A practical path to installing Liberty and z/OS Connect servers – 6 Enabling TLS


I’ll cover the instructions to install z/OS Connect, but the instructions are similar for other products. The steps are to create the minimum server configuration and gradually add more function to it.

The steps below guide you through

  1. Overview
  2. planning to help you decide what you need to create, and what options you have to choose
  3. initial customisation and creating a server,  creating defaults and creating function specific configuration files,  for example a file for SAF
  4. starting the server
  5. enable logon security and add SAF definitions
  6. add keystores for TLS, and client authentication
  7. adding an API and service application
  8. protecting the API and service applications
  9. collecting monitoring data including SMF
  10. use the MQ sample
  11. using WLM to classify a service

With each step there are instructions on how to check the work has been successful.

Configuring TLS

  1. You can configure the server to creates a keystore file on its first use. This creates a self signed certificate. This is good enough to provide encryption of the traffic. Certificates sent from the client are ignored as the trust store does not have the Certificate Authority certificate to validate them.
  2. You can use your site’s keystore and trust store. The server can use them to process certificate sent from the client for authentication.

Decide how you want to authenticate

Most of the functions require an https connection. This will require a keystore.

You can decide if

  1. The server uses the client’s certificate for authentication,
    1. if that does not work then use userid and password
    2. if that does not work, then fail the request; there is no fall back to userid and password.
  2. The server does not use the clients certificate.
    1. You can configure that userid and password will used for authentication
    2. There is no authentication

Have the server create a keystore.

You can get Liberty to create a keystore for you. This creates a self signed certificate and is used to encrypt the traffic between client and server. This is a good start, while you validate the set up, but is not a good long term solution.

Create keystore.xml with

<keyStore id="defaultKeyStore" password="${keystore_password}" /> 

<ssl clientAuthentication="false" 

Add to the bottom of the server.xml file

 <include location="${server.config.dir}/keystore.xml"/>

If you have keyStore id=”defaultKeyStore”, (it must be defaultKeyStore) and do not have a keystore defined, the the server will create the keystore in the default location (${server.output.dir}/resources/security/key.p12) with the password taken from the server.env file.  See here.

Restart the server.

I got the messages

CWWKO0219I: TCP Channel defaultHttpEndpoint-ssl has been started 
and is now listening for requests on host  
(IPv4: port 9443.

Showing TLS was active, and listening on the 9443 port.

If the keystore was created, you will get messages like

[AUDIT   ] CWPKI0803A: SSL certificate created in 87.578 seconds. 
SSL key file: /var/zosconnect/servers/d3/resources/security/key.p12 
[INFO    ] Successfully loaded default keystore: 
/var/zosconnect/servers/d3/resources/security/key.p12 of type: PKCS12

The certificate has a problem (a bug). It has been generated with CN:localhost, O:ibm: ou:d3 where d3 is the server name. The Subject Alternative Name (SAN) is DNS:localhost. It should have a SAN of the server’s IP address ( in my case).

Clients check the SAN and compare it with the server’s IP address.

  1. Chrome complain. “Your connection is not private NET:ERROR_CERT_AUTHORITY_INVALID”, and the option to accept it
  2. Firefox gives “Warning: Potential Security Risk Ahead”, and the option to accept it.
  3. Z/OS explorer gives a Server certificate alert pop up, saying “Host: does not match certificate:localhost” and gives two buttons Decline or Accept.
  4. With curl I got SSL_ERROR_SYSCALL.

You can accept it, and use it until you have your own keystores set up. You can also reset this decision.

Using a RACF keyring as the keystore.

You can use a file based keystore or a RACF keying.  Below are the definitions for my RACF keyrings. The started task userid is START1. The keystore (containing the private key for the server is keyring START1/KEY. The server should use key ZZZZ.

The trust store, containing the Certificate Authority certificates and any self signed certificates from clients, is START/TRUST.

The <ssl.. /> points to the different keystores, so it makes sense to keep all these definitions in one file.  You may already have a file of these definitions which you can use from another Liberty server.


<sslDefault sslRef="defaultSSLSettings"/> 
<ssl clientAuthentication="true" 
    id="defaultSSLSettings" keyStoreRef="racfKeyStore"  
  <keyStore filebased="false" id="racfKeyStore" 
  <keyStore filebased="false" id="racfTrustStore" 

This sets clientAuthentication=”true” and clientAuthenticationSupported=”true”

Specify if you want to use a client certificate for authentication

If you specify clientAuthenticationSupported=”true”… the server requests that a client sends a certificate. However, if the client does not have a certificate, or the certificate is not trusted by the server, the handshake might still succeed.

The default keystore will not be able to validate any certificates sent from the client. When connecting to Chrome with certificates set up, I got an FFDC and messages

  • [INFO ] FFDC1015I: An FFDC Incident has been created: “java.security.cert.CertPathBuilderException: PKIXCertPathBuilderImpl could not build a valid CertPath.; internal cause is: java.security.cert.CertPathValidatorException: The certificate issued by CN=SSCA8, OU=CA, O=SSS, C=GB is not trusted; internal cause is: java.security.cert.CertPathValidatorException:
  • [ERROR ] CWWKO0801E: Unable to initialize SSL connection. Unauthorized access was denied or security settings have expired.

If you specify clientAuthentication=”false” (the default) the server does not request that a client send a certificate during the handshake.

If you specify <webAppSecurity allowFailOverToBasicAuth=”true” />  the client certificate connection is not used or it fails,

  1. if  you specify<webAppSecurity allowFailOverToBasicAuth=”true” /> the user will be prompted for userid and password
  2. If you specify <webAppSecurity allowFailOverToBasicAuth= false > or not specified, the connection will fail.

If a userid and password can be used, the first time a browser uses the server it will be prompted for userid and password. As part of the handshake, the LTPA2 cookie is sent from the server. This has the userid and password encrypted within it. If you close down the browser and restart it (not just restart it from within the browser) you will be prompted again for userid and password. You can also be prompted for userid and password once the LPTA cookie has expired.

If you are using z/OS explorer and get a code 401, unauthorised, you may be using a certificate credential ( format userid@CertificateAuthority(CommonName)) rather than a userid and password with format of just the userid eg COLIN. Use “Set Credentials” to change credentials.

You can see what userid is being used for the requests, from the …/logs/http_access.log file.

To make it even more complex you can have different keystores for different connections or ports.  See here. But I would not try that just yet.

Map client certificates to a SAF userid

If you are using certificate authentication you will need to map the certificate to a userid using the RACDCERT MAP command.

Testing it

If the server starts successfully you can use a web browser with URL


and it should display json data.

If you get “Context Root Not Found” or code 404 you should wait and retry, as the https processing code is active, but the code to process the requests is not yet active.

Review the contents of …/servers/…/logs/http_access.log to see the request being issued and the http completion code.

If you have problems connecting clients over TLS add -Djavax.net.debug=ssl:handshake to the jvm.options file and restart the server.

If you connect to the z/OS Explorer, and logon to the z/OS Connect EE Server, you should have a folder for APIs and Services – which may have no elements.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s