SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

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Please note: For new "Version 3" hosting servers, see the bottom of this topic page for information regarding obtaining an SSL Cert for your account. If you are unsure about the version of the server that your account resides, please contact support@he.net for further assistance.

This information only pertains to Hurricane Electric's Shared Web Hosting package. There may be different information in our other categories.


What does SSL mean?

SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. It is a protocol used for authenticating and encrypting web traffic. For web traffic to be authenticated means that your browser is able to verify the identity of the remote server. For web traffic to be encrypted means that traffic between the server and your browser is scrambled so that it is unintelligible if intercepted.

How do I use SSL?

All accounts include a secure web directory. Your secure web directory is named:

/home/accountname/secure_html

where accountname is your account name.

In order to use SSL, you will need to have your own SSL certificate for your site.

You can either purchase the SSL certificate from a vendor, or use a self signed certificate.

To start the process, you will need to first generate a CSR.

What is a CSR?

The CSR is a Certificate Signing Request.

Our CSR generator is available via the "manage secure certificates" page in the https://admin.he.net account management system.

How can I install a certificate for my website?

Just click on "manage secure certificates" in the https://admin.he.net account management system to bring up the CSR generator and secure certificate installation tool.

Next, verify all the information, and then click the "generate" button.

This will generate the CSR for you.

After that, you can click on "step 2" at the top.

That will install the "self-signed" certificate for you.

What is the difference between self-signed certificates and vendor signed certificates?

Self-signed certificates generate warnings in web browsers.

You might want to consider a vendor signed cert if you think that your users may be unnerved by browser warnings which will come up with a self-signed certificate.

If you do decide to get a vendor-signed cert instead, you will need to purchase the cert from any vendor, such as Godaddy.com, GeoTrust, VeriSign, or any other certificate authority.

The proccess will involve sending the CSR code to the vendor, then getting back the certificate code from them and copy/pasting it into the proper fields under "step 3" in the "manage secure certificates" feature in the https://admin.he.net account management system.

What advantage, if any, is there to a secure page using SSL?

The page and any response using forms on it are encrypted in transit so that eavesdroppers which may observe raw traffic passing through their networks can't read it.

The use of a secure form increases the willingness of people to submit orders online using their credit card, which means increased sales for you.

How do I use frames with SSL?

When using frames with ssl, a new window must be created, otherwise ssl will not work.

How do I get an SSL Cert for my account on a new "Version 3" server?

On new servers, Hurricane Electric no longer provides a shared server SSL Certificate. If you wish to use SSL with your account, you can either purchase a cert from your registrar or install a "self-signed" cert.

To install a certificate sourced at either option, simply log in to your account at https://admin.he.net and select "Manage Secure Certificates". There, it will list step-by-step instructions on generating a CSR and installing your certificate.

My security scan company told me I had to disable SSLv2 on my website! Can you do that?

This isn't something we globally disable at this time. There are still a vast amount of people on old browsers that do not support SSLv3, which is unfortunate.

Creation of an .htaccess file in your secure_html directory with the following line should correct this issue:

SSLCipherSuite ALL:-ADH:+HIGH:-MEDIUM:-LOW:-SSLv2:-EXP

This will also take care of any warnings your scan company is giving you about low & medium length ciphers.