SSL management

This page documents some things I had to do to manage my SSL certificates and how I did them using OpenSSL

Creating your own CA and certificate

Creating the root certificate

This creates the root certificate that you will use to sign everything else:

openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -sha512 -days 9999 -x509 -nodes -out example_root.cer

This also create a privkey.pem file, containing your root private key: keep this in a secure place !

Creating the certificate signing request (CSR)

This will be used to sign your certificate:

openssl req -newkey rsa:4096 -sha512 -nodes -out example_com.csr \
    -keyout example_com.key

Creating a configuration file

Certificate creation in openssl is so complicated that you need a configuration file to indicate all the options. This is the one I used:

# Mainly copied from:

[ ca ]
default_ca = myca

[ crl_ext ]
# issuerAltName=issuer:copy  #this would copy the issuer name to altname

 [ myca ]
 dir = ./
 new_certs_dir = $dir
 unique_subject = no
 certificate = $dir/example_root.cer
 database = $dir/certindex
 private_key = $dir/privkey.pem
 serial = $dir/certserial
 default_days = 9999
 default_md = sha512
 policy = myca_policy
 x509_extensions = myca_extensions
 crlnumber = $dir/crlnumber
 default_crl_days = 9999

 [ myca_policy ]
 commonName = supplied
 stateOrProvinceName = supplied
 countryName = optional
 emailAddress = optional
 organizationName = supplied
 organizationalUnitName = optional

 [ myca_extensions ]
 basicConstraints = CA:false
 subjectKeyIdentifier = hash
 authorityKeyIdentifier = keyid:always
 keyUsage = digitalSignature,keyEncipherment
 extendedKeyUsage = serverAuth
 crlDistributionPoints = URI:
 subjectAltName  = @alt_names

 DNS.1 =
 DNS.2 = *

The important lines are the DNS.1 and DNS.2 lines: put in all the domains you want the certificate to be valid with (of course, you can add DNS.3, DNS.4 etc... as you like). The star (*) means all subdomains, so * will match as well as

Also pay attention to the default_md and default_days variables.

Save your configuration files to e.g example_root.conf.

Creating the index files

Once you have created the configuration file, you should create an empty index file, and a serial number file for the certificate index and the revocation list:

touch certindex
echo 000a > certserial
echo 000a > crlnumber

Generating the certificate and the CRL

Finally, generate your certificate:

openssl ca -batch -config example_root.conf -notext -in \

And generate your (empty) certificate revocation list:

openssl ca -config example_root.conf -gencrl -keyfile privkey.pem \
    -cert example_root.cer -out example_root.crl.pem
 openssl crl -inform PEM -in example_root.crl.pem -outform DER -out \
    example_root.crl && rm example_root.crl.pem

The last line is necessary because RFC 5280 requires the CRL to be encoded using DER.

Checking the content of your certificate

Use this command to see that the content of your certificate is what you expect:

openssl x509 -text -noout < example_com.cer

To check the fingerprint, use:

openssl x509 -fingerprint -sha1 -noout < example_com.cer

Revoking a certificate

To revoke a bad certificate (here, update your index using:

openssl ca -config example_root.conf -revoke example_com.cer \
    -keyfile privkey.pem -cert example_root.cer

Then re-generate the revocation list using the command mentionned above.