How to Install Free SSL with Let’s Encrypt

One of the downsides of using Internet today is that you are open to everyone in the world. There is no concept of privacy when it comes to Internet. Security is becoming the biggest concern in today’s era. From government organizations to small businesses, all suffers breaches all the time. We often hear about cases that someone having their credit card number or identity stolen. Most of these incidents happen because websites don’t use SSL.

Today I’m going to share how you can easily install a Free SSL certificate on a website hosted at BlueHost servers. But before we get into the steps, why not read all about SSL certificates.

Free SSL Certificate by Let’s Encrypt:

Let’s Encrypt is a new Certificate authority that launched on April 12, 2016 that provides free X.509 certificates for Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption via an automated process designed to eliminate the current complex process of manual creation, validation, signing, installation, and renewal of certificates for secure websites.  which is free, automated and open. It is sponsored by some major companies including Mozilla, Cisco and Facebook.

If you’d like to know more about how Let’s Encrypt works behind the scenes, check out how it works page.

This certificate does not work with some major hosting companies like BlueHost. While experimenting with this service, I got in touch with Bluehost’s customer support and asked why don’t they support this certificate. One of the representative replied: “Unfortunately, we do not support that SSL. If you wish you can purchase the SSL certificate with us.” Clearly this was not the answer to my question so I asked again politely why not supporting this when it is sponsored by some major companies including Mozilla and Facebook. Again, instead of answering the actual question, the support guy referred me to their shared SSL and provided links to set it up.

I know this sucks but if you really want to use this free SSL, I’d highly recommend to go for Dreamhost as they do not have such restrictions. In fact, you won’t even need to perform the following steps. Their system will handle all the things from creating the private keys and installing the certificate.

How to Install Free SSL on any web host

Let’s Encrypt offers clients to install their certificate. The most recommended client is certbot. It’s easy to use, works on many operating systems and have a decent documentation. There are many more clients to choose from. But we promised to share the easiest way so here you go.

We’ll be using Let’s Encrypt’s web client ZeroSSL.

Open ZeroSSL’s website

Install Free SSL

Clink “Online Tools” button.

ZeroSSL by Let's Encrypt

Then Click “Start”

You’ll be prompted to enter details. Enter your E-mail and domain name. You can leave the other fields as they are.

Check Accept ZeroSSl and Let’s Encrypt SA

Free SSL Installation

Hit Next button.

Free SSL on Bluehost with Let's Encrypt

After generating CSR, download the CSR file or copy all the text from CSR field into your favorite text editor. Hit NEXT

Let's Encrypt on Bluehost

The page will then generate your account key. Download the account key file and save both CSR and public key in a safe place.

Free SSL by ZeroSSL

Now come’s the domain verification part. Open File Manager from cPanel and enter in your Root directory. In case of shared server with primary domain it will be Public_html or locate the folder where your website is installed.

Now create a New Folder named “.well-known” and enter inside this folder and create a  New Folder again named “acme-challenge” Enter this folder and create the two files as mentioned above.

After creating the two files hit NEXT button.

ZeroSSL will verify the ownership of the domain and will present you with the certificate. Copy the certificate in a text editor and save it on a safe place.

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