TLS Server Certificate Management

Current Status

This project has entered the build phase. We have selected several technology collaborators who have signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA; see an example) with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Download the TLS Server Certificate Management project description for full project details.

This practice guide can benefit executives, Chief Information Security Officers, System Administrators, or anyone who has a stake in protecting his or her organization's data, privacy, and overall operational security.

Following an experimental agile process for continuous delivery of special publication, the National Cybersecurty Center of Excellence (NCCoE) has released preliminary drafts for Volume A: Executive Summary and Volume B: Security Risks and Recommended Best Practices from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Practice Guide Special Publication (SP) 1800-16, Securing Web Transactions: TLS Server Certificate Management. The NCCoE is requesting your feedback on the problem statement and best practices identifed in the preliminary draft volumes (A&B).

The other volumes of this practice guide will be released for review and comment on different schedules so that each volume is made available as soon as possible, rather than delaying the release of completed volumes until all other volumes are also completed. The four volumes are:

The comment period to review Volumes A and B is open now until December 31, 2018. We welcome your feedback, which we will use to shape the latter volumes of this guide, scheduled for release in early 2019. We will accept comments online and via email at


The NCCoE at NIST recognizes the need to ensure secure communications between clients and servers. To enhance secure communications, the NCCoE has launched a project titled: Securing Web Transactions: TLS (Transport Layer Security) Server Certificate Management. This project uses commercially available technologies to demonstrate how medium and large enterprises that rely on TLS to secure both customer-facing and internal applications can better manage TLS server certificates by:

  • Defining operational and security policies; identifying roles and responsibilities
  • Establishing comprehensive certificate inventories and ownership tracking
  • Conducting continuous monitoring of certificate operational and security status
  • Automating certificate management to minimize human error and maximize efficiency on a large scale
  • Enabling rapid migration to new certificates and keys when cryptographic mechanisms are found to be weak, compromised or vulnerable

The NCCoE released Volumes A and B to provide enterprises actionable guidance to help them protect their business operations by establishing and implementing a formal TLS server certificate management program.

Although client certificates may optionally be used in TLS to perform mutual authentication, managing client certificates is outside this project's scope.

Questions? Comments? Contact us at

Collaborating Vendors

Organizations participating in this project submitted their capabilities in response to an open call in the Federal Register for all sources of relevant security capabilities from academia and industry (vendors and integrators). The following respondents with relevant capabilities or product components (identified as “Technology Partners/Collaborators” herein) signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to collaborate with NIST in a consortium to build this example solution.

f5 logo
Symantec logo
Venafi logo