Creating a Self-Signed SSL Certificate for Free

Self-Signed SSL Certificates are a great way to setup temporary test and development servers. They are also a great way to utilize Microsoft and Linux services with a small group of people such as your office staff. There seems to be a lot of confusion and head scratching out there though concerning the method and steps to properly deploy a self-signed ssl certificate amongst desktops, servers and devices of the Microsoft and Linux variations. With a series of how to posts, I plan on showing you how easy it really is to use these types of certificates to your advantage.

SSL Certificate Protecting a Website

About SSL Certificates

SSL Certificates are digital keys used to authenticate network entities such as a client or a server. It is most famous for acting as the key for encrypted website transactions between a company’s server and an Internet user’s browser. Go Daddy $12.99 SSL Sale!If you ever purchase anything from an eCommerce website or accessed your bank account or other Financial Institution, you have used a Secure Socket Layer Certificate to ensure the trust between that server and your browser. SSL Certificates can also be used to secure other types of Internet Traffic such as Email including POP3, SMTP, IMAP and Microsoft Exchange.

When a client starts up a conversation with a server and requests that a Secure Socket Layer is created between the two parties, the server responds to the client with its SSL Certificate. The client can then validate the authenticity of the server ensuring that the server is who it claims to be. To authenticate that identity, the SSL Certificate is signed by a Certificate Authority (CA) such as Verisign, Thawte, a web hosting company such as Go Daddy or another trusted third party entity. The SSL Certificate comes with one of these trusted Certificate Authority signatures. When the client follows the Chain of Trust which can be checked against the CA’s public key, it can determine if the chain is acceptable by comparing the chain to the root certificates each operating system includes.

Diagram of SSL Certificate Verification Process

About Self-signed Certificates

A self-signed certificate differs in that it has signed itself, therefore it has no chain of trust. When a client receives such a certificate, it will warn the user that the certificate cannot be verified. Obviously, if you are attempting to setup a server and services that will be used by other Internet users you do not know, you will want to purchase a legitimate signed certificate. However, if you are attempting to set services up that will be used for internal company use, you can become your very own Certificate Authority for FREE!

Over the next few days, I will be adding addition posts to this series. I will cover the following topics:

  • How to create a self-signed certificate in Microsoft Windows using OpenSSL
  • How to create a self-signed certificate in Linux
  • How to use the created self-signed certificate in Internet Information Server (IIS 7)
  • How to use the created self-signed certificate in Microsoft Exchange 2010 enabling:
    • Secure Outlook Web Access
    • Secure ActiveSync for Mobile Devices
    • Secure Outlook Anywhere allowing remote use of Microsoft Outlook
  • How to use the created self-signed certificate in Apache 2 and LAMP
  • How to use the created self-signed certificate with Linux POP3, SMTP and IMAP Services
  • Replace your Webmin self-signed certificate with your own

Stay tuned for more details very soon!

TightVNC Windows Installation

This page contains instructions to install TightVNC on your computer system. There are two parts to this How-TO. The first part can be completed on your own; the second part which involves initialization and activation can be completed onsite or over the phone. Please feel free to call us at anytime if you have questions concerning either of these parts.

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What is TightVNC

Dear Customers and Partners,

SOHOLogics is proud to announce the release of a new application that will make administration and technical support much easier, faster and less expensive than the current on-site services we offer. After evaluating a technology called VNC, we are pleased to offer this new service to all of our customers and feel that this will empower us to assist your business better with the support and maintenance we currently perform for you. Below is some further information on what VNC is and how we plan to use this software to lower support costs and provide faster technical support for your business.

What Is TightVNC?

VNC (an abbreviation for Virtual Network Computing) is a great client/server software package allowing remote network access to graphical desktops. With VNC, you can access your machine from everywhere provided that your machine is connected to the Internet. VNC is free (released under the GNU General Public License) and it’s available on most platforms including Windows, Macintosh, UNIX and Linux.

TightVNC is an enhanced version of VNC which includes a lot of new features, improvements, optimizations and bug fixes over the original VNC version (see the list of features below for further information). Note that TightVNC is still free, cross-platform and compatible with the standard VNC. Many users agree that TightVNC is the most advanced free remote desktop package. And it’s being actively developed so you can expect that TightVNC will become even better.

TightVNC can be used to perform remote control and administration tasks in Windows, UNIX and mixed network environments. It can be very helpful in distance learning, remote customer support and remote user access. Finally, you can find a number of additional VNC-compatible utilities and packages that can extend the areas where TightVNC can be helpful.

TightVNC is a project maintained by Constantin Kaplinsky. Many other individuals and companies participate in development, testing and support.

How TightVNC Differs from Other VNC Products?

The following features are offered by TightVNC:

  • Compression Capabilities allowing VNC to be utilities over lower bandwidth connections such as a 56KBps Modem or ISDN.
  • Secure Transmission Capabilities enabled to protect VNC information from being “sniffed” by hackers.
  • Provides VNC service on multiple platforms including Windows 95/98/98SE/ME/NT 4.0/2000/XP, Linux (all distributions), UNIX (all distributions) and Macintosh.
  • Only requires an Internet connection and can work from within a secure fire walled network.
  • Can be used to perform remote administration and support or for computer training.
  • Customers can utilize VNC to connect and use their computers remotely from anywhere in the world.

Compatibility and Interoperability

TightVNC is fully compatible with the standard RFB protocol used in VNC, so you can use TightVNC viewer with the standard VNC server and vice versa. But note that protocol enhancements implemented in TightVNC will work only if these enhancements are supported on both sides of the connection.

TightVNC Features

Here is a brief list of TightVNC features absent in the standard VNC.

  • Local cursor handling. Cursor movements do not generate screen updates any more, remote cursor movements are processed locally by the viewer, so you do not see slow remote cursor movements behind the local cursor.
  • Efficient compression algorithms. New ‘Tight’ encoding is optimized for slow and medium-speed connections and thus generates much less traffic as compared to traditional VNC encodings. At the same time, TightVNC supports all the standard VNC encodings, so it can operate efficiently over fast networks, too. Thus, with TightVNC you can work remotely almost in real time in most network environments.
  • Configurable compression levels. You can choose any appropriate level of compromise between compression ratios and coding speed, depending on your connection speed and processor pow
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