eToken, Personal certificate and the Mozilla suite

Recently I have a personal certificate also known as a Digital ID on a smart card (Aladdin eToken) to access a secure web service. While installing the certificate I noticed it is also possible to use it to digitally sign and encrypt email with the same certificate, so I fired up Thunderbird and added the PCKS#11 security device to configure signing using S/MIME. See the steps below.

“PKCS#11 is one of the family of standards called Public-Key Cryptography Standards (PKCS), published by RSA Laboratories. It defines a platform-independent API to cryptographic tokens, such as Hardware Security Modules (HSM) and smart cards.” (Source:

I assume you already have installed the eToken software. In case you haven’t, take a look at this article I wrote earlier.

Open Thunderbird and go to Preferences -> Advanced -> Encryption -> Security Devices

Click on “Load” and enter a Module name or choose the default like I did, which is “New PKCS#11 Module” and browse for the ‘’ library. This file probably sits in ‘/usr/lib’ or ‘/usr/lib64’. Be sure to pick the right one, because you need the 64bit version if you’re using 64bit Firefox.

Open Account Settings -> Security

Select the certificate on your smart card you like to use.

Thunderbird and Firefox are not bundled with the needed CA’s to support GlobalSign PersonalSign Class 2 out-of-the-box. You have to Import the GlobalSign Primary Class 2 CA ( and GlobalSign PersonalSign Class 2 CA ( to make it work in Thunderbird, otherwise you’ll notice you’re not able to send digitally signed email.