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!

Adding A Little Bit Of You Into Email

Wish you could express your individuality, represent your business in a unique and creative way, or just looking to include your contact information without having to type it all out? Microsoft Outlook has an answer, with its capability to sign each of your outgoing emails with a generic signature. Wanting to express yourself?

  1. Click Tools, and then select Options.

  2. After the “Options” dialogue box appears, select the Mail Format Tab, and click the Signatures button.
  3. Click the New… button, and another dialogue box should appear.
  4. Enter a title for your new signature, and click Next.
  5. Enter your desired Signature within the field, editing where desired with the Font… and Paragraph… buttons for more personality.

  6. Lastly, click Finish.

Setup Outlook to Check Your Email Every 10 Minutes

Ever wanted to automate Microsoft Outlook to download your email at a set interval? Tired of always having to hit that Send/Receive button? Now you can setup Microsoft Outlook to receive your email every 10 minutes. Here’s how.

  1. Click Tools, and select Options.
  2. Select the Mail Setup tab in the “Options” window.

  3. Check the Send immediately when connected check box, and then click the Send/Receive… button.
  4. Check the Schedule an automatic send/receive check box, and select your send/receive for every 10 or more minutes.
      Note: It is very important not to schedule your send/receive for less than ten minutes, to avoid clogging and overrunning your local server.

Setup an Out Of Office Notification For Your SOHO.Mail

Ever wondered how to setup an out of office reply for your SOHOLogics mail account? If you host with us, this tutorial will show you how.
First thing is first, you must have your email username and password. Check your hosting setup email for help. If you do not have the setup email, feel free to call SOHOLogics to request your password. You can reach us at 214.766.7168.
Note: You have to host your domain with SOHOLogics for this article to work. If you do not currently host with us, please check out our Web Hosting page for further details on how you can join SOHOLogics.
Now that you are ready, let us get started…

  1. Open your web browser and enter the following URL:
  2. You can alternatively access the web mail software by visiting our website at and clicking on the Client E-mail Access link.

  3. You will be presented with a login page to Usermin. Enter your username and password and click Login.

  4. Click on the Mail icon on the gray toolbar, then, click on the Vacation Auto-Reply icon.

  5. You will enter the Vacation Auto-Reply setup page. Configure as follows:
    1. Enter your Subject and Message Body as you wish.
    2. Make sure your email address is correct in the From input box.
    3. Click the Enable Vacation button when finished.

  6. Do not forget to log out when finished to protect your email account from unauthorized access.

  7. Here is a sample message the server generated after I setup a vacation message and then emailed the account.

    That is it. You are finished. You now know how to setup an out of office notification.

    When you return to the office, just log back into Usermin, go back to the Vacation Auto-Reply page and select Disable Vacation.

    Have a safe trip!

Files Over Email: Sometimes Size Does Matter (1of3)

Have you ever needed to send a big file through email? Have you ever seen that ominous error message your email program spits out when it finally determines its too big? Have you ever had to wait hours to send that email attachment? Maybe size does matters.
Well, how about diving into that really cold pool and shrinking that email to a smaller size. That’s what WinZip and other compression programs that are available on the Internet will do for you. So, let’s get small!

  1. First, lets start by going to is the best place to download WinZip because you can download an older version which works much better for our shrinking purposes. However, you can get the latest version at

  2. Once loads, scroll down to the Utilities section and locate the WinZip link.

  3. The next page will show a list of all the versions of WinZip that are available. I recommend you install WinZip 8.1 SR-1.

  4. Click the download link to start the download. When prompted, select Save As. Save the file to your Desktop.

  5. After the download finishes, find the installation program on your desktop. It should look something like the below icon. Double click on it to start the installation.

  6. The installation will start. Select Setup.

  7. Click Ok to accept the path where WinZip will live.

  8. Select Next on this screen.

  9. Legal Speak: blah blah blah, blah blah. Select Yes.

  10. Click Next on this window to get the installation rolling.

  11. On this screen, you can select between the Wizard view or the Classic view. I prefer the classic view because it gives you more options. I cover the classic view in this article. Make your selection and then click Next.

  12. On this screen, select the Express installation to speed things up. Then select Next.

  13. Click Next on this screen.

  14. On this screen, check the box to delete the installation file. You won’t need it any more. Now click Finish.

  15. WinZip will open for the first time. You can turn off the Tip Of The Day by pulling down the drop down box and selecting Never Show Tips at Startup. When done, close WinZip.

Now that WinZip is installed, let’s shrink a file!

  1. As you can see in the image below, I took an installation program I had on my desktop and decided to send it to a ‘friend’ over email.
    So here is what you do. Find your file you want to compress. Right click on it, place your mouse over the WinZip option. A submenu will appear. Select Add To <name of file>.zip.

  2. WinZip will start up and compress the file. Once it’s done, you should see a new file appear which contains your compressed file.

You’re done! Man, that water must have been cold. Now all you have to do is open up your email program, attach the file, and send it off. Not only is it small but, man, was that fast!
You can, of course, do this with any file. I do recommend, however, that you still watch the file size. This is great for some files, but it is best to only send files smaller than 10 MB through email.
Look for my follow-up article on our next article. I’ll show you how to share your files over the Internet and next time, size won’t matter!

SOHOLogics Feedback