Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Cannot ping the selected CA when renewing certificate

I've configured a test environment for migrating certification authorities (CAs) from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019. The process is well documented and I didn't expect any issues. However, after migrating the root CA to Windows Server 2019, I couldn't renew the CA certificate on the issuing CA still running on Windows Server 2008 R2.

Attempting to renew the certificate I got this error:

Cannot ping the selected CA. Please make sure the CA is running. The RPC server is unavailable. 0x800706ba (WIN32: 1722)

On receiving this error, I tried the common things like verifying network connectivity and disabling Windows Firewall just in case. Some searching around indicated this is sometimes a result of COM+ permissions, but it looked OK. Eventually I found this event on the Windows Server 2019 CA which led me to the source of the error.

Event information:

  • Log Name: System
  • Source: DistributedCOM
  • Event ID: 10036
  • Description: The server-side authentication level policy does not allow the user CERTTEST\Administrator SID (S-1-5-21-2892548479-535578393-614425194-500) from address to activate DCOM server. Please raise the activation authentication level at least to RPC_C_AUTHN_LEVEL_PKT_INTEGRITY in client application.

The actual cause is DCOM security hardening introduced by Microsoft in KB5004442. This update requires a higher level of security that Windows Server 2008 R2 doesn't support. Until March 2023 you can disable the security hardening with a registry key, but after that you can't downgrade the security.

  • Path : HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Ole\AppCompat
  • Value Name: "RequireIntegrityActivationAuthenticationLevel"
  • Type: dword
  • Value Data: default = 0x00000000 means disabled. 0x00000001 means enabled. If this value is not defined, it will default to enabled.

For applications that are not updated to request the higher level of authentication security, Microsoft has added new DCOM client functionality to automatically raise the security level in the November 2022 update. This should mitigate issues for most client applications on Windows Server 2012 R2 and newer or Windows 8.1 and newer.

For detailed information about KB5004442 see:

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