November, 2010

  • Never doubt thy debugger

    Moving to Windows 2008: smartcard slow performance?


    Suppose you have a web application which authenticates clients through a smartcard certificate and everything is working fine, then you decide to move your web application to Windows Server 2008 (which is a good decision in many ways Winking smile) but your users are suddenly complaining about slow performance, pages are loading slower than they used to do and you cannot find any explanation on the network infrastructure, everything seems to be properly configured on the client and on the server… what is happening?

    Well, as you can imagine this is what happened to a customer I worked with recently. A closer look at the client showed that every time a new object in the page was loaded (images, script files, css…) the smartcard was checked for the certificate, resulting in a major performance loss.

    To make the story short, the behavior is controlled by client certificate negotiation, specifically by SSLAlwaysNegoClientCert which in IIS 7 has been moved to http.sys (see; you can configure the  <access> element as described or using netsh with a command such as the following:

    netsh http add sslcert ipport=$port certstorename=MY certhash=$Certhash appid=$Appnr sslctlidentifier=$CTLlijst sslctlstorename=CA clientcertnegotiation=enable


    Quote of the day:
    Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right. - Laurens Van der Post
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