recommended by Snowden – Let’s Encrypt Free SSL Certificates Apache Apache2 Nginx Debian Ubuntu CentOS Howtos from ISRG FSF Linux Foundation


Why: Do MAJOR news outlets NOT use SSL?

Euronews is not able to use SSL? Out of compatibility reasons? (maybe platform not ready yet? lame!) Because the surveillance state works better without SSL? I guess.

Same goes for: -> redirects to

While has it working and Rupert Murdoch’s actually has it working: „SSL by DigiCert ECC Secure Server CA“

Snowden recommends using encryption – be it in the web (SSL) or mail (PGP).

While it is not 100% surveillance free (especially not metadata free – they still know this IP looked at website xyz from server IP at time xyz – together with more data it is probably person xyz) – it costs the NSA a lot of money to break encryption:

„According to Guardian, the NSA’s network – Breaking Program is named Bullrun-after a battle in the American civil war….


In the current year (2013) alone, the Bullrun programme will have a budget of $ 254.9 million.

Since 2011, more than 800 million dollars have been spent on it, writes the newspaper.

In comparison, the budget for the Prism scanning Software is tiny, it amounts to 20 million dollars a year.“ (src)

Let’s Encrypt: who? is a free service by ISRG is a California public benefit corporation, its mission is to reduce financial, technological, and educational barriers to secure communication over the Internet. It is supported by the Linux Foundation and Free Software Foundation.

Executive Director: Josh Aas

„Apache and Nginx needs Let’s Encrypt support built-in“ (as caddy webserver has)

„we need wrap everything into some nice encryption. It is important because the users are not in control of their data anymore.“

„unencrypted traffic can be modified – you can inject things – you can change content for mobile devices“

„all this active data mining is nothing you would opt for if you were asked“ (but nobody is asked by gov, isp and google displays legal terms… but who can say no to them? X-D)

„security is too difficult and you gotta pay and you need to renew that on time“

„90 days cert lifetime because revocation of keys does nothing for you“

i wonder if Josh is really running OSX on his macbook X-D


you will need a publicly accessible domain pointing to your server:/var/www/html web root.

certbot (the software used by Let’s Encrypt to automatically issue you a certifiate) will probably write something into your webroot in order to identify it is you.

pick your combination:

certbot cheat sheed:

certbot renew --dry-run; # test if ssl cert can be automatically renewed

apache2 cheat sheed:

apache2ctl configtest; # test config for errors
systemctl restart apache2; # restart apache2 to make conf apache2ctl -S
apache2ctl -S; # output all kinds of currently used configuration options web root / config file used etc.

# example output 
VirtualHost configuration:
*:80 is a NameVirtualHost
 default server (/etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf:1)
 port 80 namevhost (/etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf:1)
 port 80 namevhost (/etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf:31)
*:443 is a NameVirtualHost
 default server (/etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf:42)
 port 443 namevhost (/etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf:42)
 port 443 namevhost (/etc/apache2/sites-enabled/default-ssl.conf:2)
ServerRoot: "/etc/apache2"
Main DocumentRoot: "/var/www/html"
Main ErrorLog: "/var/log/apache2/error.log"
Mutex ssl-cache: using_defaults
Mutex default: dir="/var/run/apache2/" mechanism=default 
Mutex watchdog-callback: using_defaults
Mutex rewrite-map: using_defaults
Mutex ssl-stapling-refresh: using_defaults
Mutex ssl-stapling: using_defaults
PidFile: "/var/run/apache2/"
User: name="www-data" id=33
Group: name="www-data" id=33
ig active

generated example config debian 8 apache2:

		ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost

		DocumentRoot /var/www/html

		# Available loglevels: trace8, ..., trace1, debug, info, notice, warn,
		# error, crit, alert, emerg.
		# It is also possible to configure the loglevel for particular
		# modules, e.g.
		#LogLevel info ssl:warn

		ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
		CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

		# For most configuration files from conf-available/, which are
		# enabled or disabled at a global level, it is possible to
		# include a line for only one particular virtual host. For example the
		# following line enables the CGI configuration for this host only
		# after it has been globally disabled with "a2disconf".
		#Include conf-available/serve-cgi-bin.conf

		#   SSL Engine Switch:
		#   Enable/Disable SSL for this virtual host.
		SSLEngine on

		#   A self-signed (snakeoil) certificate can be created by installing
		#   the ssl-cert package. See
		#   /usr/share/doc/apache2/README.Debian.gz for more info.
		#   If both key and certificate are stored in the same file, only the
		#   SSLCertificateFile directive is needed.
		SSLCertificateFile	/etc/letsencrypt/live/
		SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/

		#   Server Certificate Chain:
		#   Point SSLCertificateChainFile at a file containing the
		#   concatenation of PEM encoded CA certificates which form the
		#   certificate chain for the server certificate. Alternatively
		#   the referenced file can be the same as SSLCertificateFile
		#   when the CA certificates are directly appended to the server
		#   certificate for convinience.
		#SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/apache2/ssl.crt/server-ca.crt

		#   Certificate Authority (CA):
		#   Set the CA certificate verification path where to find CA
		#   certificates for client authentication or alternatively one
		#   huge file containing all of them (file must be PEM encoded)
		#   Note: Inside SSLCACertificatePath you need hash symlinks
		#		 to point to the certificate files. Use the provided
		#		 Makefile to update the hash symlinks after changes.
		#SSLCACertificatePath /etc/ssl/certs/
		#SSLCACertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl.crt/ca-bundle.crt

