How to Install a Wildcard SSL Certificate in Apache Web Server

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Your step-by-step directions for how to install a wildcard SSL certificate on Apache

Most of you reading this article probably know that Apache is a widely used web server distributed under the open-source license that is maintained by the Apache Software Foundation. It’s used to host one or more HTTP-based websites and has built-in support for shared/virtual hosting. To make your websites accessible over a secure connection (i.e. HTTPS), you will need to install an SSL/TLS certificate on your web server. A wildcard SSL certificate secures your domain along with all its accompanying first-level subdomains. This is why we think it’s important to cover how to install a wildcard SSL certificate on your Apache web server.

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Now that we know what these terms mean, let’s discuss how to install wildcard SSL in Apache! Note that regardless of the type of SSL/TLS certificate you are trying to configure on your Apache server, the installation steps remain unchanged.

Install a Wildcard SSL Certificate in Apache Web Server: a Step-by-Step Guide

After generating the certificate signing request (CSR) for your wildcard SSL and placing your order, you can follow the steps below to install the certificate on your Apache server. (Or, if you don’t want to manually install the certificate yourself, you can pay a minimal amount to have our installation service take care of it for you.)

Ideally, the CSR should be generated from the server. If not, ensure that the private key is saved on the Apache server.

How to Install Wildcard SSL in Apache

  1. Begin by downloading all the certificates — your primary server certificate as well as the intermediate certificates that are provided by your CA — and save them in the folder that contains your private key.
  2. Navigate to the /etc/httpd directory, which usually contains the config file titled httpd.conf, and open it with the text editor. Near the bottom of the file, you’ll usually find the <VirtualHost> block. You might also find it in a file named ssl.conf or under directories such as /etc/httpd/vhosts.d/ or /etc/httpd/sites/.
  3. If your site needs to be available over both non-secure (HTTP) and secure (HTTPS) connections, you will need a virtual host for each. Make a copy of the original non-secure virtual host and change the port number from 80 to 443.
  4. In the <VirtualHost> block for the SSL enabled site, change the settings to point to the correct paths for the certificate files and website. The certificate files are usually found within the /etc/ssl/crt/ directory. Alter the settings and adjust the names based upon your sites’ information.
Virtual Host File changes for Wildcard SSL Installation

Here’s a bit of context about what each of these components entails:

  • SSLCertificateFile is the primary certificate file for your server.
  • SSLCertificateKeyFile is the private key generated when you created the CSR.
  • SSLCertificateChainFile is the intermediate certificate file (if any) provided by your certificate authority. If there are multiple Intermediates, you may be required to concatenate the files. If this file does not work, try using SSLCACertificateFile.
  1. Ensure that there are no syntactical errors, save the changes, and close your editor.
  2. Execute the following command to check your Apache server for configuration errors:
/usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl configtest
  • Using one of the following options Restart your Apache web server:

/usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl stop

/usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl restart

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