Liberty on z/OS: Mapping an incoming certificate to a z/OS userid for client certificate authentication – and don’t forget the cookies!

I thought I understood how this worked, I found I didn’t, then had a few days hunting around for the problem

The basics

You can use a digital certificate from a web browser ( curl, or other tools) to authenticate to z/OS.  You need to map the certificate to a userid.

A certificate coming in can have a Distinguished Name like CN=adcdd.O=cpwebuser.C=GB  (Note the ‘.’not ‘,’ between elements).

Your userid needs to have SPECIAL define to be able to use the RACDCERT command (SPECIAL, not just GROUP-SPECIAL).

You will need a definition like (see here for the command)

    SDNFILTER('CN=adcdd.O=cpwebuser.C=GB') - 

or a general definition for those certificate with  O=cpwebuser.C=GB, ignoring the CN part

   SDNFILTER('O=cpwebuser.C=GB') - 

or using the Issuing Distinguished Name (the Certificate Authority)


Using a generic


does not work.

If you attempt to use a certificate which is not mapped you get


It is worth defining these using JCL, because if you try to add it, and it already exists then you get a message saying it exists already.  If you know the userid, you can list the maps associated with it.   If you do not know the userid, there is no practical way of finding out – you have to logon with the certificate, and display the userid from the web browser, or extract the list of all users, and use LISTMAP on all of them.

Once you have set up the userid, you can connect them to the group to give them access to the EJBROLE profiles.  For example use group names

  • MQPAWCO MQPAMQWebAdminRO Console Read Only.
  • MQPAWCU MQPAMQWebUser  Console User only.  The request operates under the signed on userid authority.
  • MQPAWCA MQPAMQWebAdmin Console Admin.

for queue manager MQPA, Web  Console (rather than REST) and the access.

You may want to set up  userids solely for client authentication.  If the userid has NOPASSWORD, it cannot be used to logon with userid and password, and of course the lack of password means the password will not expire.

Having a set of userids just for certificate access makes it easier to manage the RACDCERT MAPping.    You have a job with


and search the output for the certificate of interest.

It gets more complicated…

Often the user’s certificate is in the form CN=Colin Paice,o=SSS,C=GB so if you want to allow all people in the MQADMIN team access, you will need to to specify them individually.  It would be easier if DN had CN=Colin Paice,OU=MQADMIN,o=SSS,C=GB, then you can filter on the OU=MQADMIN.   These could map to a userid MQADM1.

It gets more complication if someone can work with MQ, and CICS or z/OS Connect, and you have to decide a userid – MQADM1 or CICSADM1?

Setting up a one to one mapping may be the best solution, so CN=Colin Paice,o=SSS,C=GB maps to CPAICE (or GB070594).   This userid is then added to the appropriate RACF groups to give access to the EJBROLEs, to give access to the servers.

How do I tell what is being used?

I could not get Liberty to record an audit record for the logon/matching.   I tried altering the userid to have UADIT – but it did not work either.

If you have audit defined on the class EJBROLE profile, you will get a audit record in SMF.   This has many fields including

  • Date
  • Time
  • SUCCESS – or INSACC (INSufficient Access)
  • ADCDC – userid being used
  • READ – Requested access
  • READ – permitted access
  • EJBROLE – the class
  • – the profile
  • CN=adcdd.O=cpwebuser.C=GB – the Distinguished Name of the certificate
  • CN=SSCA8.OU=CA.O=SSS.C=GB – the Issuers (Certificate Authority) of the certificate

From this you can see the userid being used ACDC, and the certificate DN CN=adcdd.O=cpwebuser.C=GB.

And to make it more complicated

I deleted the RACDCERT MAP entry, but the web browser continued to work with the user.  I had a cup of tea and a cookie, and the web browser stopped working.   Was problem this connected to a cup of tea and a cookie?

Setting up the initial handshake is expensive.  The system has to do a logon with the certificate to get the userid from the RACDCERT mapping.  It then checks the userid has access to the SERVER profile, then it checks to see if it is MQWebAdmin, MQWebAdminRO, or  MQWebUser.

Once it has done this it it takes the userid and information, encrypts it, and creates the LTPA cookie.   This is sent down to the web browser.

The next time the web browser sends some data, it also sends the cookie. The MQWEB server decrypts the cookie, checks the time stamp to make sure the information is current, and if so, uses it.  The timeline I had was

  • create the RACDCERT mapping from certificate DN to userid
  • use browser to logon to mqweb, using the certificate with the DN
  • it works, mqweb sends down the cooke
  • delete the RACDCERT mapping for the DN
  • restart the browser, logon to mqweb, using the certificate with the DN.  The cookie is passed up – the logon works
  • clear the browser’s cookies – and retry the logon.  It fails as expected.

So ensure the browser cookie is cleared if you change the mapping or ejbrole access for the user.

2 thoughts on “Liberty on z/OS: Mapping an incoming certificate to a z/OS userid for client certificate authentication – and don’t forget the cookies!

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