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How to Properly Enable HTTPS on Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 16.04/17.10

ubuntu letsencrypt nginx

This tutorial exhibits you ways to correctly allow HTTPS on Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 16.04/17.10. Google Chrome and Firefox have already begun marking non-encrypted net pages with password enter field as being insecure. Ultimately all HTTP net pages might be marked as insecure. HTTPS will turn out to be default for any web site. It’s additionally a requirement if you’d like to make the most of the brand new HTTP/2 protocol to velocity up your web site.

Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificates authority. The official documentation describes easy steps you’ll be able to comply with to allow HTTPS with Let’s Encrypt, however there’s extra to it than that. For those who comply with the official doc, you get an A on SSL Labs check. For those who comply with my steps, you’ll get an A+. When you’ve already deployed a Let’s Encrypt certificates earlier than, you’ll be able to nonetheless comply with this tutorial to renew and substitute your present certificates.

This tutorial is split into Three elements.

  1. The primary half is about CAA document, safety headers and OCSP stapling. This stuff are what may help you get A+.
  2. The second half is about redirect www area to non-www area and vice versa.
  3. I’ll present you ways to deal with CloudFlare CDN service within the third half.

Creating CAA Report for Your Area Identify

Certificates Authority Authorization (CAA) is a DNS useful resource report that specifies which certificates authorities (CAs) are allowed to situation certificates for a specific area identify. Beginning September 2017, All CAs are mandated to examine CAA data earlier than issuing certificates for a specific area identify. If no CAA document is discovered for a website identify, then any CAs can concern certificates for that area identify. If a CA is just not listed in your CAA document, then that CA can’t challenge certificates on your area identify.

To create a CAA report which permits Let’s Encrypt to challenge certificates on your area identify, add the next entry in your DNS server or DNS supervisor.

instance.com. IN CAA zero concern “letsencrypt.org”

You can too use iodef to make CA report malicious certificates challenge request to your e mail tackle.

instance.com. IN CAA zero iodef “mailto:your-email-address”

The format of the above data is for zone information. Under are a number of ideas for you.

You should use the next dig command to examine your CAA report.

dig instance.com CAA

Word that net browsers doesn’t verify CAA data.

Safety Headers

Safety headers are as essential as HTTPS protocol, however solely a small proportion of HTTPS-enabled websites concentrate to these headers. Whereas an entire dialogue about safety headers is past the scope of this tutorial, I would like to speak concerning the upgrade-insecure-requests and HSTS headers, as a result of you possibly can simply allow them with Let’s Encrypt to improve your website’s safety.

Improve Insecure Requests

There are occasions when a website has enabled HTTPS, however some CSS, pictures or JavaScripts are nonetheless served over HTTP. On this case, the inexperienced padlock at the start of browser tackle bar will disappear. In Google Chrome, it’s changed by an information icon; In Firefox, it’s changed by a grey padlock with a yellow triangle. You want to present a inexperienced padlock to website guests as typically as potential and the straightforward method to repair this drawback is to allow upgrade-insecure-requests header, which can pressure the online browser to use https:// for each http:// useful resource.

To allow this header, merely add –uir flag when issuing certbot command. Observe that this header works on assets hosted on your personal area and assets on third-party domains that help HTTPS. In case your net web page consists of assets on third-party servers that aren’t obtainable over HTTPS, then these assets shall be blocked by net browsers, however utilizing this header ensures that your net pages all the time get a inexperienced padlock.

HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Safety)

The HSTS header tells net browsers that each one communication ought to be carried out by way of HTTPS. It defends towards SSL Striping, which is an assault to downgrade from HTTPS to HTTP. To allow this header, merely add –hsts flag when issuing certbot command.

OCSP Stapling

When an internet browser connects to a HTTPS web site, it sends an OCSP (On-line Certificates Standing Protocol) request to the certificates authority (CA) so as to question the revocation standing of the web site’s SSL certificates. This will delay web page loading by 1-Three seconds, in accordance to Firefox telemetry knowledge. To enhance efficiency, web site proprietor can allow OCSP stapling, through which case the online server itself fetches OCSP response signed by CA at common interval and sends it to net browser, thus eliminating the necessity for net browser to contact OCSP server.

To allow OCSP stapling, merely add –staple-ocsp flag when issuing certbot command.

