Security Experts:

Google Launches Its Own Root Certificate Authority

Google announced on Thursday the expansion of its certificate authority (CA) efforts with the launch of a root CA that will allow the company to independently handle its certificate needs.

The company has been on the frontline of efforts to make the Internet safer by getting all web services to use HTTPS, including by boosting secure pages in search results and by tracking the use of HTTPS on the world’s top 100 websites.

Google has been operating the subordinate certificate authority GIAG2, signed by the GeoTrust Global CA, and the next step is to gain the ability to issue root certificates for products on its own. The new entity responsible for operating the CAs on behalf of Google and Alphabet is Google Trust Services.

Google Trust Services

In an effort to start issuing certificates as soon as possible, Google has decided to acquire two existing root CAs, namely GlobalSign R2 and R4. The company will also continue to use its GIAG2 certificate authority as it transitions to an independent infrastructure.

“If you are building products that intend to connect to a Google property moving forward you need to at minimum include the above Root Certificates. With that said even though we now operate our own roots, we may still choose to operate subordinate CAs under third-party operated roots,” Ryan Hurst, security and privacy engineer at Google, said in a blog post. “For this reason if you are developing code intended to connect to a Google property, we still recommend you include a wide set of trustworthy roots.”

Commenting on Hacker News, some applauded Google’s decision, while others pointed out that the search giant is gaining more and more control over the Internet.

Over the past years, Google has identified several CAs that had issued unauthorized certificates for its domains. The list includes the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), India's National Informatics Center (NIC), Turkish firm TURKTRUST, and Symantec.

Last year, the company announced the introduction of a new Certificate Transparency (CT) log for CAs that have been removed from trusted root programs.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.