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Jan 16, 2013

Creating a Self-signed Certificate for Secure FTP/Web Connections

From the following site: http://www.akadia.com/services/ssh_test_certificate.html

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

 Follow the on-screen instuctions.

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.

During the generation of the CSR, you will be prompted for several pieces of information. These are the X.509 attributes of the certificate. One of the prompts will be for "Common Name (e.g., YOUR name)". It is important that this field be filled in with the fully qualified domain name of the server to be protected by SSL. If the website to be protected will be https://public.akadia.com, then enter public.akadia.com at this prompt. The command to generate the CSR is as follows:
   openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr
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 server.key.org
    openssl rsa -in server.key.org -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 server.key.org

Step 4: Generating a Self-Signed Certificate
At this point you will need to generate a self-signed certificate because you either don't plan on having your certificate signed by a CA, or you wish to test your new SSL implementation while the CA is signing your certificate. This temporary certificate will generate an error in the client browser to the effect that the signing certificate authority is unknown and not trusted.

 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
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