OCSP Should Staple

If a hacker make a pretend, duplicate web site, flip off OCSP staple and in addition block the online browser’s entry to OCSP server, then the online browser will assume it’s OK and proceed to the malicious web site. To unravel this drawback, you’ll be able to allow OCSP should staple on your web site, which tells net browsers that OCSP staple response have to be introduced by your web site throughout HTTPS connection. So when net browsers join to a pretend web site that doesn’t have OCSP staple, it is going to cease the connection.

To allow OCSP should staple, add –must-staple flag when issuing certbot command.

Putting in Let’s Encrypt Shopper on Ubuntu 16.04/17.10

It’s time to get your palms soiled. Beginning Ubuntu 16.04, Let’s Encrypt shopper is included in Ubuntu repository. My suggestion is that you simply set up it from the official Certbot PPA to get the newest model. Run the next instructions. software-properties-common is required if you would like to set up packages from PPA. It’s typically lacking on a default Ubuntu server Set up. python-certbot-nginx is the Certbot Nginx plugin.

sudo apt set up software-properties-common

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:certbot/certbot

sudo apt replace

sudo apt set up certbot python-certbot-nginx

To examine model quantity, run

certbot –version

Pattern output:

certbot zero.19.zero

Utilizing Certbot Nginx Plugin to Enable HTTPS

In case your web site doesn’t use CDN service, then it’s beneficial to use the Nginx plugin to allow HTTPS on Nginx net server, as it could possibly mechanically get hold of SSL/TLS certificates and configure it for you. Run the next command on your Ubuntu server.

sudo certbot –nginx –agree-tos –redirect –uir –hsts –staple-ocsp –must-staple -d www.instance.com,instance.com –email your-email-address


  • –nginx: Use the Nginx authenticator and installer
  • –agree-tos: Agree to Let’s Encrypt phrases of service
  • –redirect: Add 301 redirect.
  • –uir: Add the “Content-Security-Policy: upgrade-insecure-requests” header to each HTTP response.
  • –hsts: Add the Strict-Transport-Safety header to each HTTP response.
  • –staple-ocsp: Allows OCSP Stapling.
  • –must-staple: Provides the OCSP Should Staple extension to the certificates.
  • -d flag is adopted by an inventory of domains, separated by comma. You possibly can add up to 100 domains.
  • –e-mail: E mail used for registration and restoration contact.

You’ll be requested if you would like to obtain emails from EFF(Digital Frontier Basis). After selecting Y or N, your SSL certificates might be mechanically obtained and configured for you, which is indicated by the message under.

ubuntu letsencrypt nginx

Now in case you go to your web site, you possibly can see that HTTP is routinely redirected to HTTPS connection. It seems that the Nginx plugin at present doesn’t help –hsts and –uir flag. To manually add HSTS and upgrade-insecure-requests header, edit your Nginx server block.

sudo nano /and so forth/nginx/conf.d/instance.com.conf

Add the next two strains within the server block.

add_header Strict-Transport-Safety “max-age=15768000; preload” all the time;

add_header Content material-Safety-Coverage upgrade-insecure-requests;

Save and shut the file. Then reload Nginx for the modifications to take impact.

sudo systemctl reload nginx

Testing Your SSL Certificates

Go to ssllabs.com to check your SSL certificates and configuration. As I’ve promised, you get A+. You may also examine in case your area identify has enabled CAA document, whether or not your server has enabled HSTS, OCSP stapling and OCSP should staple.

ubuntu certbot nginx

Redirecting WWW to Non-WWW (Or Vice-Versa)

We have now already enabled redirecting HTTP to HTTPS, what’s left to do is redirect www to non-www, or vice versa. In case you are utilizing WordPress, then it’s very straightforward. Merely go to WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Basic and set your most popular model (www or non-www) in WordPress Handle and Website Handle.

letsencrypt nginx redirect

Should you go that route, you’ll find yourself with what’s often known as double 301 redirect. First, Nginx server redirect HTTP to HTTPS, then WordPress redirects to www or non-www area. Some might argue that double 301 redirect can harm your website’s web optimization. In case you are fearful about that, then you should use the tactic under to make all area variations to go immediately to the ultimate vacation spot.

Edit your Nginx server block.

sudo nano /and so forth/nginx/conf.d/instance.com.conf

CertBot shopper added the next strains to the file to redirect HTTP to HTTPS.

if ($scheme != “https”)
return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
# managed by Certbot

You’ll be able to delete these Three strains and edit your server block configurations just like the screenshot under to redirect non-www to www area.

