How Do I Get a Web Server Certificate?


Scott Campbell

Getting a web server certificate is essential for securing your website and ensuring that the data exchanged between your server and the users is encrypted. In this tutorial, we will guide you on how to obtain a web server certificate.

Step 1: Choose a Certificate Authority (CA)

A Certificate Authority is an organization that issues digital certificates. There are several trusted CAs available, such as Let’s Encrypt, Comodo, and Verisign. Research and choose a CA that suits your needs.

Step 2: Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

In order to obtain a web server certificate, you need to generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). This can be done using various tools or directly from your web server software.

To generate a CSR using OpenSSL, follow these steps:

  1. Install OpenSSL: If you don’t have OpenSSL installed, download and install it from the official website.
  2. Generate the Private Key: Open your command prompt or terminal and run the following command:
    openssl genrsa -out private.key 2048
  3. Create the CSR: Run the following command to generate the CSR:
    openssl req -new -key private.key -out csr.csr

Step 3: Submitting CSR to the CA

Once you have generated the CSR, you need to submit it to your chosen CA for verification and issuance of the certificate.

Login to your CA account and navigate to their certificate issuance page. Choose “Web Server” as the type of certificate and provide them with your generated CSR file. Follow their instructions to complete the submission process.

Step 4: Certificate Validation

After submitting the CSR, the CA will perform a validation process to verify your identity and ownership of the domain. This can be done through email verification, DNS record verification, or other methods depending on the CA’s requirements.

Make sure to respond promptly to any verification emails or follow the instructions provided by the CA to complete this step successfully.

Step 5: Certificate Issuance

Once your CSR is validated, the CA will issue the web server certificate. They will provide you with a certificate file in either PEM or PFX format.

You can download this file from your CA account or through an email notification. Save it securely on your web server machine.

Step 6: Install and Configure the Certificate

To install and configure the web server certificate, follow these general steps:

  1. Access your Web Server: Connect to your server via SSH or any other remote access method.
  2. Locate SSL Configuration File: Find the SSL configuration file for your web server software. For example:
    • Apache: /etc/httpd/conf.d/ssl.conf
    • Nginx: /etc/nginx/conf.conf
  3. Edit Configuration File: Open the SSL configuration file using a text editor and make sure it includes:
    • Certificate File Path: The path to your certificate file (.crt/.pem).
    • Private Key File Path: The path to your private key file (.key).
    • Intermediate Certificate (if applicable): If your CA provides an intermediate certificate, include its path as well.
  4. Save and Restart: Save the configuration file and restart your web server for the changes to take effect.

Step 7: Test SSL/TLS Configuration

After installing the certificate, it’s crucial to test the SSL/TLS configuration to ensure it is working correctly. You can use online tools or command-line utilities like OpenSSL to perform a basic SSL handshake test.

If everything is set up correctly, you should see a successful handshake and a valid certificate chain.

Congratulations! Your Web Server Certificate is Ready

You have successfully obtained and installed a web server certificate. Your website is now secured with HTTPS, providing encryption and trust to your users.

Please note that the process may vary slightly depending on the web server software you are using. Always refer to official documentation or consult with your web hosting provider if you encounter any issues.

Now that you know how to get a web server certificate, take the necessary steps to secure your website and protect sensitive information!

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