Apache self-signed cert warning

A earlier model of this tutorial was written by Justin Ellingwood


TLS, or transport layer safety, and its predecessor SSL, which stands for safe sockets layer, are internet protocols used to wrap regular visitors in a protected, encrypted wrapper.

Utilizing this know-how, servers can ship visitors safely between servers and shoppers with out the opportunity of messages being intercepted by exterior events. The certificates system additionally assists customers in verifying the identification of the websites that they’re connecting with.

On this information, we’ll present you arrange a self-signed SSL certificates to be used with an Apache internet server on Ubuntu 18.04.

Word: A self-signed certificates will encrypt communication between your server and any shoppers. Nevertheless, as a result of it isn’t signed by any of the trusted certificates authorities included with internet browsers, customers can’t use the certificates to validate the identification of your server routinely.

A self-signed certificates could also be applicable for those who don’t have a site title related along with your server and for situations the place an encrypted internet interface shouldn’t be user-facing. In the event you do have a site title, in lots of instances it’s higher to make use of a CA-signed certificates. You will discover out arrange a free trusted certificates with the Let’s Encrypt venture right here.


Earlier than you start, it’s best to have a non-root person configured with sudo privileges. You’ll be able to discover ways to arrange such a person account by following our Preliminary Server Setup with Ubuntu 18.04.

Additionally, you will have to have the Apache internet server put in. If you need to put in a complete LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack in your server, you’ll be able to observe our information on establishing LAMP on Ubuntu 18.04. In the event you simply need the Apache internet server, skip the steps pertaining to PHP and MySQL.

When you’ve got accomplished the stipulations, proceed beneath.

Step 1 – Creating the SSL Certificates

TLS/SSL works by utilizing a mix of a public certificates and a personal key. The SSL secret is saved secret on the server. It’s used to encrypt content material despatched to shoppers. The SSL certificates is publicly shared with anybody requesting the content material. It may be used to decrypt the content material signed by the related SSL key.

We will create a self-signed key and certificates pair with OpenSSL in a single command:

  • sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /and so forth/ssl/non-public/apache-selfsigned.key -out /and so forth/ssl/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt

You can be requested a sequence of questions. Earlier than we go over that, let’s check out what is occurring within the command we’re issuing:

  • openssl: That is the fundamental command line instrument for creating and managing OpenSSL certificates, keys, and different recordsdata.
  • req: This subcommand specifies that we need to use X.509 certificates signing request (CSR) administration. The “X.509” is a public key infrastructure commonplace that SSL and TLS adheres to for its key and certificates administration. We need to create a brand new X.509 cert, so we’re utilizing this subcommand.
  • -x509: This additional modifies the earlier subcommand by telling the utility that we need to make a self-signed certificates as an alternative of producing a certificates signing request, as would usually occur.
  • -nodes: This tells OpenSSL to skip the choice to safe our certificates with a passphrase. We want Apache to have the ability to learn the file, with out person intervention, when the server begins up. A passphrase would forestall this from occurring as a result of we must enter it after each restart.
  • -days 365: This feature units the size of time that the certificates might be thought of legitimate. We set it for one yr right here.
  • -newkey rsa:2048: This specifies that we need to generate a brand new certificates and a brand new key on the identical time. We didn’t create the important thing that’s required to signal the certificates in a earlier step, so we have to create it together with the certificates. The rsa:2048 portion tells it to make an RSA key that’s 2048 bits lengthy.
  • -keyout: This line tells OpenSSL the place to position the generated non-public key file that we’re creating.
  • -out: This tells OpenSSL the place to position the certificates that we’re creating.

As we acknowledged above, these choices will create each a key file and a certificates. We might be requested a couple of questions on our server as a way to embed the knowledge appropriately within the certificates.

Fill out the prompts appropriately. A very powerful line is the one which requests the Widespread Identify (e.g. server FQDN or YOUR title). It is advisable enter the area title related along with your server or, extra doubtless, your server’s public IP tackle.

The whole lot of the prompts will look one thing like this:


Nation Identify (2 letter code) [AU]:US State or Province Identify (full title) [Some-State]:New York Locality Identify (eg, metropolis) []:New York Metropolis Group Identify (eg, firm) [Internet Widgits Pty Ltd]:Bouncy Castles, Inc. Organizational Unit Identify (eg, part) []:Ministry of Water Slides Widespread Identify (e.g. server FQDN or YOUR title) []:server_IP_address Electronic mail Deal with []:[email protected]_domain.com

Each of the recordsdata you created might be positioned within the applicable subdirectories underneath /and so forth/ssl.

Step 2 – Configuring Apache to Use SSL

We’ve got created our key and certificates recordsdata underneath the /and so forth/ssl listing. Now we simply want to switch our Apache configuration to reap the benefits of these.

We are going to make a couple of changes to our configuration:

  1. We are going to create a configuration snippet to specify sturdy default SSL settings.
  2. We are going to modify the included SSL Apache Digital Host file to level to our generated SSL certificates.
  3. (Really useful) We are going to modify the unencrypted Digital Host file to routinely redirect requests to the encrypted Digital Host.