		#   Certificate Revocation Lists (CRL):
		#   Set the CA revocation path where to find CA CRLs for client
		#   authentication or alternatively one huge file containing all
		#   of them (file must be PEM encoded)
		#   Note: Inside SSLCARevocationPath you need hash symlinks
		#		 to point to the certificate files. Use the provided
		#		 Makefile to update the hash symlinks after changes.
		#SSLCARevocationPath /etc/apache2/ssl.crl/
		#SSLCARevocationFile /etc/apache2/ssl.crl/ca-bundle.crl

		#   Client Authentication (Type):
		#   Client certificate verification type and depth.  Types are
		#   none, optional, require and optional_no_ca.  Depth is a
		#   number which specifies how deeply to verify the certificate
		#   issuer chain before deciding the certificate is not valid.
		#SSLVerifyClient require
		#SSLVerifyDepth  10

		#   SSL Engine Options:
		#   Set various options for the SSL engine.
		#   o FakeBasicAuth:
		#	 Translate the client X.509 into a Basic Authorisation.  This means that
		#	 the standard Auth/DBMAuth methods can be used for access control.  The
		#	 user name is the `one line' version of the client's X.509 certificate.
		#	 Note that no password is obtained from the user. Every entry in the user
		#	 file needs this password: `xxj31ZMTZzkVA'.
		#   o ExportCertData:
		#	 This exports two additional environment variables: SSL_CLIENT_CERT and
		#	 SSL_SERVER_CERT. These contain the PEM-encoded certificates of the
		#	 server (always existing) and the client (only existing when client
		#	 authentication is used). This can be used to import the certificates
		#	 into CGI scripts.
		#   o StdEnvVars:
		#	 This exports the standard SSL/TLS related `SSL_*' environment variables.
		#	 Per default this exportation is switched off for performance reasons,
		#	 because the extraction step is an expensive operation and is usually
		#	 useless for serving static content. So one usually enables the
		#	 exportation for CGI and SSI requests only.
		#   o OptRenegotiate:
		#	 This enables optimized SSL connection renegotiation handling when SSL
		#	 directives are used in per-directory context.
		#SSLOptions +FakeBasicAuth +ExportCertData +StrictRequire
		<FilesMatch "\.(cgi|shtml|phtml|php)$">
				SSLOptions +StdEnvVars
				SSLOptions +StdEnvVars

		#   SSL Protocol Adjustments:
		#   The safe and default but still SSL/TLS standard compliant shutdown
		#   approach is that mod_ssl sends the close notify alert but doesn't wait for
		#   the close notify alert from client. When you need a different shutdown
		#   approach you can use one of the following variables:
		#   o ssl-unclean-shutdown:
		#	 This forces an unclean shutdown when the connection is closed, i.e. no
		#	 SSL close notify alert is send or allowed to received.  This violates
		#	 the SSL/TLS standard but is needed for some brain-dead browsers. Use
		#	 this when you receive I/O errors because of the standard approach where
		#	 mod_ssl sends the close notify alert.
		#   o ssl-accurate-shutdown:
		#	 This forces an accurate shutdown when the connection is closed, i.e. a
		#	 SSL close notify alert is send and mod_ssl waits for the close notify
		#	 alert of the client. This is 100% SSL/TLS standard compliant, but in
		#	 practice often causes hanging connections with brain-dead browsers. Use
		#	 this only for browsers where you know that their SSL implementation
		#	 works correctly.
		#   Notice: Most problems of broken clients are also related to the HTTP
		#   keep-alive facility, so you usually additionally want to disable
		#   keep-alive for those clients, too. Use variable "nokeepalive" for this.
		#   Similarly, one has to force some clients to use HTTP/1.0 to workaround
		#   their broken HTTP/1.1 implementation. Use variables "downgrade-1.0" and
		#   "force-response-1.0" for this.
		# BrowserMatch "MSIE [2-6]" \
		#		nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown \
		#		downgrade-1.0 force-response-1.0


# vim: syntax=apache ts=4 sw=4 sts=4 sr noet


ISRG is a California public benefit corporation, and is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. ISRG’s mission is to reduce financial, technological, and educational barriers to secure communication over the Internet.

ISRG is proudly sponsored by a diverse group of organizations, from non-profits to Fortune 100 companies. We believe we can set an example for how everyone interested in a more secure Internet can work together to provide digital infrastructure for the public’s benefit. See this page for more on our sponsors.

Our current board members are:

  • Josh Aas (ISRG) — ISRG Executive Director
  • Stephen Ludin (Akamai)
  • J. Alex Halderman (University of Michigan)
  • Jennifer Granick (ACLU)
  • Laura Thomson (Mozilla)
  • Richard Barnes (Cisco)
  • Peter Eckersley (EFF)
  • Alex Polvi (CoreOS)
  • Pascal Jaillon (OVH)

Technical Advisory Board (TAB)

Our TAB consists of technical experts from major supporting organizations, as well as independent experts with strong CA/PKI industry experience.

  • Rich Salz (Akamai)
  • Joe Hildebrand (Independent)
  • Jacob Hoffman-Andrews (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
  • J.C. Jones (Mozilla)
  • Russ Housley (Independent)
  • Ryan Hurst (Google)
  • Stephen Kent (Independent)
  • Karen O’Donoghue (Internet Society)
  • Ivan Ristic (Independent)

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