keystores and certificate expiration

I’ve seldom had to work with the Java Keystore, but as more and more sites start using SSL, it’s grown more important to ensure that certificates stored on your side don’t arbitrarily expire. This is especially important if you’re not simply relying or verifying intermediate and root certificates. A self-signed server certificate is oftentimes easy enough to do for some applications, and that expiration can come quicker than you anticipate.

In this section, I’ll demonstrate a little bit about how you can get at the certificate store within the relatively standard JKS-format of the Java Cryptography Keystore. Other stores may not work this way, or may require a different set of processes.

Side Note: I have to give credit where credit is due, and this StackOverflow answer provided a great starting point for getting things going. It was essentially the foundation for what you’ll see in this post.

Parsing the Keystore

To make this easy, I generally use the following libraries in most of my projects:

  1. Google Guava
  2. Joda Time
    • Of course, if you’re lucky enough to use Java 8, we’d be using Java 8’s Date and Time library. But, for a vast majority of users, we’re stuck with 7 or less. Ah, c’est la vie.

Reading the Keystore is actually a pretty straight-forward process:

// import a ton of stuff
import org.joda.time.DateTime;
import org.joda.time.Days;

import java.util.*;

// ... more code, some method somewhere

KeyStore ks = KeyStore.getInstance(KeyStore.getDefaultType());
char[] pass = "changeit"; // or whatever fis = null;
try {
    fis = Reader.class.getClassLoader().getResourceAsStream(file_path);
    ks.load(fis, pass);

    // Get Certificate listing

} finally {
    if (fis != null) {

Traversing Certificates and Aliases

From this point, we’re able to read in and claim success! Nah, not really. What do you want to do with this? Well, in this case, our KeyStore will have a lot of various certificates and trusts in it. For our use, we simply want to validate the ones that are going to expire.

With each certificate that we have, there are likely 1 or more other certificates in a certificate chain. We aren’t simply going to find expired server certificates (although that’s laudable in and of itself), but we want to be sure we aren’t going to suffer the fate of thinking “well, our server cert passed, but this whole tree of servers’ intermediate certificates expired”.

private static Map> getCertMap(KeyStore ks) throws KeyStoreException {
    Map> cert_map = Maps.newHashMap(); // Good 'ol Guava
    // Each KeyStore can return an "Enumeration" of aliases
    Enumeration aliases = ks.aliases();
    while (aliases.hasMoreElements()) {
        String alias = aliases.nextElement();
        Certificate[] certs = ks.getCertificateChain(alias);
        // It's not a guarantee that you'll have ANY certificates
        if (certs != null && certs.length > 0) {
            cert_map.put(alias, Lists.newArrayList(certs));
        } else {
            Certificate cert = ks.getCertificate(alias);
            cert_map.put(alias, Lists.newArrayList(cert));
    return cert_map;


Another assumption being made here is that if you have a certificate that’s going to expire, it’s most likely an X.509 certificate, and so we only need to be concerned with a subset of certificates.

    private static Map> filterX509Certs(Map> cert_map) {
        Map> x509_map = Maps.newHashMap();
        for (Map.Entry> c : cert_map.entrySet()) {
            List certs = Lists.newArrayListWithCapacity(c.getValue().size());
            for (Certificate cert : c.getValue()) {
                // This is where the magic happens...
                if (cert.getType().equals("X.509")) {
                    // cast the type to X509Certificate
                    certs.add((X509Certificate) cert);
            x509_map.put(c.getKey(), certs);
        return x509_map;

It took a lot longer to figure out that this one little line

if (cert.getType().equals("X.509")) {

is where you figure out the type. # Finding by Date Now that we have a mapped-listing of X.509 certificates and their chains mapped to an alias, we can iterate over them to find by date:

private static List filterCertificates(List certs, int days_threshold) {
    List filtered = Lists.newArrayList();
    for (X509Certificate cert : certs) {
        DateTime expiration_date = new DateTime(cert.getNotAfter());
        int days_to_expiration = Days.daysBetween(, expiration_date.getDays();
        if (days_to_expiration < days_threshold) {
    return filtered;

Here, we’re simply making use of the excellent Joda DateTime to parse the java.util.Date object and compute the days between the curren time and the expiration date. I’d rather not worry about leap years, other calendar types, etc., when computing things, so let’s just let a great library do that for us.


I hope this overview of how to parse and compute expiration dates on certificates in your Keystore can be of some use. It’s not hard, but half the battle is figuring out what you need to know before you do it.