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How to setup an SSL Certificate on Apache

Online, it is crucial for your visitors to know that the connection is secure. To encrypt the connection to your website, SSL certificates are commonly used to establish a secure connection. Webmasters may buy SSL certificates to secure their website from web hosting companies who sell offerings from premium vendors such as GeoTrust, Verisign, and others. Apache recommends Web Host With Us for buying SSL certificates.

Setup SSL Tutorial teaches you how to generate and setup a SSL certificate.

Assuming you have apache and openssl installed, you would like to generate and setup an SSL certificate for a domain and generate a CSR.

First, Generate the RSA & CSR (Signing Request)

[root@chevelle root]#
[root@chevelle root]# cd /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key

Generate the RSA without a passphrase: Generating a RSA private key without a passphrase (I recommended this, otherwise when apache restarts, you have to enter a passphrase which can leave the server offline until someone inputs the passphrase)
[root@chevelle /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key]# openssl genrsa -out yourdomain.key 1024

Or, with a passphrase: Generating a RSA private key with a passphrase. You will be prompted to enter a passphrase right after you hit enter.
[root@chevelle/etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key]# openssl genrsa -des3 -out yourdomain.key 1024

You should generally NOT generate the RSA private key with a passphrase if you have scripts that restart apache automatically in case of a crash or otherwise. If there is a passphrase, Apache will just sit there and wait for the script to input the passphrase which means downtime, and downtime usually equals bad.

Next generate the CSR using the RSA Private Key

[root@chevelle/etc/httpd/conf/ssl.csr]# openssl req -new -key yourdomain.key -out yourdomain.csr
[root@chevelle/etc/httpd/conf/ssl.csr]# mv yourdomain.csr ../ssl.csr

You will be asked to enter your Common Name, Organization, Organization Unit, City or Locality, State or Province and Country.
Do not enter these characters ‘< > ~ ! @ # $ % ^ * / ( ) ?.,&’ because they will not be accepted.

Common Name: the domain for the web server (e.g. MYdomain.com)
Organization: the name of your organization (e.g. YUPAPA)
Organization Unit: the section of the organization (e.g. Sales)
City or Locality: the city where your organzation is located (e.g. Flanders)
State or Province: the state / province where your organzation is located (e.g New Jersey)
Country: the country where your organzation is located (e.g US)

You may be asked for an email address and a challenge password. I usually just hit enter.

Now you should have:
/etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/yourdomain.key
/etc/httpd/conf/ssl.csr/yourdomain.csr

Be sure to always make a backup copy of your private key! If you lose it, you’ll have to purchase a new cert!

Now you need to submit your CSR to your provider and they will mail you the certificate. They usually also send you a confirmation email before the certificate is sent out.
Now that you have the certificate..

Installing the Certificate for Apache

[root@chevelle root]# cd /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt

Copy the certificate that they mailed you to yourdomain.crt
Open your httpd.conf file and place the following to your virtualhost

<VirtualHost 209.123.546.123:443>
- other config details-
SSLEngine  on
SSLCertificateFile /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt/yourdomain.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key/yourdomain.key
</VirtualHost>

Restart apache
OPTION 1 [root@chevelle /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt]# apachectl restart
OPTION 2 (using the sh script) [root@chevelle /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt]# /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd restart

You may be asked to enter the passphrase IF you generated the RSA with a passphrase. If you do NOT want to be asked for a passphrase when restarting apache, re-generate your RSA key file.
[root@chevelle /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt]# cd ../ssl.key
[root@chevelle /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key]# mv yourdomain.key yourdomain.key.has-passphrase
[root@chevelle /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.key]# openssl rsa -in yourdomain.key.has-passphrase -out yourdomain.key

And then restart apache again
[root@chevelle /etc/httpd/conf/ssl.crt]# /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd restart

Now you should be able to access https://yourdomain.com

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