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HowTo Create a self-signed SSL Certificate for Apache

Step 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.

The first step is to create your RSA Private Key. This key is a 1024 bit RSA key which is encrypted using Triple-DES and stored in a PEM format so that it is readable as ASCII text.

# openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 1024

Generating RSA private key, 1024 bit long modulus
e is 65537 (0×10001)
Enter PEM pass phrase:
Verifying password - Enter PEM pass phrase:

Step 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 requestor and issue a signed certificate. The second option is to self-sign the CSR, which will be demonstrated in the next section.

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

Country Name (2 letter code) [IN]:IN
State or Province Name (full name) [Nikesh Jauhari]:Nikesh
Locality Name (eg, city) [Pune]:Pune
Organization Name (eg, company) [My Company Ltd]:Cybage Software Pvt. Ltd.
Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:Information Technology
Common Name (eg, your name or your server’s hostname) []
Email Address []
Please enter the following ‘extra’ attributes
to be sent with your certificate request
A challenge password []:
An optional company name []:

Step 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 as someone will not always be around to type in the pass-phrase, such as after a reboot or crash. mod_ssl includes the ability to use an external program in place of the built-in pass-phrase dialog, however, this is not necessarily the most secure option either. It is possible to remove the Triple-DES encryption from the key, thereby no longer needing to type in a pass-phrase. If the private key is no longer encrypted, it is critical that this file only be readable by the root user! If your system is ever compromised and a third party obtains your unencrypted private key, the corresponding certificate will need to be revoked. With that being said, use the following command to remove the pass-phrase from the key:

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

The newly created server.key file has no more passphrase in it.

-rw-r–r– 1 root root 745 Jun 29 12:19 server.csr
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 891 Jun 29 13:22 server.key
-rw-r–r– 1 root root 963 Jun 29 13:22

Step 4: Generating a Self-Signed Certificate

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
Signature ok
Getting Private key

Step 5: Installing the Private Key and Certificate

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.

# cp server.crt /usr/local/apache/conf/ssl.crt
# cp server.key /usr/local/apache/conf/ssl.key

Step 6: Configuring SSL Enabled Virtual Hosts

SSLEngine on
SSLCertificateFile /usr/local/apache/conf/ssl.crt/server.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile /usr/local/apache/conf/ssl.key/server.key
SetEnvIf User-Agent “.*MSIE.*” nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown
CustomLog logs/ssl_request_log \
“%t %h %{SSL_PROTOCOL}x %{SSL_CIPHER}x \”%r\” %b”

Step 7: Restart Apache and Test

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

Now you can use https://yourwebservername.dowmain-name.


Unknown said...

Again Thanks! This is a really good guide on how to create Apache SSL Certificates yourself, if you have the competence (patience) and expertise to do so. For my small business and site I had to employ an SSL company, as I think it is a tall ask for a novice! But nevertheless this is an interesting walkthrough!

SSL Certificates said...

I found great information from your blog,keep posting this kind of stuff ahead.thanks for share with us.

Wildcard SSL said...

I just finished up reading your blog the first time so I thought I should comment to let you know your stuff is great and you have another follower! Keep the posts coming!

Anonymous said...

Thanks !

Cheap SSL Certificates said...

Without SSL encryption, packets of information travel through networks in full view. Imagine sending mail through the postal system in a clear envelope

RapidSSL said...

This is very good article on creating certificate, btw you can also use the CA .sh script to create it

Wildcard SSL said...

Thanks for this, does this work on all versions of Linux i have the new ubuntu and it seems to not work :(

Wildcard SSL Certificate said...

I have been told this will give my customers a message box to tell them this is a self certified certificate and that may reduce the number of sales. Is this true?

Cheap SSL Certificates said...

The very good article for self signed SSL but people trust in branded SSL so used branded ssl to win the customer trust..that is my view.

cheapest ssl said...

@Wildcard SSL Certificate, Let me bring update you that self certified certificate will reduce your sales conversions and traffic as well as.

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