How to Secure Apache With Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 18.04 & Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Let’s Encrypt is a certificate authority (CA) providing free SSL/TLS certificates for enhanced security freely. You can generate CA-singed SSL certificate for any domain, subdomain without any cost and use on your server. It also provides an option to auto-renew SSL certificates for long time use.

Step 1 – Prerequisites

Before starting work on this task, I assume you already have:

  • Running Ubuntu system with sudo privileges shell access.
  • A domain name registered and pointed to your server’s public IP address. For this tutorial, we use example.com and www.example.com, which is pointed to our server.
  • Running Apache2 server with VirtualHost configured for example.com and www.example.com for Port 80.

Step 2 – Install Let’s Encrypt Client

You can download the certbot-auto Let’s Encrypt client and save it in /usr/sbin directory. Use the following command to do it.

sudo wget https://dl.eff.org/certbot-auto -O /usr/sbin/certbot-auto
sudo chmod a+x /usr/sbin/certbot-auto

Step 3 – Issue SSL from Let’s Encrypt

Let’s Encrypt performs Domain Validation (DV) automatically with multiple challenges. Once the Certificate Authority (CA) verified the authenticity of your domain, the SSL certificate will be issued.

You don’t need to create VirtualHost for SSL/HTTPS, Let’s encrypt will create it. You only need to create VirtualHost for port 80 only.

sudo certbot-auto --apache -d example.com  -d www.example.com

Above command will prompt for an email address, which is used for sending email alerts related to SSL renewal and expiration. Also, asks a few more questions. After completion, it will issue an SSL certificate and will also create a new VirtualHost configuration file on your system.

Step 4 – Configure SSL Auto-Renew

In the end, configure the following job on your server crontab to auto-renew SSL certificate if required.

0 2 * * * sudo certbot-auto -q renew