Apache / Generating and installing SSL certificate

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ssl certificate

Before proceeding with installation, make sure that Apache is compiled with mod_ssl. You can check the same by executing the following command in the server.


Steps for Generating and installing SSL certificate

1. Generate a Private Key:

The openssl toolkit is used to generate an RSA Private Key and CSR (Certificate Signing Request). It can also be used to generate self-signed certificates

which can be used for testing purposes or internal usage.

openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 1024

2. Generate a CSR (Certificate Signing Request):

Once the private key is generated a Certificate Signing Request can be generated. The CSR is then used in one of two ways. Ideally, the CSR will be sent to a Certificate Authority, such as Thawte or Verisign who will verify the identity of the requester and issue a signed certificate. The second option is to self sign the CSR.

During the generation of the CSR, you will be prompted for several pieces of information. These are the X.509 attributes of the certificate. One of the prompts will be for “Common Name (e.g., YOUR name)”. It is important that this field be filled in with the fully qualified domain name of the server to be protected by SSL.

The command to generate the CSR is as follows:

openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr

For example:

Country Name (2 letter code) [GB]:IN
State or Province Name (full name) [Berkshire]:Kerala
Locality Name (eg, city) [Newbury]:Cochin
Organization Name (eg, company) [My Company Ltd]:TechTrunch
Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:IT
Common Name (eg, your name or your server's hostname) []:techtrunch.com
Email Address []:just@techtrunch.com
Please enter the following 'extra' attributes to be sent with your certificate request
A challenge password []:
An optional company name []:

3. Remove Passphrase from Key:

One unfortunate side-effect of the pass-phrased private key is that Apache will ask for the pass-phrase each time the web server is started. Obviously this is not necessarily convenient and you can use the following command to remove the pass-phrase from the key:

cp server.key server.key.org
openssl rsa -in server.key.org -out server.key

4. Generating a Self-Signed Certificate:

At this point you will need to generate a self-signed certificate because you either don’t plan on having your certificate signed by a CA, or you wish to test your new SSL implementation while the CA is signing yourcertificate. This temporary certificate will generate an error in the client browser to the effect that the signing certificate authority is unknown and not trusted.

To generate a temporary certificate which is good for 365 days, issue the following command:

openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey server.key -out server.crt

5. Installing the Private Key and Certificate:

Note: When Apache with mod_ssl is installed, it creates several directories in the Apache config directory. The location of this directory will differ depending on how Apache was compiled.

chmod 755 /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/server.crt
mv /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/server.crt /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/server1.crt
cp server.crt /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/server.crt
chmod 600 /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/server1.crt
chmod 600 /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/server.crt
chmod 755 /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/server.key
mv /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/server.key /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/server1.key
cp server.key /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/server.key
chmod 600 /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/server1.key
chmod 600 /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/server.key

6. Configuring SSL Enabled Virtual Hosts:

SSLEngine on
SSLCertificateFile /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/server.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/server.key
SetEnvIf User-Agent ".*MSIE.*" nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown
CustomLog logs/ssl_request_log "%t %h %{SSL_PROTOCO}x %{SSL_CIPHE}x \"%r\" %b"

7. Restart Apache

/etc/init.d/httpd stop
/etc/init.d/httpd start
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