Skip to main content

Setting up CloudFlare's Universal SSL and Origin CA on Plan 28

Although I work for CloudFlare there are some products that I haven't experienced as a customer and it's always fun and useful to actually behave as a customer and try them out. I like to do this to make sure the experience is good and try to spot bugs.

CloudFlare recently released a feature called Origin CA that generates a certificate you can drop onto your web server to ensure that the connection between CloudFlare and the server is secure. CloudFlare also offers a feature called Universal SSL that offers free SSL connections for the connection between a web browser and CloudFlare. Put the two together and you've got SSL from browser to CloudFlare and CloudFlare to the origin web server. Neat.

One of my domains, plan28.org, had a web site that was served over HTTP and I decided to SSL it using CloudFlare. I'd seen it demoed but there's nothing like trying it out for yourself. It was really quick to get set up. plan28.org is on CloudFlare's free tier.


Here are the steps I took starting from logging into my account and verifying that I didn't have any SSL set up for this web site:

Then I clicked the Crypto button to get to the settings for Universal SSL and Origin CA.

And I enabled SSL for the site by clicking the SSL button from Off to Full (Strict). That makes CloudFlare issue a certificate for plan28.org and start serving it publicly and at the same time ensure that it will secure the connection from CloudFlare to my web server by using SSL and checking the validity of the certificate that my web server presents.

Boom. plan28.org was now available over http:// and https:// (although the latter wouldn't work until I had a valid certificate on the server). Next stop was a quick scroll down to find the Origin Certificates settings on the same page.

Clicking Create Certificate gave me a pop up where I could select the certificate type (RSA or ECDSA), validity period and add SAN names as needed.



With those selected hitting Create resulted in the very fast creation of a certificate and the corresponding private key.


I copy and pasted them over to the server, configured NGINX for SSL, restarted NGINX and... it worked!

Total time: 10 minutes (most of which was messing around getting NGINX configured correctly). Now you can visit plan28.org securely.

Comments

Unknown said…
Cool. Now you need to add the right header to upgrade HTTP connections to HTTPS. See https://blog.nella.org/strictly-https/
Grumble said…
"configured NGINX for SSL"

HOW?

Great tutorial but the people who need this level of help (me) now get half the job done because you assume we know how to configure nginx. If we were that clever, this tutorial would be beneath us. Please complete the tutorial for us noobs.

Popular posts from this blog

Your last name contains invalid characters

My last name is "Graham-Cumming". But here's a typical form response when I enter it:


Does the web site have any idea how rude it is to claim that my last name contains invalid characters? Clearly not. What they actually meant is: our web site will not accept that hyphen in your last name. But do they say that? No, of course not. They decide to shove in my face the claim that there's something wrong with my name.

There's nothing wrong with my name, just as there's nothing wrong with someone whose first name is Jean-Marie, or someone whose last name is O'Reilly.

What is wrong is that way this is being handled. If the system can't cope with non-letters and spaces it needs to say that. How about the following error message:

Our system is unable to process last names that contain non-letters, please replace them with spaces.

Don't blame me for having a last name that your system doesn't like, whose fault is that? Saying "Your last name …

All the symmetrical watch faces (and code to generate them)

If you ever look at pictures of clocks and watches in advertising they are set to roughly 10:10 which is meant to be the most attractive (smiling!) position for the hands. They are actually set to 10:09.14 if the hands are truly symmetrical. CC BY 2.0image by Shinji
I wanted to know what all the possible symmetrical watch faces are and so I wrote some code using Processing. Here's the output (there's one watch face missing, 00:00 or 12:00, because it's very boring):



The key to writing this is to figure out the relationship between the hour and minute hands when the watch face is symmetrical. In an hour the minute hand moves through 360° and the hour hand moves through 30° (12 hours are shown on the watch face and 360/12 = 30).
The core loop inside the program is this:   for (int h = 0; h <= 12; h++) {
    float m = (360-30*float(h))*2/13;
    int s = round(60*(m-floor(m)));
    int col = h%6;
    int row = floor(h/6);
    draw_clock((r+f)*(2*col+1), (r+f)*(row*2+1), r, h, floor(m…

Importing an existing SSL key/certificate pair into a Java keystore

I'm writing this blog post in case anyone else has to Google that. In Java 6 keytool has been improved so that it now becomes possible to import an existing key and certificate (say one you generated outside of the Java world) into a keystore.

You need: Java 6 and openssl.

1. Suppose you have a certificate and key in PEM format. The key is named host.key and the certificate host.crt.

2. The first step is to convert them into a single PKCS12 file using the command: openssl pkcs12 -export -in host.crt -inkey host.key > host.p12. You will be asked for various passwords (the password to access the key (if set) and then the password for the PKCS12 file being created).

3. Then import the PKCS12 file into a keystore using the command: keytool -importkeystore -srckeystore host.p12 -destkeystore host.jks -srcstoretype pkcs12. You now have a keystore named host.jks containing the certificate/key you need.

For the sake of completeness here's the output of a full session I performe…