Reduce Insecurity for free, HTTPS now democratized by LetsEncrypt



I am typing this with my fingers crossed, that I could just get someone to acknowledge that HTTPS is not only prudent but damn easy to setup. Security is not my primary focus, yet I align with most of the InfoSec’s paranoia out there today. A dumb hacker millions of years ago said that, the minimum you could do in security is to use SSL encryption in your communication.

Now that I have uncrossed my fingers. Below is my rough note for setting up a secure instance for which I assume you have an elastic IP in EC2 instance and a DNS pointing using the A-host configuration to this IP. Below is a totally fake domain name which I do not own and is just used for example. No offence to anyone who owns it, I just think its an awesome name.



# This is how I used to generate my insecure self-signed certificate earlier
keytool -genkeypair -dname ", OU=XYZ, O=XYZ, L=PaloAlto, ST=CA, C=US" -alias xyzminime -keyalg RSA -ext -keystore /opt/tomcat7/.keystore

Since I am not an authorized certificate signing authority, all the browsers just flags my certificate as unsecure and block it by default.

This is where LetsEncrypt came for help with their democratic certificate authority. There were some references that I drew inspiration from, to do this thing as a rough note and not a tutorial.



1.) Pre-requisite is to get the certbot client

# Installation taken care by the certbot-auto client
sudo yum install epel-release wget
chmod a+x certbot-auto

# Install the certbot on your instance
sudo ./certbot-auto

Certbot dumps its contents in a folder like below, in my ec2-user local path,
/home/ec2-user/.local/share/letsencrypt/bin/letsencrypt certonly


2.) Generate a certificate

Keep an email address for notification and validation handy for the enrolment with ACME

If you have a functional webserver that needs to be SSLified then use the webroot way otherwise --standalone is preffered
sudo ./certbot-auto certonly -n --rsa-key-size 2048 --agree-tos --email --webroot -w /opt/tomcat7/webapps/ -d
– Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at
Your cert will expire on 2016-12-22. To obtain a new or tweaked
version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot-auto
again. To non-interactively renew *all* of your certificates, run
“certbot-auto renew”
– If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by:
Donating to ISRG / Let’s Encrypt:
Donating to EFF:
The certificates are written to /etc/letsencrypt/live/
export CERT_PATH="/etc/letsencrypt/live/"
 - cert.pem
 - chain.pem
 - fullchain.pem
 - privkey.pem


3.) Create a keystore for Tomcat

Basically there are only two steps required to get our fullchain.pem and privkey.pem inside a JKS. 
First we bundle both our fullchain and the private key in a PKCS12 keystore. 
We do this, because apparently Java’s keytool (which we use to create our JKS),
is not able to import pre-existing keys and certificates into a JKS, as described here.
sudo openssl pkcs12 -export -in "$CERT_PATH"fullchain.pem -inkey "$CERT_PATH"privkey.pem -out fullchain_and_key.p12 -name xyzminime -password pass:mini#123

Now that we have our PKCS12 keystore, we can use Java’s keytool to generate a JKS,
from our PKCS12 file like;
keytool -importkeystore -deststorepass mini#123 -destkeypass mini#123 -destkeystore xyzminime.jks -srckeystore fullchain_and_key.p12 -srcstoretype PKCS12 -srcstorepass mini#123 -alias xyzminime
# Backup and place your self-signed keystore in the tomcat home
mv /opt/tomcat7/.keystore .keystore_backup_1
sudo cp xyzminime.jks /opt/tomcat7/.keystore
Make sure that the 8443 conector configuration in the conf/server.xml is as follows
<Connector port="8443" 
Run the InstallCert utility for java security ca cert 
Compile the InstallCert using javac
java InstallCert
sudo cp jssecacerts /usr/java/jdk1.8.0_73/jre/lib/security/


4.) Automating renewal

# A test run for renewal
certbot-auto renew --dry-run

# Add the following to the cron or systemmd that should run twice daily in case of any certificate invalidation
certbot-auto renew --quiet


Now your tomcat will be able to serve the content over SSL. Verify this by accessing the server on the below URL.




