Certificate Authentication Setup - SonicWall SRA/SMA 100 Series

A technical guide on setting up certificate authentication for SRA/SMA written by our Senior Network Security Engineer.


SonicWall SRA and SMA devices now have the option to authenticate using Client User Certificates.


  • This is a guide on how to implement this using a Domain CA Certificate along with User Certificates.
  • This guide is based SMA Firmware and Microsoft Server 2008 R2.
  • It is presumed that you have already set up an Authentication Domain using Active Directory for your Domain on the SRA/SMA Appliance as this will be needed for the Group Affinity Checking.


There are two different options when setting up a SSL VPN domain requiring client certificates:


  1. A standalone SSL-VPN domain which only uses Client Certificates (if using this method it is recommended to maybe restrict the expiry on the certificates or at least use a specific OU for Mobile users on the Group Policy rather than Issuing User Certificates to all the Domain Users).
  2. On a new or already configured SSL-VPN Domain you can use the Enable Client Certificate Check enabled to provide further security.


Setting up the SRA / SMA


If you have not already set up User Certificates on your domain then go to the Section Setting up User Certificates on the Domain Controller.


     1. In the SMA GUI, go to System/Certificates and import your domain CA certificate in the Additional CA Certificates section at the bottom.


 Setting up SRA/SMA 1



     2. Navigate to Portals/Domains and select Add Domain.


Setting up SRA/SMA 2



     3. Select Authentication Type as Digital Certificate.  Set the rest as below and add your Domain CA Certificate to the Trusted CA certificates.


 Setting up SRA/SMA 3


     4. To enable client certificate enforcement on an already configured SSL-VPN Domain, set as below adding any partial DN required.


Setting up SRA/SMA 4




Setting up User Certificates on the Domain Controller

N.B. Auto Enrol is only supported on the following Windows Server operating systems:

Server 2003 Enterprise, Server 2008 Enterprise, Server 2008 R2 and later on at least Standard version.


  • Make sure you have the Active Directory Certificate Services Role Installed.
  • If you want users to request the Certificates Manually then also add the role Certification Authority Web Enrollment - not discussed in detail in this document. Please see here for further support on that feature

     1. To start the Certification Authority either type in the run console certsrv.msc or go to Start/Administrative Tools/Certification Authority. 

     2. Expand the Menu as below, Right Click on the Certificate Templates and select Manage.


Setting up User Certs 1


     3. Select the User Template.  Right click and Select Duplicate Template.  Next, select the option Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and select ok.     


Setting up User Certs 2


     4. Give the new Template a relevant name and select the Validity and Renewal Periods as required.


Setting up User Certs 3


     5. Under the Security Tab you need to make the following changes to the Domain Users permissions:


Setting up User Certs 4


     6. Important : unless all users that you wish to have a User Certificate deployed, have email address entered in to their account under the general settings menu on AD, you will need to un-tick the ‘Include e-mail name’ in the subject name under the Subject Name menu.


     7. Once the new Template has been saved, you can now select it to be used to issue User Certificates.  To do this, right click on the Certificates Templates and select New/Certificate Template to Use.


Setting up User Certs 5


     8. Select your new Template from the list and select ok then exit the console.


Setting up User Certs 6



Setting up the Group Policy

     1. To start the Group Policy Manager Console either type in the run console gpmc.msc or go to Start/Administrative Tool/Group Policy Management.

     2. Expand the Domains, then right click and select Create a GPO in this domain as below. If you only want to auto enrol User Certificates for a specific AD group then you will need to create a New Organizational Unit and make sure the Users are moved to that OU in Active Directory.


Setting up Group Policy 1



     3. Name the GPO as below.


Setting up Group Policy 2


     4. Once created, right click and select Edit, then browse to User Configuration/Windows Settings/Security Settings/Public Key Policies


Setting up Group Policy 3


     5. On the Certificate Services Client – Certificate Enrollment Policy right click and select Properties, and set to Enabled then apply and ok.


 Setting up Group Policy 4


     6. Now do the same for Certificate Services Client – Auto- Enrollment and set as below:


 Setting up Group Policy 5


     7. Once configured apply and exit the Group Policy Management console,


     8. To push the policy out to the Domain Users, run the gpupdate /force command from the command prompt. They will then be issued their User Certificate next time they log on to the Domain.



 Exporting and Importing the User Certificate


     1. To Export the User Certificate go to MMC and add the snap-in for Certificates and select ok.


Exporting and Importing User Certificate 1


     2. Browse to Personal and right click on your Certificate and choose export.


 Exporting and Importing User Certificate 2


     3. Choose Yes export the Private Key:


 Exporting and Importing User Certificate 3


     4. Select the Include all Certificates in the certification path and Export all extended properties.


 Exporting and Importing User Certificate 4


     5. Give the Certificate a password and then save to a relevant folder.


 Exporting and Importing User Certificate 5


     6. To Import the Certificate, this may be different depending on the browser used.  For I.E and Chrome you can right click the certificate and select Install PFX and go through the wizard.


Exporting and Importing User Certificate 6


     7. For Firefox go to Options /Privacy and security/View Certificates and select the Your Certificates tab and Import.


 Exporting and Importing User Certificate 7



Connecting to the SSL VPN Portal and NetExtender / Mobile Connect


     1. Browse to the SSL VPN Portal from your browser.  Select the domain created earlier and select Login.


Connecting SSL VPN Portal NetExtender 1


     2. You will now be prompted to the select the Users Certificate, choose the Certificate and ok.


Connecting SSL VPN Portal NetExtender 2


     3. You will now be successfully logged in to the SSL VPN Portal as below.


Connecting SSL VPN Portal NetExtender 3


     4. Using NetExtender or Mobile Connect, enter your Public IP address or FQDN in to the Server entry. Add your username and the Domain (this is case sensitive).  There is no need to enter anything in the password details (unless using with another Domain that has Enable Client Certificate Check enabled).


Connecting SSL VPN Portal NetExtender 4


     5. You will be prompted for the Certificate to use, select and click ok.


Connecting SSL VPN Portal NetExtender 5 


     6. You will now be connected to NetExtender.


Connecting SSL VPN Portal NetExtender 6




Copyright NetThreat Ltd

Attachment: Certificate_Authentication_Setup_SRA_SMA_100_Series.pdf