Secure Your Self Hosted WordPress

Self hosting WordPress rocks. Unsecured websites do not rock. It does not matter how long or complicated your password is if it is being transmitted in plain text over HTTP.

Luckily, it is easy to create a Self Signed certificate and use it on your website. Keep in mind that browsers become very unhappy with Self Signed Certificates and tend to yell at the user. So, if you have a lot of traffic and want your users to feel safe purchase an SSL certificate from a real Certificate Authority. In any case, at the very least you should be using a self signed SSL for all of the admin portions of your site.

Here’s how to do it on Debian 7.5 running a standard LAMP stack.

  1. Create your self signed Certificate by running the following commands sequentially.
mkdir /etc/apache2/ssl

openssl req -new -x509 -days 365 -nodes -out /etc/apache2/ssl/wp.pem -keyout /etc/apache2/ssl/wp.key

2.  Create a Virtual Host for your website in /etc/apache2/conf.d/yoursite.conf

<VirtualHost 1.2.3.4:443>
SSLEngine on
SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/wp.pem
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/wp.key
DocumentRoot /srv/www/yoursite.com/public_html
<Directory *>
AllowOverride All
order allow,deny
Allow from all 
</Directory>
</VirtualHost>
  • Change yoursite.conf to something more meaningful
  • Change 1.2.3.4 to the IP of your server, which you can obtain by running ifconfig in a terminal
  • Change the document root to your actual document root.

3.  Enable the SSL module in Apache

sudo a2enmod ssl

4.  Restart apache

sudo service apache2 restart

All set! Now, you can navigate to https://yourwebsite.com, confirm the security exception, and administer and view your WordPress site securely.

If you made it this far, you should probably follow me on twitter. 🙂

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