Home > Articles > Security > Network Security

Using Apache with SSL

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Preparing Special Files Required for Security

Several special files are required by the server for it to operate in secure mode. During the course of the build, you probably made a server key file and a certificate using the (patched) makefile in the Apache source directory. However, you can make these files manually at a later time, and some of them require special processing by a trusted agency (a Certificate Authority) for your Web site to be used correctly by the general public.

The following files are used for server security:

  • A server key file—This file contains a public and private key that are used by the server for encryption and decryption operations.

  • A certificate file—This file specifies that the key and the Web site are run by a certain organization. If this certificate is signed by a trusted agency, the user can trust that the Web site is indeed run by the indicated organization.

  • A certificate-signing request—This file contains information from the certificate, as well as information about the key. It is intended to be sent to a trusted agency (called a Certificate Authority) for signing.

All these are made when you run the command make certificate in the Apache source directory. Each of these files is described in greater detail in the sections that follow.

The Public/Private Key Pair

The public/private key pair is saved in the file server.key by default. This file contains the keys that are used to perform encryption by the server.

The private key of the public/private key pair needs to be protected at all times. For this reason, during the creation of the key, you are asked to enter a pass phrase to encrypt the key file. When the key file is encrypted, you are required to enter this pass phrase every time that the server starts for the server to access the file. Although this can be annoying, it is very dangerous to leave the private key unencrypted on the disk without a pass phrase.

Use the SSLCertificateKeyFile directive in the server configuration file httpd.conf to specify the key file that is to be used for secure operations.

The Server Certificate

The server certificate file contains information about the organization that runs the Web site. The server certificate file is transmitted to the client when a secure session is set up, and the client tries to use it to verify that the site is legitimate. This file is sometimes called an X.509 file because that is the name of the standard that defines the format used for this file.

For the certificate to be accepted by the client, it must be digitally signed by a Certificate Authority (CA). Each major browser that supports SSL has a list of trusted Certificate Authorities whose signatures it accepts. When a browser sees a certificate signed by a CA that it does not know, it usually provides the information about the CA and the certificate to the user and then asks whether it is to proceed. It is then up to the user to determine whether she can trust that the site to which she is connecting is valid.

The certificate file to use is specified in the server configuration file using the SSLCertificateFile directive.

The Certificate-Signing Request

For your site to be trusted by clients, you need to have your certificate signed by a trusted agency that operates as a Certificate Authority. To have the certificate signed by a Certificate Authority, create a certificate-signing request (CSR) and send it to the authority with some documentation. This costs anywhere from $250 to $1,000 per year.

Several agencies act as Certificate Authorities, which involves verifying the information in the certificate and digitally signing it. The price that they charge for their services is in exchange for the cost of researching the information in your CSR and taking on the liability of certifying your Web site.

The following are some Certificate Authorities:

All of these companies accept certificate-signing requests generated by the mod_ssl package, for use with Apache with mod_ssl. When you make your server key file and certificate, you also make a certificate-signing request. The information required for this request must match exactly the company name, registered domain name, and other details that are required by the Certificate Authority for the CA to process your request. Also, the file is automatically encoded in a special format. Detailed information on pricing instructions for creating the CSR and submitting it and the required accompanying documentation to the Certificate Authority is available on the Web sites of the respective companies.

To test your server, or to run your server internally in your organization, you can act as your own Certificate Authority and self-sign your certificate. This is also referred to as self-certifying. The browsers that connect to your server won't recognize your signature as one from a valid Certificate Authority, but users can manually accept the certificates on their browsers after seeing an error message.

For internal use, you can eliminate the error message on the client by adding a Certificate Authority file to the client's browser. The steps involved in doing this are beyond the scope of this section, but see the online mod_ssl documentation for more information.

After you receive a certificate signed by a real Certificate Authority, you substitute it for the self-signed one by copying it over the old file or by modifying the value of the SSLCertificateFile directive.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020