  • The primary server block listens on port 80.  It incorporates a 301 redirect to redirect HTTP to HTTPS.
  • The second server block listens on port 443. It incorporates a 301 redirect to redirect non-www to www area.

lets encrypt nginx redirec non-www to www

If you need to redirect www to non-www area, then change

return 301 https://www.example.com$request_uri;


return 301 https://example.com$request_uri;

And alter the server_name directive within the SSL server blocks.

Save and shut the file. Check Nginx configurations.

sudo nginx -t

If the check is profitable, reload Nginx  for the modifications to take impact.

sudo systemctl reload nginx

In case you are utilizing WordPress, be sure to set your most popular area model in WoredPress Handle and Website Handle earlier than modifying Nginx server block configuration file. If WordPress settings contradicts with Nginx configuration, your website might be in a redirect loop.

Certificates Auto Renewal

To mechanically renew Let’s Encrypt certificates, merely edit root consumer’s crontab file.

sudo crontab -e

Then add the next line on the backside.

@every day certbot renew –quiet && systemctl reload nginx

–quiet flag will suppress commonplace output. If you’d like to obtain normal error, then add the next line firstly of crontab file.


Reloading Nginx is required for it for current the brand new certificates to shoppers.

Setting PATH in Crontab

Typically Cron sends me the next message, which might be additionally seen in /var/log/letsencrypt/letsencrypt.log file.

Couldn’t select applicable plugin for updaters: The nginx plugin shouldn’t be working; there could also be issues with your present configuration.
The error was: NoInstallationError()

The reason for this error is that by default the PATH in Cron is about to


However the nginx binary is situated at /usr/sbin/nginx, Cron can’t discover it with the default PATH. To repair this error, add the next line originally of Crontab file.


CloudFlare CDN

If you would like to set up Let’s Encrypt certificates on your server and on the similar time use CloudFlare’s CDN service, then you will have to allow CloudFlare’s Common SSL on your website, which suggests

  • Connections between website guests and CloudFlare edge server are encrypted utilizing CloudFlare Common SSL certificates
  • Connections between your origin server and CloudFlare edge server are encrypted utilizing Let’s Encrypt issued certificates.

For those who set up Let’s Encrypt certificates on your origin server and redirect HTTP to HTTPS, however flip off CloudFlare Common SSL, Net browsers will complain that your web site is in a infinite redirect loop as a result of CloudFlare redirect HTTPS to HTTP when Common SSL shouldn’t be enabled.

The second factor you want to know is that if you would like to allow CAA report whereas utilizing CloudFlare Common SSL, then you definitely additionally want to create the next CAA document.

instance.com. IN CAA zero challenge “comodoca.com”

instance.com. IN CAA zero problem “digicert.com”

instance.com. IN CAA zero difficulty “globalsign.com

Comply with this publish to add CAA report for CloudFlare Common SSL certificates.

So how do you go about putting in Let’s Encrypt certificates with CloudFlare? Nicely, there are two situations.

  1. You’ve already put in Let’s Encrypt certificates utilizing the above steps, now you need to allow CloudFlare CDN service.
  2. Your web site is utilizing CloudFlare CDN service, now you need to set up Let’s Encrypt certificates on your origin server.

The First State of affairs

In case you are within the first state of affairs, then you possibly can go forward and allow CloudFlare CDN service and in addition allow CloudFlare Common SSL in CloudFlare Dashboard by going to Crypto > SSL and selecting Full (Strict). Your website can be working high-quality and not using a drawback.

The Second State of affairs

The Certbot Nginx plugin makes use of Nginx as each the authenticator and installer. The Nginx authenticator makes use of the tls-sni-01 problem to show area management. Meaning Certbot wants to arrange a short lived TLS server listening on port 443. It gained’t work in case your website is behind a CDN like CloudFlare as Let’s Encrypt authenticate server can’t see your origin IP, thus can’t attain the short-term TLS server on your origin server.

In the event you use CloudFlare CDN and now you need to set up Let’s Encrypt on your origin server, then you will want to use the webroot authenticator to acquire certificates and use Nginx installer to mechanically configure SSL/TLS. Specify authenticator with –authenticator flag and the installer with –installer flag like under. /var/www/html/ is the trail to net root. Change it accordingly.

sudo certbot –authenticator webroot –installer nginx -w /var/www/html/ –agree-tos –redirect –uir –hsts –staple-ocsp –must-staple -d www.instance.com,instance.com –email your-email-address

After the certificates is obtained and put in on your server, keep in mind to allow CloudFlare Common SSL.

I hope this tutorial helped you allow HTTPS on Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 16.04/17.10. As all the time, in the event you discovered this publish helpful, then subscribe to our free publication to get extra ideas and tips.

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