-signed subject and issuer will be same, is it correct?
Yes it is true. When certificate is self-signed, then issuer and subject field contains the same value. Also, there will be only this one certificate in the certificate path.
Self-signed certificate will have identical subject and issuer fields, but a) this is not guaranteed, and b) the inverse is not true. Just because the fields have the same value that does not mean the certificate is self-signed.
Here are the outputs from one of our internal root (root-ca.crt) and intermediate certificates (ca.crt):
$ openssl x509 -subject -issuer -noout -in root-ca.crt subject= /C=DE/ST=Berlin/L=Berlin/O=classmarkets GmbH/CN=classmarkets CA issuer= /C=DE/ST=Berlin/L=Berlin/O=classmarkets GmbH/CN=classmarkets CA $ openssl x509 -subject -issuer -noout -in ca.crt subject= /CN=classmarkets CA/C=DE/L=Berlin/O=classmarkets GmbH/ST=Berlin issuer= /C=DE/ST=Berlin/L=Berlin/O=classmarkets GmbH/CN=classmarkets CA
You can see that the fields are the same for both certificates, even though ca.crt has been signed by root-ca.crt:
$ openssl x509 -noout -text -in ca.crt | grep -A1 'Key Identifier' X509v3 Authority Key Identifier: keyid:A2:2D:AF:A0:D2:64:DF:30:F1:72:39:AC:21:AF:45:D6:D4:12:19:94 -- X509v3 Subject Key Identifier: 30:B0:6B:B5:56:9A:95:7C:31:4B:B2:65:95:0D:F9:EE:E8:3D:3A:C9 $ openssl x509 -noout -text -in root-ca.crt | grep -A1 'Key Identifier' X509v3 Subject Key Identifier: A2:2D:AF:A0:D2:64:DF:30:F1:72:39:AC:21:AF:45:D6:D4:12:19:94
Note the absence of the 'Authority Key Identifier' in root-ca.crt.
RFC3280 states in section 22.214.171.124 (emphasize mine):
The keyIdentifier field of the authorityKeyIdentifier extension MUST be included in all certificates generated by conforming CAs to facilitate certification path construction. There is one exception; where a CA distributes its public key in the form of a "self-signed" certificate, the authority key identifier MAY be omitted. The signature on a self-signed certificate is generated with the private key associated with the certificate's subject public key. (This proves that the issuer possesses both the public and private keys.) In this case, the subject and authority key identifiers would be identical, but only the subject key identifier is needed for certification path building.
So it seems to me that the Authority and Subject Key Identifiers are a much better indicator for self-signed certs than the Issuer and Subject fields. For a self-signed certificate the Authority Key Identifier will either be absent or have the same value as the Subject Key Identifier.
@Vilican answer is technically correct and should do the job most of the time. But I wanted to find out if a certificate I was examining (not some particular web site) was used as a self-signed certificate or was a CA cert.
What I found out is that valid Root CA certificates have same issuer and subject. Also
Certificate Basic Constraints indicates this is a CA as well number of allowed intermediate CAs to be signed by this one.
While self-signed certs used to secure a web site usually are not marked as CAs as well have a DNS name as
Subject. And/or have a list of allowed DNS names/IPaddresses under
Certificate subject alt name.
I suppose it's not correctly to check only match of subject and issuer of a certificate. There are plenty of options where different certificates with different start/end date or other metadata to have same subject and issuer. I'm using following method to check certificate is self-signed:
openssl verify -CAfile /cert/to/check.pem -CApath /cert/to/check.pem /cert/to/check.pem
Then if this check failed it's possible to check if certificate is signed with another certificate:
openssl verify -CAfile /cert/of/issuer.pem -CApath /cert/of/issuer.pem /cert/to/check.pem
Specifying same certificate as
CApath prevents successful verification against default trusted certificates of OpenSSL.