SSL Checker Tool

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The security of your website is vital to the success of your Internet business. One way you can protect your data (and your customers) is through the use of encrypted communication protocols. Secure Socket Layer (or SSL) was the original method of providing for basic encryption between servers and clients. The industry mostly uses Transport Layer Security (or TLS) protocols now, but the process is basically the same, and most users refer to this kind of encryption by the old name: SSL.  As part of our Web Hosting Toolkit, Liquid Web provides and SSL Tool to help you verify that your SSL is installed correctly and up-to-date.  Below is an insight on how to use this tool and as well as some core concepts and certificates types to know when dealing with SSL.

 

SSL Certificate Checker

You’ll want to confirm that everything is functioning correctly on the server once you’ve successfully ordered and installed your SSL. At this time, you’ll want to check on your domain SSL’s to confirm expiration dates, covered subdomains, or other information. While you can use various third-party SSL checkers on the Internet, Liquid Web makes gathering this information about your domain simple. Just go to the Liquid Web Internet Webhosting Toolkit page and click on SSL Tool.

 lw-sslchecker

How Do I Check If My SSL Certificate is Valid?

Enter your domain name in the box provided and click on Submit. You can enter either your primary domain name (like mydomain.com) or any of the subdomains you may have created SSL certificates for (like blog.mydomain.com). If an SSL certificate is installed on the server for the domain, the page will display the status of the certificate and additional information.

lw sslchecker details

In this example, you can see that the certificate is valid and trusted by browsers and that the tested domain matches the certificate.

lw sslchecker valid test

You can also see which Certificate Authority issued the certificate and the dates for which the certificate is valid.

lw sslchecker certificate authority

Finally, you can see which signing algorithm was used to generate the certificate (indicating how complex and secure the certificate is) and which domains and subdomains are covered by the certificate.

lw sslchecker san details

How SSLs Work

SSL connections work through a series of tools that exist on your server and on a client’s web browser. At the simplest level, the server and a client computer exchange information and agree on a secret “handshake” that allows each computer to trust the other computer. This handshake is established through the use of private and public SSL certificate keys. The private key resides on the server, and the public key is available to a client computer. All information passed between the computers is encoded and can only be decoded if the keys match. These keys are generated by a Certificate Authority (like GlobalSign) and can vary in complexity and expiration date. These matched keys exist to prevent what are known as “man in the middle” attacks when a third-party intercepts the Internet traffic for the purpose of stealing valuable data (like passwords or credit card information). Because the third-party doesn’t possess the matching keys, they will be unable to read any of the intercepted information.

By using a trusted certificate, your website users can enter their information with full confidence that their data is safe. Certificate Authorities only grant SSL certificates to operators who can prove that they are the legitimate owner of a domain and that the domain is hosted on the server for which the certificate is being issued. This proof is usually obtained by modifying the DNS records for a domain during the verification process of the certificate ordering transaction. To learn more about how to order an SSL through your Liquid Web account, see How To Order or Renew an SSL Certificate in Manage.

 

Types of SSL Certificates

While SSL certificates all provide the same essential functions, there are several different types of certificates to choose from. You’ll want to establish which certificate meets your needs before you decide to order one for your domain. The types we’ll discuss here are Self-Signed Certificates, Standard Domain Certificates, Wildcard Certificates, Extended Validation Certificates.

Self-Signed Certificates

Most servers have the capability of generating a Self-Signed SSL certificate. These certificates provide the same kinds of encrypted communication that certificate provided by Certificate Authorities provide. However, because they are self-signed, there is no proof that the server is the “real” server associated with a website. Many control panels use self-signed certificates because the owner of the server knows the IP address of the server and can trust that they are connecting to the correct site when using that IP address. The advantage of self-signed certificates is that they are easy to generate and are free to use for as long as you want to use them.

Standard Domain Certificates

If you only need to secure a single domain or subdomain, a standard domain SSL certificate is appropriate. Standard certificates are generally the least expensive option from Certificate Authorities and are designed to cover one domain or subdomain (generally both domain.com and www.domain.com are covered by a standard certificate).

Wildcard Certificates

If you have multiple subdomains, you may be able to save time and money by getting a wildcard SSL certificate. Wildcard certificates cover a domain and all of its subdomains. For instance, if you have a domain website that also has a mail subdomain, a blog, a news site, and a staging site that you want to be protected by SSL communication, a single wildcard would protect all of the sites.

