The need for HTTPs and SSL
As the world is becoming digital rapidly, there is an equally increased risk against personal privacy. Whenever we log into a website, we provide private information. Which should be encrypted to prevent easy access and viewing. In order to make sure that the connection is secure and data transfer is encrypted, the website should use secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and secure sockets layer (SSL).
Major search engines such as Google, prefer secure websites to show in their search results. This means that your site is at risk if it doesn’t configure properly with an SSL certificate. At the same time if your website’s URL prefix is using “HTTPS:” chances are there to show it at a higher rank.
Installing Free SSL Certificate On Your WordPress Site Using Email Verification Method
We have been getting a lot of requests on this topic since Google announced to start showing the Non-SSL website as Insecure in web browsers. With that said, SSL prices are killing especially for small business owners having a standard website. To make life easier for small business owners, Let’s Encrypt and Zero SSL are working together for providing Free SSL certificates with a validity of 90 Days. Which means you have renewed it after every 90 Days’ tenure.
There are several ways to generate an SSL certificate using ZeroSSL but the easiest one is to do it through email verification.
This tutorial will guide you step-by-step for:
- Generating Free SSL with Zero SSL.
- Installing Free SSL using the Email Verification method.
- Setting up Free SSL in your Website’s Control Panel.
Create Free SSL with Zero SSL.
1: Go to www.zerossl.com
2: For creating your free account click on the GET FREE SSL button on the top right and get yourself registered with a business or personal email.
3: Following signing up you will be directed to your Dashboard where you see multiple options showing in the interface below:
4: Let’s get to work for generating a Free SSL certificate by clicking the “New Certificate” button. This button will direct you to a new window to enter your website URL. Make sure your website URL doesn’t include any slashes (/), periods (. ,; :), and or HTTP at all otherwise it will show you an error. Simply add your domain address such as xyz.com or www.xyz.com and it will work for you.
5. Another important catch here is to never select a Wildcard as this is a type of SSL needed for extensive setup and don’t really necessary for small or medium size of Business Websites.
6: You can see above a statement is written beside a toggle that “I need a wildcard certificate”. So, this is for someone who is looking for a paid version so if you are that one so you need to enable it for your customized requirements.
7: After adding your domain and the next option shows your validity period which shows you two options; 90 Days Certificate or One-Year Certificate. One year certificate comes up with a paid subscription so click on a 90-day certificate to generate Free SSL for Your Website followed by a click on the next step.
CSR & Contact section
8: It is basically to check if you would like to enter your company’s information manually or want to leave it unattended. Both ways will work so keep it unchecked so that ZeroSSL can automatically generate CSR for your website. Click on the next step.
Finalize your order
9: This will show up some plans which are also cost-effective as compared to hosting providers in the market. Since we are going for a Free SSL; simply Select Free Plan (the very first option) and hit the next step.
Free SSL Installing using the Email Verification method.
At this point, we are all done with creating a Free SSL account and it’s time to get your website URL or web address verified. This step is to make sure you have the ownership rights for the domain you’re generating an SSL certificate. There are three methods mentioned below to get a domain verified but the easiest is the one we are doing in the preceding paras.
Domain verification through; HTTP file upload, DNS records, and Email Verification method.
1. From the next window that shows up after having done with creating an account and selecting the right plan; select the Email Verification option to proceed further. ZeroSSL mostly shows you standard email addresses such as admin@, administrator@, hostmaster@, postmaster@, and webmaster@ email accounts. But if you don’t have any of these email addresses with you, there is no need to worry about since we are providing you a complete solution for dealing with such issues. The interface of email account selection should show up like the one you can see below.
2. To deal with the above challenge for generating a Free SSL and having it configured with your website; let’s create an email account using the Control Panel of your website hosting. To create an email account, Login to your hosting account and Go to cPanel or Control Panel associated with said hosting. Once you’re in cPanel, look out for the Email and Email Accounts option as showing in the screenshot below. When you find it, click on Email Account and start creating a Free Email Account from your web hosting control panel.
Create an Email Account
3. To create a Free Email Account from your Web Hosting Control Panel, select the same domain that you’re getting verified with ZeroSSLcreating an email account, you need to select that specific domain for which you are going to create an SSL certificate. After selecting your domain now you need to enter your same username which you have selected above in the email verification section and set your password.
4. After you have finished with creating an email account for any of one admin@, administrator@, hostmaster@, postmaster@ and webmaster@, etc. Go to the Email Accounts section again and click on Check Email option. This will show you some standard email providers option and you can use any one of those three. Since you can see I have selected horde in the below screenshot. When you click on any of those three options it will take you to your email inbox.
5. Go back to the ZeroSSL and select the email address that you just created. Click the Next Step so that they can send you a verification email. Server emails mostly work slowly because of a lot of processes these have to go through so wait for some time and keep refreshing your browser unless you receive an email from Zero SSL. The received email can be seen in the screenshot below.
6. While you’re doing domain verification through email interface; the email received from ZeroSSL has a link to enter your unique generating verification code. So these two steps showing in the above screenshot will have your domain verified within seconds. Simply go to the link in the email you received which will show up an interface like below and enter the unique verification code in there.
Congratulations your domain is verified.
Free SSL Set up in your Website’s Control Panel.
Since we have now created a Free SSL account and got your domain verified; the next step will teach you to configure Free Generated SSL on your website. You might need a little bit of technical knowledge to handle stuff that we’re now going to tell you. It is always recommended to use a Tech Person doing so and you can Hire Me to do it for minimal charges but if you have knowledge about cPanel functions you can do it on your own for sure.
1. As long as you’re done with verification let’s click Install Certificate to proceed further. The default server format is Apache since mostly the server uses Apache cPanel but if your server is different then you should select according to your needs. We are moving with Apache as shown in the below screenshot and then downloading a certificate which will be in a .zip file format.
Downloading the zip file, you need to extract the file which will have a set of three files in there; CA Bundle, Certificate Key, and Private key.
Website Cpanel/Control Panel
2. Now log in to your website’s cPanel or Control Panel once again. Under the Security section, you can see SSL/TLS options in the below screenshot. Click on SSL/TLS option to generate a CRT file.
3. Generate CRT for your website using the option shown in the screenshot below.
4. The below screenshot shows you the next window where you need to scroll down all the way in the Upload Certificate section. Once there, select the CRT file in your extracted zip folder. CRT file usually placed in the middle of all three files but can differ in the name or title. Once selected, start uploading it in the CRT section so that it can generate an automated CRT for your website that was set up on ZeroSSL.
5. After uploading go back to the previous window and select Install and Manage SSL for your site HTTPS. If you have multiple websites on the same server; it will show up a list of all domains available but if there is a single domain using this hosting account; you can see your domain visible at the top. Click Install option at the end as shown in the screenshot below.
6. This option will autofill your CRT since it has been already generated through the same server and you can see your website URL under the CRT section. Mostly through auto-generated CRT; CA bundle is recognized but you just need to copy and paste Private Key within the next section showing in the screenshot below.
When you’re done with pasting CA Bundle and Private Key, click on the Install Certificate button at the very end of these options. This will show up you the popup as seen in the screenshot below which means your website is now supporting https protocols and secure with an authentic SSL certificate.
Congratulation you have successfully updated or installed a free SSL certificate using the ZeroSSL website.
Caution: Switching your website from HTTP to https is technical and you could lose all of your website data or can face an undetermined downtime. Be sure to backup your website before installing an SSL or moving your domain from HTTP to https protocols.
Hiring a professional is always preferable and if you would like to Hire Me; don’t hesitate to contact me.