Posts Tagged ‘LetsEncrypt’

How to automate LetsEncrypt

Friday, December 11th, 2015

A new service is born: Let’s Encrypt. It offers free SSL certificates that you can use for web servers, email servers or whatever service you want to secure with TLS. This blog post presents my strategy to automate certificate creation and renewal. Please, install Let’s Encrypt on your web server box before you start to follow the presented strategy.

The key to success is to have Let’s Encrypt running without any further interaction. I use webroot authentication – which allows me to leave the productive web service up and running while the certificates are being issued or renewed. Therefore, I created a file named “myserver.ini” in folder /etc/letsencrypt. This configuration file contains all details that are required for the certification process;

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rsa-key-size = 4096
authenticator = webroot
webroot-path = /path/to/webroot/
server = https://acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory
renew-by-default = True
agree-tos
email = <my-email-address>
domains = domain1.com, domain2.com

The second component of my strategy is the central piece: a script called “renewCertificates.pl”:

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#!/usr/bin/perl
 
my $DOMAINS = {
    'myserver' => {
        'configFile' => '/etc/letsencrypt/myserver.ini',
        'leSubDir'   => 'domain1.com',
        'certDir'    => '/var/www/domain1.com/certs',
    },
};
 
my $domain;
my $renewed = 0;
chdir ('/usr/local/letsencrypt');
foreach $domain (keys(%{$DOMAINS})) {
    print "INFO  - $domain - START\n";
    my $cmd = '/usr/local/scripts/checkCertExpiry.sh 30 '.$DOMAINS->{$domain}->{'certDir'}.'/cert.pem >/dev/null';
    my $rc = system($cmd);
    if ($rc) {
        $cmd = './letsencrypt-auto certonly --config '.$DOMAINS->{$domain}->{'configFile'}.' --renew-by-default';
        $rc = system($cmd);
        if (!$rc) {
            $cmd = 'cp /etc/letsencrypt/live/'.$DOMAINS->{$domain}->{'leSubDir'}.'/* '.$DOMAINS->{$domain}->{'certDir'}.'/';
            $rc = system($cmd);
            if ($rc) {
                print "ERROR - $domain - Cannot deploy\n";
            } else {
                print "INFO  - $domain - Deployed\n";
                $renewed = 1;
            }
        } else {
            print "ERROR - $domain - Cannot generate certificates\n";
        }
    } else {
        print "INFO  - $domain - Certificate does not expire within 30 days\n";
    }
    print "INFO  - $domain - END");
}
 
if ($renewed) {
   system("/etc/init.d/apache2 reload");
}
 
exit 0;

This scripts allows renewal of multiple certificates by supporting multiple configurations. Lines 3-9 describe these configurations. leSubDir (line 6) is the sub directory that Let’s Encrypt creates in the certification process. It is the name of the first domain specified in the configuration file, here: domain1.com. certDir (line 7) is the target path where the certificates will be deployed to.

A second script supports this procedure by telling whether a certificate will expire within a certain number of days (see line 16 above):

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#!/bin/bash
 
# First parameter specifies if certificate expire in the next X days
DAYS=$1
 
target=$2
if [ ! -f "$target" ]; then
    echo "Certificate does not exist (RC=2)"
    exit 2;
fi
 
openssl x509 -checkend $(( 86400 * $DAYS )) -enddate -in "$target" >/dev/null 2>&1
expiry=$?
if [ $expiry -eq 0 ]; then
    echo "Certificate will not expire (RC=0)"
    exit 0
else
    echo "Certificate will expire (RC=1)"
    exit 1
fi

This script returns 0 when the given certificate will not expire, otherwise it returns a non-0 value. The Perl script above will renew certificates 30 days before expiration only.

The last piece is the Apache configuration to be used on these domains:

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    SSLEngine on
    SSLCertificateFile /var/www/domain1.com/certs/cert.pem
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /var/www/domain1.com/certs/privkey.pem
    SSLCertificateChainFile /var/www/domain1.com/certs/fullchain.pem

I run the central Perl script above daily and do not need to worry about certificates anymore 🙂

The next blog post will explain how to configure the script and Apache when you want to use the same certificate on multiple domains that have individual web roots.