Using Certificates with Windows

After I have spend several parts of this series discussing the theory of certificates, certificate authorities, certificate requests and file formats, this article focusses on Windows and how it handles certificates. I will also present several pitfalls that can make your life miserable when working with certificates and what tools are available by Microsoft.

Certificate File Formats and Conversion

Certificates are often considered to be binary blobs that cannot be expressed in human readable form. In this part of my series about what everybody needs to know about certificates (part 1, part 2 and part 3), I will introduce well-known formats for certificates and private keys and how they can be display in clear text to survey the information therein. When different plattforms are involved, conversions between these formats may be necessary to work with the files.

How to Request a Certificate

After you have now gained extensive knowledge about certificates and the underlying public key cryptography as well as certificate authorities, this part describes how certificates are requested and how the private key is kept secure during this process of public communication with a certificate authority.

What Certificate Authorities Are and Why We Need to Trust Them

After having introduced the very basic concepts about certificates, we need to dive into the trust issues I raised in the first part of this series. Working with certificates means trusting someone else because a certificate contains a foreign signature combining a public key with identity information. In this part, I will explain why that trust is necessary and how every one of us implicitly places trust in certificates through the operating system.

What Certificates Are and How They Work

In the recent past I have realized that certificates are poorly understood. But accompany us in our everyday life. In the case of IT pros this is very unsettling because they are expected to handle them with ease.

The first and most important concept about certificates is that you need to be thinking about two pieces of information. The certificate is the public part and it always has a matching private key. You may or may not require both for your needs – but continue reading and find out.

Statistical Analysis of Performance Data Part 3 - Histograms

So far, I have written about averages and correcting your data set. In both articles, I have stressed the importance of recognizing outliers and acting according to generally accepted methods. In this article, I will provide the means to identify outliers and their effect on a data set using histograms.

Server Management in Windows Server 8 Developer Preview

Since Microsoft has published Windows Server 8 Developer Preview through MSDN at Windows Build I have spent quite some time after dark getting to know this new versions. In the following I have collected some exciting news about the new incarnation of Server Manager.

My Slide Deck from NRWconf 2011 (Statistische Analyse von Performance-Daten)

For those interested, find attached the slides I presented at NRWconf 2011 in Wuppertal. Mind - they are in German!

My Slide Deck from ice:2011 (Wolkig mit Aussicht auf Fleischbällchen)

For those interested, find attached the slides I presented at ice:2011 in Lingen. Mind - they are in German! I also discontinue sharing the material via Amazon S3 as propagated in the slides.

Statistical Analysis of Performance Data Part 2 - Correcting the Data Set

In the first part of this series, I made a point that average values can be easily distorted and I explained when they can be considered to be secure. Now, I am going to show you how to clean up a data set using statistically proven methods.