A quick setup for tomcat 7 on CentOS 6. Also, added the SSL configuration with self-signed certificates to run tomcat 7 on HTTPS secured SSL layer

Setup tomcat

1.) Pre-requisite:

Since Java is a major requirement

$ yum install java-1.7.0-openjdk-devel.x86_64

Add the JAVA_HOME environment variable to ~/.bashrc file 
  #Env variables for java
  export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/jre-1.7.0-openjdk.x86_64
  export CATALINA_HOME=/opt/tomcat7
  export PATH=$PATH:$JAVA_HOME/bin

Open the ports that will be used by tomcat for service

Flush the tables before config
$ iptables -F
$ iptables -t nat -F

Now setup INPUT ports
$ iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 8443 -j ACCEPT
$ iptables -I INPUT -p tcp --dport 8080 -j ACCEPT
$ service iptables save
$ service iptables restart

In case we want to route the access from port 80 to tomcats 8080

$ iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-ports 8080
$ iptables -t nat -I OUTPUT -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-ports 8080

2.) Download and setup tomcat 7

$ wget
$ tar -xvzf apache-tomcat-7.0.62.tar.gz
$ mv apache-tomcat-7.0.62 tomcat7
$ mv tomcat7/ /opt/

3.) Create a tomcat specific user and user group. Since the tomcat would be running from a script it should not be root user.

$ groupadd tomcat
$ useradd -g 99 -s /sbin/nologin -d /opt/tomcat7 tomcat
$ passwd tomcat
Adjust Ownership For New Users And Groups. Give the new user access to the tomcat directories. 
$ chown -R tomcat:tomcat /opt/tomcat7
$ chmod 775 /opt/tomcat7/webapps
$ chmod +x /opt/tomcat7/bin/*.sh

4.) Create a startup service script

$ vim /etc/init.d/tomcat
Add the following content to this script
# description: Tomcat Start Stop Restart
# processname: tomcat
# chkconfig: 234 20 80
export PATH

case $1 in
   cd $CATALINA_HOME/bin
   /bin/su -s /bin/bash tomcat ./
   cd $CATALINA_HOME/bin/
   /bin/su -s /bin/bash tomcat ./
   cd $CATALINA_HOME/bin/
   /bin/su -s /bin/bash tomcat ./
   cd $CATALINA_HOME/bin/
   /bin/su -s /bin/bash tomcat ./
exit 0

5.) Add the tomcat script as a service

$ chmod 755 /etc/init.d/tomcat
$ chkconfig --add tomcat
$ chkconfig --level 234 tomcat on
$ chkconfig --list tomcat

6.) Start/Stop the tomcat service

 $ service tomcat start
 $ service tomcat stop

SSL security with self-signed certificates on tomcat

In order to setup this tomcat on SSL Use the following configuration steps,

1.) Generate a keystore file for this server

This will be used as a self-signed certificate for secured connectivity. 
Default path: /home/%user.home%/.keystore
keytool -genkeypair -dname "CN=, OU=Rahul, O=Luhar, L=Vishwakarma, ST=Karnataka, C=IN" -alias mysslsecuredserver -keyalg RSA -ext san=ip:

2.) Add the relevant configuration to the tomcats https connector in conf/server.xml

 maxThreads="150" scheme="https" secure="true"
 clientAuth="false" sslProtocol="TLS" keystoreFile="${user.home}/.keystore" keystorePass="mypassman"/>

3.) Add the server IP to the truststore in order to allow for this self signed certificate

Use the to add the IP to the trusted store
Compile Run the following two commands to generate jssecacerts binary. is the web servers IP.
$ java InstallCert
Copy the generated jssecacerts in this path to %JAVA_HOME%\jre\lib\security

You can also export and import the generated certificate from the keystore with the password and share it with other systems on the network that negotiates with this server.

$ keytool -export -alias mysslsecuredserver -file mysslsecuredserver.cer
  $ keytool -import -trustcacerts -alias mysslsecuredserver -file mysslsecuredserver.cer

Verify the tomcat running and secured via HTTPS.

For a proper SSL shared from a hosting provider. Look at the import into the java cacerts

keytool -import -trustcacerts -file NewRootCACertificate.crt -keystore "%JAVA_HOME%\jre\lib\security\cacert"

Test Link: