Every year, we see more and more companies adopt a more innovative approach to their business models. One such approach is to outsource their information technology functions to a company that specializes in serverless hosting. This allows them to focus on their core business. So if you’re an IT specialist that specializes in managing web servers, you can probably imagine the appeal of working for a company that doesn’t require you to run a server to fulfill your job duties. This is the type of setup that hostes like AWS, DigitalOcean, and Rackspace offer, which is exactly why you might want to consider working in a serverless environment if you’re interested in this type of opportunity.
One of the primary requirements of anyone that decides to work for a hosting company that specializes in serverless hosting is the ability to enable HTTPS on their web servers. This is something that most shared hosting plans do not offer, and many companies that specialize in providing a serverless web hosting service will not even consider your application for a job unless you’re able to provide them with proof of having implemented HTTPS on a previous project. This is where self-signed certificates come in handy. A self-signed certificate is a certificate that is not signed by a trusted certificate authority (CA), such as VeriSign or Thawte.
While most people think of a self-signed certificate as being something that was generated by a computer, it doesn’t need to be. Any person with a secure login on a web server that is using self-signed certificates is able to generate their own self-signed certificate. The only requirement is that they must have a domain that they can secure with the certificate, and they must install the certificate on their web server.
Why would someone want to generate a self-signed certificate? The answer is quite easy: for authentication purposes. For example, if you’re the webmaster for a small business named John Doe Enterprises, and you want to create an authorization website that customers can use to make purchases or access certain information about your company, you could use a self-signed certificate to protect the admin area of your website from unauthorized access. Once you’ve generated the self-signed certificate, you can upload it to your web server so that it becomes available for your customers to use when they visit your site.
The above is just one of the many ways that self-signed certificates can be useful. If you’d like to learn more, here are a few links that you can use to get started:
- How to Install a Self-Signed Certificate in Amazon Web Service (AWS)
- How to Create a Custom SSL Certificate for a Web Server
- A Hands-on Guide to Self-Signed Certificates
- Self-Signed Certificates: Why You Should Consider Them
How to Import Self-Signed Certificate in AnyConnect SSL VPN Client
If you’ve ever used any type of VPN software before, you’ll know that importing a certificate is usually quite easy. However, for those that are unfamiliar, let’s walk through the process.
Using AnyConnect SSL VPN client to create a self-signed certificate is quite simple. Just follow these steps:
1. Log into your AnyConnect account.
2. Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner and select Settings.
3. In the Settings pane that appears, click the Certificates tab and click the Add button in the lower-right corner.
4. In the Certificate Request dialog that appears, either accept the certificate request by clicking the Install button or ignore it by clicking the Reject button. In most cases, the certificate will be accepted automatically.
5. After accepting the certificate, you’ll be returned to the settings screen. Click the Ok button to close the settings screen and return to the main AnyConnect login screen.
Now that you have a self-signed certificate, you can use it to connect to your AWS instance for serverless hosting. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Navigate to the AWS Management Console and select your AWS account from the top left.
2. Select EC2 from the top menu and then click the Launch Instance button to create a new instance.
3. Fill in the Name field with a memorable name for your server and then click the Create button.
4. Select the Instance Type option as Classic (this is usually the best choice if you’re creating a dedicated server for running a single website or application). Click the Review and Launch button to proceed to the Review screen.
5. On the Review screen, you can optionally select a security group for your new server. A security group is a collection of rules that determine what types of traffic can pass through a network interface on an AWS instance. In most cases, a server will have only one security group associated with it (unless you’ve explicitly created other security groups).
6. To connect to your self-signed certificate, click the Network Connection tab and then select the option to Create a new VPN connection. Select the I’m on the Go button to create the connection and then type in the server address (for example, ec2-xx-xx-xx-xx.compute-1.amazonaws.com) for Protocol, the port (for example, 443) for Port, and enter your authentication details (for example, username and password).
7. Once you’ve connected to your Amazon Web Services instance, select the drop-down menu at the top of the screen and then select Connect.
You should now be able to browse the web securely. If you ever want to disconnect from your AWS instance, you can select Disconnect at the top of the screen and then select Yes at the dialog that appears.