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It’s difficult to set up SSL on any website. A fully protected Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) website is rewarded by site visitors, browsers, and search engines. Previously, acquiring, installing, and configuring an SSL certificate was required. With Cloudflare SSL, however, you can finish the SSL configuration procedure in just a few clicks!
This post will show you how to set up SSL encryption on your site using Cloudflare. So start with end-to-end secured SSL connections and work your way up!
There are a few requirements for following along with this tutorial:
- An existing website and domain linked to the Cloudflare nameservers.
- NGINX is installed and configured on an Ubuntu Linux server. Although this lesson uses Linux and NGINX, the same fundamental technique applies to IIS or Apache.
How to Host an Azure Static Website with CloudFlare Support
Only the Beginning with Cloudflare Universal SSL
Cloudflare offers numerous options for SSL configuration. Choosing Universal SSL is often the fastest option. Why? Instead of searching for and acquiring an SSL certificate, Cloudflare creates one and uses it for every traffic delivered via Cloudflare.
Cloudflare provides a legitimate SSL certificate to both visitors and search engines when you enable Universal SSL. Cloudflare also eliminates the need to configure the server or website to utilize the certificate—how convenient!
1. Open your web browser and go to Cloudflare’s dashboard.
2. From the account domain list, go to your site as shown below.
Select the site for which you want to make changes.
3. To examine your site’s encryption settings, click on SSL/TLS.
The page for SSL/TLS encryption mode
4. To activate Universal SSL, choose the Flexible option. The modification takes effect immediately after being chosen. Between the browser and Cloudflare, your site is now secured!
Using Cloudflare to enable Universal SSL
End-to-end SSL encryption configuration
Although Universal SSL is a terrific way to get started with site security, it leaves communication between the host and Cloudflare exposed. Fortunately, there are two encryption settings for transmission from Cloudflare to the server: Full and Full (strict), each with somewhat different certification installation requirements.
- Full — Requires a certificate on the server, which may or may not be self-signed.
- Full (strict) — The certificate deployed on the server must be valid.
Let’s look at the differences between different encryptions and how to configure them.
Using a Self-Signed Certificate to Enable Full SSL/TLS Encryption
Full SSL/TLS encryption, unlike Universal SSL, needs your webserver to correctly provide an SSL certificate in order to encrypt communication from the server to Cloudflare. There are numerous methods to do this, but this guide will show you how to do it on a Linux server using NGINX.
Self-Signed Certificate Creation
An SSL certificate is required to encrypt the communication between Cloudflare and your origin server. You may use a self-signed certificate to get up and running fast since Full SSL/TLS encryption mode does not need the certificate to be completely trusted.
1. Log in to your Linux webserver using Secure Shell (SSH).
2. Run the command below to change (cd) to the normal Ubuntu SSL directory (/etc/ssl). /etc/ssl/cd
Getting to the directory /etc/ssl
3. Using the openssl command, create both the public and private keys for your site. Run the openssl command below to do so.
This command achieves many goals:
- The -x509 argument is used to request an X.509 certificate.
- Allows NGINX to read the certificate on startup using the -nodes argument when it is referenced by NGINX.
- The certificate’s validity period is specified in days.
- -newkey generates a new public and private key using 2048-bit RSA encryption (rsa:2048).
- The -keyout argument saves the private key to /etc/ssl/private/nginx-selfsigned.key.
- Using the -out argument, saves the public key to /etc/ssl/certs/nginx-selfsigned.crt.
ssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/nginx-selfsigned.key -out /etc/ssl/certs/nginx-selfsigned.crt sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey r
How to Install OpenSSL on Windows 10 (Related) (PowerShell)
You’ll need to edit out the #RANDFILE = $ENV::HOME/.rnd line in /etc/ssl/openssl.cnf if openssl returns a benign error of Can’t load /root/.rnd into RNG. For random entropy data, all contemporary versions of openssl use the system /dev/urandom device and do not need a special file for seeding.
4. Once the command has been properly executed, openssl will request you for some information. All of the settings for this instruction are listed here.
- United States of America
- Name of the state or province: Illinois
- Bloomington is the name of the town.
- Test Company, LLC is the company’s name.
- Organizational Unit Name: <blank>
- test.adamlistek.me is the domain name for this website.
- [email protected] is my email address.
Self-Signed Certificate Creation
5. Finally, use the test command to verify that the certificate exists. The file exists as anticipated if the test command returns (echo $?) 0. Each command produced a 0 value, as seen in the accompanying picture.
echo $? test -f /etc/ssl/private/nginx-selfsigned.key echo $? test -f /etc/ssl/certs/nginx-selfsigned.crt;
Verifying the existence of the certificate files
Setting up NGINX
NGINX must now be set to apply the certificate and deliver the site content when it has been produced and put in the /etc/ssl/certs and /etc/ssl/private key areas.
Server blocks, which are commonly found in virtual host files, specify NGINX site settings. The basic site setup is kept in the test.adamlistek.me.conf file and included in the main nginx.conf file in the example below.
1. Create a new virtual host file in the /etc/nginx/vhosts.d directory with whatever name you choose, but for this example, call it test.adamlistek.me.conf. Then save the virtual host file with the following text.
Change the exam. Replace adamlistek.me with your own domain name, since this is simply for example reasons. If the /etc/nginx/vhosts.d directory does not exist, use the command mkdir /etc/nginx/vhosts.d to create it.
server # Listen for IPv4 and IPv6 on port 80 server name test.adamlistek.me; listen 80; listen [::]:80; # Return 301 by performing a 301 redirect with any arguments to the SSL server block below. $request uri https://test.adamlistek.me; server # With HTTP2 enabled, listen on port 443 for IPv4 and IPv6 (requires SSL) server name test.adamlistek.me; listen 443 ssl http2; listen [::]:443 ssl http2; The public and private certificates’ locations ssl certificate key /etc/ssl/private/nginx-selfsigned.key; ssl certificate certificate /etc/ssl/certs/nginx-selfsigned.crt; # The location of the web files to load, which is /usr/share/nginx/html by default in NGINX; # On a root domain request index, the default file is index.html;
2. Double-check that your principal NGINX configuration file, /etc/nginx/nginx.conf, includes the required include line at the end of the http block.
# This is where you put your server configurations… # Additional settings are found here… # Virtual Hosts should be included. include *.conf in /etc/nginx/vhosts.d;
3. If you’re using systemd, a contemporary system and service manager for Linux, restart NGINX with the following command.
4. Return to Cloudflare and make sure the self-signed certificate is active. To do so, go to Proxy status and deactivate “orange-cloud” for the DNS record, as shown below. By disabling the “orange-cloud” option, requests are served straight from the webserver, bypassing Cloudflare.
Proxy Status is used to disable Cloudflare proxying.
5. Navigate to the website in your web browser to verify that the freshly generated self-signed certificate is being returned. A warning page will appear as a consequence, as illustrated below.
The self-signed certificate error is shown.
6. Finally, on Cloudflare, activate full TLS/SSL encryption. Re-enable the “orange-cloud” Cloudflare Proxy Status on the DNS record you previously deactivated to do this. Then go to the SSL/TLS tab and choose the Full radio button from the drop-down menu.
On Cloudflare, enable full SSL/TLS encryption.
Creating Full (strict) SSL/TLS Encryption Origin Certificates
Full encryption mode does not ensure that the web server’s certificate has a valid certificate chain. Instead, use non-strict encryption, and Cloudflare will accept any certificate that the server presents.
To safeguard your origin server connection, Cloudflare provides the opportunity to generate a free TLS certificate. However, employing a Cloudflare-provided origin certificate has two drawbacks. One is that the certificate must be manually generated and installed. The second issue is that the certificate looks to be a self-signed certificate that no browser other than Cloudflare would trust.
The Origin CA Create Certificate API endpoint may be used to automate certificate creation, however it is outside the scope of this article.
1. Navigate to the Origin Server by going to the SSL/TLS tab —> Original Server, as you see below, and click the Create Certificate button.
Getting to the page for the Origin Server.
2. As you can see in the screenshot below, the default parameters are already configured to issue a 15-year wildcard certificate for the domain—sweet! So leave the default parameters alone and click the Create button in the lower-right corner of the screen to produce the certificate.
A wildcard certificate, such as *.domain.com, signifies that it covers any subdomain, including www.
Creating an origin server certificate from Cloudflare.
3. Using the GNU nano text editor, save the private and public keys of the freshly produced certificate to your Linux machine. Because there are two keys to save, you’ll have to do it one at a time.
Make a note of the Private Key since it will only be accessible after an Original Certificate has been created. If you lose this key by mistake, cancel the certificate and reissue a new one.
Open a terminal, then execute the first command to generate and open the public key file (nginx-test.adamlistek.me.crt) in nano.
Return to Cloudflare and click the Click to copy option to copy the Origin Certificate key (public key), as seen below. Then insert the public key you copied into the nano public key file (Ctrl+U). Save your changes (Ctrl+O) and leave nano (Ctrl+X).
Repeat the procedure of generating the key file, copying the key from Cloudfare, and saving it to the key file after saving the public key file. This time, though, you’ll be producing the private key file (nginx-test.adamlistek.me.key).
# The public key is nano /etc/ssl/certs/nginx-test.adamlistek.me.crt in the Origin Certificiate section. # The private key is located in the /etc/ssl/private/nginx-test.adamlistek.me.key section.
The public/private certificate key information is copied.
4. Now that the public and private keys have been established, refer NGINX to the certificate’s location. Modify the test to do this. modify the lines below in the adamlistek.me.conf configuration file to support your domain.
ssl certificate key /etc/ssl/private/nginx-test.adamlistek.me.key; ssl certificate certificate /etc/ssl/certs/nginx-test.adamlistek.me.crt; ssl certificate certificate key /etc/ss
5. Restart NGINX with the following command to apply the new certificates.
6. Return to Cloudflare’s SSL/TLS tab and adjust the SSL/TLS encryption option to Full (strict), as shown below.
Full encryption mode is selected (strict).
Using LetsEncrypt to enable full (strict) SSL/TLS encryption
The major disadvantage of utilizing a Cloudflare origin certificate is that it can only be trusted by Cloudflare. Assume you need a browser-trusted certificate as a fallback or for further control. LetsEncrypt provides the ability to produce a valid certificate in this instance.
Although any valid certificate would suffice, LetsEncrypt is a popular option for generating one. This tutorial uses the acme.sh client, which is one of many LetsEncrypt clients available.
Because you’re already using Cloudflare, the DNS option is one of the finest ways to use LetsEncrypt for DNS provisioning.
1. Open your terminal and use the curl command to install acme.sh.
https://get.acme.sh | curl
2. Next is to create or modify the account.conf file located in the installation directory to add the saved Cloudflare API keys. These keys can be found in the Profile —> API tokens section of the Cloudflare dashboard.
Although a permission-limited token may be created, for the sake of this tutorial, use the Global API Key instead, as seen below.
3. Run the command below to generate the certificate. The command below instructs the acme.sh client to utilize Cloudflare (dns cf) to verify (—dns) certificate ownership. Then, before issuing (—issue) the certificate to (-d) the domain, set the waiting time (—dnsslep) to 20 seconds (test.adamlistek.me).
When the command is finished, the paths to your certificate, certificate key, intermediate CA certificate, and full chain certificate will appear below.
—dns dns cf —dnssleep 20 -d test.adamlistek.me acme.sh —issue
The LetsEncrypt certificate is being created.
4. Change the location of the ssl certificate and ssl certificate key in the NGINX site configuration, as previously. Make sure /home/user is replaced with the path of your acme.sh installation.
ssl certificate key /home/user/.acme.sh/test.adamlistek.me/test.adamlistek.me.key; ssl certificate csr /home/user/.acme.sh/test.adamlistek.me/test.adamlistek.me.csr; ssl certificate csr /home/user/
5. Restart NGINX with the following command to apply the updated settings.
6. Finally, navigate to the SSL/TLS tab and click on Full to alter your Cloudflare SSL/TLS encryption mode (strict).
Full encryption mode is selected (strict).
You’ve learnt how to protect your site using the different Cloudflare SSL/TLS settings throughout this guide. LetsEncrypt provides a customizable and user-managed origin certificate option to your Cloudflare SSL settings!
Will you work your way up to a completely secure connection to your server using Cloudflare SSL now that you know about the many choices for securing the connection to the site visitor?
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