Once we are completed, we must always have a safe SSL configuration.

Creating an Apache Configuration Snippet with Robust Encryption Settings

First, we’ll create an Apache configuration snippet to outline some SSL settings. It will set Apache up with a powerful SSL cipher suite and allow some superior options that can assist maintain our server safe. The parameters we’ll set can be utilized by any Digital Hosts enabling SSL.

Create a brand new snippet within the /and so forth/apache2/conf-available listing. We are going to title the file ssl-params.conf to make its function clear:

  • sudo nano /and so forth/apache2/conf-available/ssl-params.conf

To arrange Apache SSL securely, we might be utilizing the suggestions by Remy van Elst on the Cipherli.st web site. This web site is designed to offer easy-to-consume encryption settings for fashionable software program.

The urged settings on the positioning linked to above provide sturdy safety. Typically, this comes at the price of larger shopper compatibility. If it is advisable help older shoppers, there may be an alternate record that may be accessed by clicking the hyperlink on the web page labelled “Yes, give me a ciphersuite that works with legacy / old software.” That record may be substituted for the objects copied beneath.

The selection of which config you employ will rely largely on what it is advisable help. They each will present nice safety.

For our functions, we are able to copy the offered settings of their entirety. We are going to simply make one small change. We are going to disable the Strict-Transport-Safety header (HSTS).

Preloading HSTS offers elevated safety, however can have far reaching penalties if by chance enabled or enabled incorrectly. On this information, we is not going to allow the settings, however you’ll be able to modify that if you’re positive you perceive the implications.

Earlier than deciding, take a second to learn up on HTTP Strict Transport Safety, or HSTS, and particularly in regards to the “preload” performance

Paste the configuration into the ssl-params.conf file we opened:

/and so forth/apache2/conf-available/ssl-params.conf

SSLProtocol All -SSLv2 -SSLv3 -TLSv1 -TLSv1.1
SSLHonorCipherOrder On
# Disable preloading HSTS for now.  You should use the commented out header line that features
# the "preload" directive for those who perceive the implications.
# Header at all times set Strict-Transport-Safety "max-age=63072000; includeSubDomains; preload"
Header at all times set X-Body-Choices DENY
Header at all times set X-Content material-Kind-Choices nosniff
# Requires Apache >= 2.4
SSLCompression off
SSLUseStapling on
SSLStaplingCache "shmcb:logs/stapling-cache(150000)"
# Requires Apache >= 2.4.11
SSLSessionTickets Off

Save and shut the file when you’re completed.

Modifying the Default Apache SSL Digital Host File

Subsequent, let’s modify /and so forth/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf, the default Apache SSL Digital Host file. If you’re utilizing a distinct server block file, substitute its title within the instructions beneath.

Earlier than we go any additional, let’s again up the unique SSL Digital Host file:

  • sudo cp /and so forth/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf /and so forth/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf.bak

Now, open the SSL Digital Host file to make changes:

  • sudo nano /and so forth/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf

Inside, with a lot of the feedback eliminated, the Digital Host file ought to look one thing like this by default:

/and so forth/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf

<IfModule mod_ssl.c>
        <VirtualHost _default_:443>
                ServerAdmin [email protected]

                DocumentRoot /var/www/html

                ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
                CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/entry.log mixed

                SSLEngine on

                SSLCertificateFile      /and so forth/ssl/certs/ssl-cert-snakeoil.pem
                SSLCertificateKeyFile /and so forth/ssl/non-public/ssl-cert-snakeoil.key

                <FilesMatch ".(cgi|shtml|phtml|php)$">
                                SSLOptions +StdEnvVars
                <Listing /usr/lib/cgi-bin>
                                SSLOptions +StdEnvVars


We might be making some minor changes to the file. We are going to set the conventional issues we might need to regulate in a Digital Host file (ServerAdmin electronic mail tackle, ServerName, and so forth., and regulate the SSL directives to level to our certificates and key recordsdata.

After making these adjustments, your server block ought to look just like this:

/and so forth/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf

<IfModule mod_ssl.c>
        <VirtualHost _default_:443>
                ServerAdmin [email protected]
                ServerName server_domain_or_IP

                DocumentRoot /var/www/html

                ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
                CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/entry.log mixed

                SSLEngine on

                SSLCertificateFile      /and so forth/ssl/certs/apache-selfsigned.crt
                SSLCertificateKeyFile /and so forth/ssl/non-public/apache-selfsigned.key

                <FilesMatch ".(cgi|shtml|phtml|php)$">
                                SSLOptions +StdEnvVars
                <Listing /usr/lib/cgi-bin>
                                SSLOptions +StdEnvVars


Save and shut the file when you’re completed.

Because it stands now, the server will present each unencrypted HTTP and encrypted HTTPS visitors. For higher safety, it is suggested generally to redirect HTTP to HTTPS routinely. If you do not need or want this performance, you’ll be able to safely skip this part.

To regulate the unencrypted Digital Host file to redirect all visitors to be SSL encrypted, we are able to open the /and so forth/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf file:

  • sudo nano /and so forth/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

Inside, inside the VirtualHost configuration blocks, we have to add a Redirect directive, pointing all visitors to the SSL model of the positioning:

/and so forth/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

<VirtualHost *:80>
        . . .

        Redirect "/" "https://your_domain_or_IP/"

        . . .

Save and shut the file when you’re completed.

Step 3 – Adjusting the Firewall

When you’ve got the ufw firewall enabled, as really useful by the prerequisite guides, you may want to regulate the settings to permit for SSL visitors. Fortunately, Apache registers a couple of profiles with ufw upon set up.

We will see the obtainable profiles by typing:

It's best to see an inventory like this:


Accessible purposes: Apache Apache Full Apache Safe OpenSSH

You'll be able to see the present setting by typing:

In the event you allowed solely common HTTP visitors earlier, your output may seem like this:


Standing: energetic To Motion From -- ------ ---- OpenSSH ALLOW Anyplace Apache ALLOW Anyplace OpenSSH (v6) ALLOW Anyplace (v6) Apache (v6) ALLOW Anyplace (v6)

To moreover let in HTTPS visitors, we are able to permit the "Apache Full" profile after which delete the redundant "Apache" profile allowance:

  • sudo ufw permit 'Apache Full'
  • sudo ufw delete permit 'Apache'

Your standing ought to seem like this now:


Standing: energetic To Motion From -- ------ ---- OpenSSH ALLOW Anyplace Apache Full ALLOW Anyplace OpenSSH (v6) ALLOW Anyplace (v6) Apache Full (v6) ALLOW Anyplace (v6)

Step 4 – Enabling the Modifications in Apache

Now that we have made our adjustments and adjusted our firewall, we are able to allow the SSL and headers modules in Apache, allow our SSL-ready Digital Host, and restart Apache.

We will allow mod_ssl, the Apache SSL module, and mod_headers, wanted by a few of the settings in our SSL snippet, with the a2enmod command:

  • sudo a2enmod ssl
  • sudo a2enmod headers

Subsequent, we are able to allow our SSL Digital Host with the a2ensite command:

  • sudo a2ensite default-ssl

We may also have to allow our ssl-params.conf file, to learn within the values we set:

At this level, our web site and the mandatory modules are enabled. We must always examine to guarantee that there are not any syntax errors in our recordsdata. We will do that by typing:

  • sudo apache2ctl configtest

If every little thing is profitable, you're going to get a consequence that appears like this:


AH00558: apache2: Couldn't reliably decide the server's absolutely certified area title, utilizing Set the 'ServerName' directive globally to suppress this message Syntax OK

The primary line is only a message telling you that the ServerName directive shouldn't be set globally. If you wish to eliminate that message, you'll be able to set ServerName to your server's area title or IP tackle in /and so forth/apache2/apache2.conf. That is non-compulsory because the message will do no hurt.

In case your output has Syntax OK in it, your configuration file has no syntax errors. We will safely restart Apache to implement our adjustments:

  • sudo systemctl restart apache2

Step 5 – Testing Encryption

Now, we're prepared to check our SSL server.

Open your internet browser and sort https:// adopted by your server's area title or IP into the tackle bar:


As a result of the certificates we created is not signed by one among your browser's trusted certificates authorities, you'll doubtless see a scary wanting warning just like the one beneath:

Apache self-signed cert warning

That is anticipated and regular. We're solely within the encryption side of our certificates, not the third celebration validation of our host's authenticity. Click on "ADVANCED" after which the hyperlink offered to proceed to your host anyhow:

Apache self-signed override

You need to be taken to your web site. In the event you look within the browser tackle bar, you will notice a lock with an "x" over it. On this case, this simply implies that the certificates can't be validated. It's nonetheless encrypting your connection.

In the event you configured Apache to redirect HTTP to HTTPS, you can too examine whether or not the redirect features appropriately:


If this leads to the identical icon, which means that your redirect labored appropriately.

Step 6 – Altering to a Everlasting Redirect

In case your redirect labored appropriately and you might be positive you need to permit solely encrypted visitors, it's best to modify the unencrypted Apache Digital Host once more to make the redirect everlasting.

Open your server block configuration file once more:

  • sudo nano /and so forth/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

Discover the Redirect line we added earlier. Add everlasting to that line, which adjustments the redirect from a 302 short-term redirect to a 301 everlasting redirect:

/and so forth/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

<VirtualHost *:80>
        . . .

        Redirect everlasting "/" "https://your_domain_or_IP/"

        . . .

Save and shut the file.

Verify your configuration for syntax errors:

  • sudo apache2ctl configtest

Once you're prepared, restart Apache to make the redirect everlasting:

  • sudo systemctl restart apache2


You will have configured your Apache server to make use of sturdy encryption for shopper connections. It will permit you serve requests securely, and can forestall exterior events from studying your visitors.

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