welcome: please sign in

Diff for "MemberManual/ServingWebsites/SslCert"

Differences between revisions 49 and 50
Revision 49 as of 2019-01-11 01:40:03
Size: 5426
Editor: ClintonEbadi
Comment: certs should include intermediates now
Revision 50 as of 2022-01-15 06:48:28
Size: 5426
Editor: JesseShumway
Comment: LetsEncrypt expiration policy circa January 2022
Deletions are marked like this. Additions are marked like this.
Line 57: Line 57:
[[https://letsencrypt.org/|Letencrypt]] offers free SSL certificates (but must be renewed every 90 days). [[https://letsencrypt.org/|Letencrypt]] offers free SSL certificates (but must be renewed every 60 days).

This is the page of the MemberManual that describes how to generate a valid SSL cert.

Security Precautions

At some point, your certificate and private key will need to be stored in afs. Since afs is publicly accessible, you need to take a few precautions to ensure that your data remains private. For all key operations, keep the files in a directory that only you and the admins can read. We provide a script to create such a directory: /afs/hcoop.net/common/bin/make-secure-directory certificates


There are a few options for acquiring an SSL certificate to use with us.

The first option is to get a signed certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority ("CA" for short). If you want to make it so that visitors to your website never see an annoying nag dialog box, then this is your best option. The easiest way to do this is using letsencrypt

Alternatively, you can generate a self-signed certificate.

There are several good introductions to SSL and x509 certificates in general if you are unfamiliar with the subject:

Generating a Key and Certificate Signing Request

If you are creating an SSL certificate to use for a web virtual host via DomTool, then you need to create both a key file and a csr file. The csr file is called a "certificate signing request" (sometimes abbreviated "certificate request"), and you will want to specify that on the SSL form in the HCoop Portal. We'll also need access to your key.

Your key must be kept private. You supply the csr to any certification authorities you would like to sign your key, and later combine the certificate given by them with your private key to server a TLS site from our servers. It is highly recommended that you generate a private key specifically for use with HCoop.

To create a cerificate request in file.csr and a private key in file.key, do the following. These files should be readable only by you and the HCoop admins, so be sure to set permissions properly on the directory where you store the certificate request and key. The certificate should be placed somewhere in your home directory, like ~/certificates.

/afs/hcoop.net/common/bin/make-secure-directory ~/certificates
cd ~/certificates
openssl req -sha256 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout file.key -out file.csr -nodes

Here is an explanation of the parameters that you will be asked to provide. Replace yourdomain.org with your domain name.

  • Country/State/Locality: These are self-explanatory.

  • Organization Name: This can be anything you want. It is often the full name or description of your organization or website.

  • Organizational Unit Name: This can be anything you want. It can be left blank.

  • Common Name: This is the domain that goes with the certificate. It can be either a single name (i.e. "yourdomain.org"), or a wildcard domain (like "*.yourdomain.org"). The wildcard domain is used for sharing the same certificate in multiple subdomains of your domain. Most CAs will not sign wildcard certificates.

  • Email Address: A valid email address. People often use ca@yourdomain.org.

  • Challenge Password: Leave blank.

  • Company Name: This can be anything you want. It can be left blank.

Signing the Key

Using a Trusted CA

There are several options available. By far the largest providers are VeriSign and Thawte. Several members seem to like Gandi. We make no specific recommendations concerning which CA to choose: just make certain that their root CA certificates are included with the majority of web browsers.

Letencrypt offers free SSL certificates (but must be renewed every 60 days).


FILE is the filename of the certificate that will be generated: it should end in ".pem". DAYS indicates the number of days that you want the certificate to be valid. It is recommended not to sign keys for longer than a year or two.

/afs/hcoop.net/common/bin/make-secure-directory ~/certificates
cd ~/certificates
openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout FILE -out FILE -days DAYS -nodes

Installing the Certificate

Now that you have a certificate, we need to install it.

Use the SSL permissions page on the portal to request installation of your new certificate. You need to provide us with either:

  • A pem containing your public certificate, private key, and any intermediate certificates (in that order) concatenated together

  • Your public certificate and private key, both in pem format

For the latter option, provide both paths in the same form, separated by a space.

We will then verify the certificate and install it, providing you with a path that you can use to enable SSL using domtool.


MemberManual/ServingWebsites/SslCert (last edited 2022-01-15 06:48:28 by JesseShumway)