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.


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