HOWTO: Validation of X.509 certificates with SHA-2 signatures on .NET Compact Framework

As of today, all Rebex components still support .NET Compact Framework (as a legacy platform). Unfortunately, legacy versions of Windows CE / Windows Mobile operating systems, which are still used to run .NET CF applications, cannot handle X.509 certificates with SHA-2 signatures. This is a big issue because SHA-1 has been depreceated and trusted certification authorities no longer issue new SHA-1 certificates.

To address this major limitaton of legacy versions of Windows CE, we introduced a built-in replacement certificate validator in release 2016 R3 of Rebex components. It is enabled by default in all TLS/SSL and S/MIME enabled components such as Rebex FTP/SSL, Rebex Secure Mail and Rebex Telnet/SSL.


When the signature of a certificate being validated utilizes SHA-256, SHA-384 or SHA-512 hashing algorithm and cannot be validated using Windows CryptoAPI, Rebex built-in validator is used instead. It's also used when the ValidationOptions.SkipRevocationCheck has been specified because the OS doesn't support this option at all.

The validator performs all the necessary checks:

  • Root trust
  • Time integrity
  • Chain integrity
  • Signature validation
  • Key usage validation
  • Constraints validation

If all these checks (except time integrity) are passed, the revocation status of whole chain is determined. For each certificate:

  • The current certificate revocation list (CRL) of the certificate is retrieved (from local cache or from the Internet)
  • CRL integrity is validated with respect to issuing CA and current time
  • Revocation status of the certificate is determined

CRL cache

When a CRL is downloaded, it is stored in a local CRL cache. The CRL cache uses the registry to store cached URLs and the local file system to store CRL data.

The CRL cache registry key is HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Rebex\CrlCache. This key contains subkeys for each CRL. Name of the sub-key represents URL from which the CRL was downloaded and value of each subkey is a GUID which represents name of a file where the CRL was stored.

The CRL cache directory is \Program Files\Rebex\CrlCache.

To clear the cache, just delete the contents of the registry key and the directory.

Unsupported features

The following ValidationOptions are not currently supported by Rebex certificate validator:

  • AllowTestRoot
  • AllowUnknownCa
  • IgnoreCtlSignerRevUnknown
  • IgnoreCtlTimeNotValid
  • IgnoreInvalidBasicConstraints
  • IgnoreInvalidPolicy
  • TrustTestRoot

Only CRLs are supported at the moment. OCSP protocol is not supported yet.

The following certificate extensions are not supported and a validation error is reported when a certificate chain with utilizing them (as critical extensions) is encountered:

  • Name Constraints
  • Policy Constraints
  • Certificate Policies
  • Policy Mappings

Using custom validator explicitly

Rebex enhanced built-in validator can be used for SHA-1 certificates as well - it is accessible through Rebex.Security.Certificates.CertificateEngine.Internal object. To make it the default validator, use it as the current certificate engine: