WebServer SSL

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Securing Nginx or Tengine with OpenSSL

Getting Started

OK, you've got your SSL certificate and you have tengine or nginx setup, but you need it secure. After all, you've heard of all the recent DH attacks, BEAST, CRIME, FREAK, Heartbleed and others, right? Is your system already secure? Test it! SSL Labs Test Site The following assumes Package:Tengine, but Package:Nginx is exactly the same, just substitute tengine for nginx and vise versa in config lines.

If you don't know what Package:OpenSSL is, just click the link. Need a certificate? Get a free one from [1]. These guys will step you through the process by following the instructions on their site. If you have problems, the tech support via email is instantaneous, and professional.


Put all your SSL configuration into a single file so that you can update it as security issues arise. This way, if you have multiple sites, they can all include the same file and you don't need to try and maintain the information for each site separately.

#- Not sure if both lines needed, but it works
listen                                  [::]:443 ssl;
listen                                  443 ssl;

#- Support current SSL standards and options only
ssl_session_cache			shared:SSL:10m;
ssl_session_timeout			10m;
ssl_protocols TLSv1			TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
ssl_prefer_server_ciphers               on;
ssl_ciphers                             "EECDH+AESGCM:EDH+AESGCM:AES256+EECDH:AES256+EDH";
ssl_session_tickets                     off;
ssl_stapling			        on;
ssl_stapling_verify			on;

#- And some security related headers
add_header Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=63072000; includeSubdomains; preload";
add_header X-Frame-Options DENY;
add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

Comment out the Strict-Transport-Security if you want to have part of your site as non-SSL. Not recommended!

Attach Certs To Your Site

Go to your /etc/tengine/sites-available/ directory and add the following to your first SSL site.

include                        /etc/tengine/ssl.conf;
ssl_dhparam		       /etc/ssl/tengine/dhparam4096;
ssl_trusted_certificate        /etc/ssl/tengine/startssl_trust_chain.crt;
ssl_certificate		       /etc/ssl/tengine/ssl-unified.crt;
ssl_certificate_key	       /etc/ssl/tengine/ssl.key;

If you purchased a certificate that work for multiple domains, then these can be the same files for all your sites and you can toss those lines in the above ssl.conf. In most cases, you will likely have different ssl certificates for different sites and you will likely want to name the files accordingly.

Building SSL Files

Now, there are 4 files here for SSL in addition to the one we just included. Let's look at where they come from.

First, you should have a certificate file (ssl.crt in the following), and a key for that file (private_ssl.key). The header will determine which is which if you named them funny. Filenames aren't important. Open the file with vi and look for the text at the top between '-----' symbols, starting with BEGIN. If you use less, you won't see the header as less will attempt to decode the certificate to show you in the information in it.

  • CERTFICATE This is a certificate
  • RSA PRIVATE KEY This is your key!

If your KEY has a line that says ENCRYPTED, it's password protected. Since you probably don't want to issue a password every time you start your server, let's fix that first.

openssl rsa -in private_ssl.key -out /etc/ssl/tengine/ssl.key

Easy enough? And we have one of our files done. Only 3 to go!

The next is to create a chain of certificates back to the root. For StartSSL, you download their cert:

wget https://www.startssl.com/certs/class1/sha2/pem/sub.class1.server.sha2.ca.pem

Then make the file you need with your cert and theirs. Here's your next 2 files!

cat ssl.crt sub.class1.server.sha2.ca.pem  > /etc/ssl/tengine/ssl-unified.crt
cp sub.class1.server.sha2.ca.pem /etc/ssl/tengine/startssl_trust_chain.crt

Now, the final command for the final file:

openssl dhparam -out /etc/ssl/tengine/dhparam4096 4096

4096 might be overkill, but 1024 is the minimum and you might as well go all out just in case 1024 gets broken next month!

Be sure all these files are secure!

chmod 0600 /etc/ssl/tengine/*

Delete originals, clean up, then restart tengine. Repeat the above for each SSL site, giving descriptive names to your output files.

Further Reading