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SSL certificate installation with DigiCert®

Here is my story about SSL certificates. I have an ongoing project at my workplace and the site is already secured with SSL. And at the end of its expiration the site went down. It doesn't feel good as a developer when that happens. This article is hence written to acknowledge my procedures.

Let’s have some basic knowledge first:

HTTPS — Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure

This communicates securely through the computer network. It can be secured by TLS or SSL. Once you secure the transfer it protects against “man-in-the-middle attacks”. For example, protection from eavesdropping and tampering. All these happen because of the bidirectional encryption of communication between the client and the server.

SSL — Secure Sockets Layer

TLS — Transport Layer Security

To make the site secure

To create a secure connection to the site we need the SSL certificate. This certificate can be generated and obtained by a Certification Authority (CA). There are many Certification authorities available. Most popular agents are

My story amends with the CA — DigiCert ®

SSL Certificate

This contains a pair of keys.

  1. Public Key
  2. Private Key

Above keys are used to establish a encrypted connection. Also SSL Certificate will contain your; 

  1. Domain name
  2. Company name
  3. Address
  4. City
  5. State
  6. Country
  7. Expiration date of the certificate and details of the CA

Here are the steps to generate and install the SSL certificate.

This project is done with Ruby on Rails + Nginx, and Ubuntu server.

Step 01 — Create a CSR

CSR stands for Certificate Signing Request. 

We must create a CSR before ordering a SSL certificate. CSR is an encoded file with the public key and some information that is required to identify the company. To generate the CSR, following would help. (change the test to your domain name)

openssl req -new -newkey rsa:2048 -nodes -keyout test-domain.key -out test-domain.csr

Once this runs, it asked many questions about the organization.

Once it is completed, you can list the CSR and the KEY. 

This is how it looks like inside the CSR:

I created a folder named “ssl” in my server. I did this process inside that folder. Now I have both CSR and the server private key.

Step 02 — Creating the SSL certificate

The certificate is bought from GeoTrust

The certificate will be sent through an email and it will look

-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----

[encoded data]

------END CERTIFICATE-----

According to the certificate chain, Intermediate CA certificate is also needed. It will also look like the above. The intermediate CA certificates can be found in this link.

Finally, both Intermediate CA certificate and the SSL certificate have to be concatenated. That process can be done simply and the certificate could be seen in a single command.

cat ssl_certificate.crt IntermeidateCA.crt >> domain_name.crt

Now you have the full certificate with you. Let’s move to the next step.

Step 03 —Install the certificate into the Nginx

Here is the Nginx Config file of mine.

upstream puma {
  server unix:///shared/tmp/sockets/pml_prod-puma.sock;
}# Force https for http requests
server {
 listen 80;
 listen [::]:80;
 server_name hello.picturemylife.se;
 return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
}server {
  charset utf-8;listen 443;ssl on;
    ssl_certificate /home/deploy/ssl/test-cert.crt;
    ssl_certificate_key /home/deploy/ssl/private-key.key;# side note: only use TLS since SSLv2 and SSLv3 have had recent vulnerabilities
    ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;#listen 80 default_server deferred;
  server_name hello.example.com;root /home/deploy/pml_prod/current/public;
  access_log /log/nginx.access.log;
  error_log /log/nginx.error.log info;location ^~ /assets/ {
    gzip_static on;
    expires max;
    add_header Cache-Control public;
    # Allow CORS
    add_header 'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' '*';
    add_header 'Access-Control-Allow-Methods' 'GET, POST, OPTIONS';
    add_header 'Access-Control-Allow-Headers' 'Accept,Authorization,Cache-Control,Content-Type,DNT,If-Modified-Since,Keep-Alive,Origin,User-Agent,X-Mx-ReqToken,X-Requested-With';
  }try_files $uri/index.html $uri @puma;
  location @puma {
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
    proxy_redirect off;proxy_pass http://puma;
  }error_page 500 502 503 504 /500.html;
  client_max_body_size 10M;
  keepalive_timeout 10;
}

Only part necessary for the SSL is

listen 443;
ssl on;

ssl_certificate /home/deploy/ssl/test-cert.crt;
ssl_certificate_key /home/deploy/ssl/private-key.key;

 

Step 04 — Restart the Server Nginx

Nginx has to be restarted. 

sudo /etc/init.d/nginx restart

 

Step 05 — Verifying the Security

It is better to verify the security. There is a ssltool provided by DigiCert for verification. This is the link.

Or the following site can be opened with the domain-name as a host in params.

https://www.digicert.com/help/?host=domain-name

Here is the result of our server domain.

 

The End. 


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