Note
A wildcard certificate will only protect one level of subdomains. So, blog.mydomain.com is covered, but new.blog.mydomain.com would not be covered.
Extended Validation Certificates

SSL certificates are generally issued to companies that can prove they have the right to use a domain name on the Internet (normally because they can modify the DNS records for that domain). While that level of verification is sufficient for most companies, you may need to have additional evidence that your company is a reliable entity for business purposes. Organizational SSL certificates require additional vetting by a Certificate Authority, including checks about the physical location of your company and your right to conduct business. Organizational SSL details can be visible on your website if you install a Secure Site Seal. Additional vetting is available for companies that choose Extended Validation SSL certificates. Extended Validation processes are often used by banks and financial institutions to provide extra reassurance to their customers that their website is legitimate. EV SSLs will turn the address bar of the client’s browser green and display the company’s name on the right side of the address bar.

If you need help determining which type of SSL is right for your business, chat with our Solutions team for additional information.

Now that you’ve checked the details of your SSL certificate and confirmed that all of the information is correct, you’ll be sure that the communications between your server and your customer’s computers are secure as that information travels over the Internet. For more information about improving the overall security of your server, see Best Practices: Protecting Your Website from Compromise.

 

What’s My IP Address?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As part of our Web Hosting Toolkit, our Liquid Web IP Checker makes it easier than ever to identify IT issues. IP addresses are the unique numbers assigned to every computer that connects to the Internet. When troubleshooting connectivity issues, checking your computer’s IP address is the first step in identifying possible network issues. Correctly identifying your public IP address allows you (and our Support technicians) to find information on the server and it’s log files to pinpoint possible issues between your computer and server.

 

Finding Your Public IP Address

As the first piece of information in the connection between your local workstation and server, your Public IP address is critical to the information gathering process. Fortunately, you don’t need to navigate complex networking configurations on your computer to find the public IP address; you need to ask an external server what IP identifies with your connection. You can do this by using Liquid Web’s Internet Web Hosting Toolkit. Go to the toolkit website and click on IP Checker. You’ll immediately be shown the public IP address that your computer is reporting.

lwtoolkit ipcheckerYou can also get additional information about how your computer is identifying itself (including location, operating system, and browser details) by clicking on the link in the extra information area. This information can help identify website compatibility issues based on various user settings.lwtoolkit ipchecker more detail

How Do I Know If My IP Is Public or Private?

Most computers that are attached to a network have both a Public and a Private IP address. The IP address assigned to your computer by your router or wireless modem is generally a Private IP and typically is in one of two “reserved” ranges: either 10.x.x.x or 192.x.x.x. These Private IP ranges allow all of the devices in your local network to communicate with each other. When connecting with devices outside of your local network, your router will provide a Public IP address to outgoing traffic (often all of the devices inside your network will “share” the same Public IP address). The Public IP address allows computers across the Internet to identify each other and communicate effectively. To troubleshoot networking issues, we’ll need to find the Public IP address that your computer is broadcasting to the Internet. With the Public IP you can search through the firewall and server logs to find connection attempts and identify possible issues that may be preventing access.

 

How Do I Know If MY IP Address Is Blocked?

Most servers have software that works to detect and prevent possible malicious activity. Sometimes this software is part of the firewall or another application, but the result is the same: computers that fail to satisfy this software will be blocked from accessing the server. These blocks can occur due to repeated failed login attempts or even by opening too many connections at the same time (this often happens when transferring a large amount of data via FTP).

Security software typically blocks IPs by an escalating scale. That is, an offending IP address will be blocked for a short amount of time on the first offense, but the blocks will increase in length as the behavior continues until the IP address is permanently barred. An incorrect password saved in an FTP client can result in a permanent block in a short amount of time. If you suspect your server is blocking your IP, you may be able to remove the block automatically. For more information on unblocking your IP, see Unblocking Your IP Address.

Now that you’ve got your Public IP address, you can check your server logs for failed connection attempts or other errors that may indicate why you are having trouble connecting. Or you can share that information with one of Liquid Web’s Most Helpful Humans in Hosting and they can help resolve whatever connectivity issues you are experiencing.

To learn more about the tools Liquidweb offers, submit a ticket with us via our support@liquidweb.com email, give us a call at 800-580-4985 or, open a chat with us to speak to one of our skilled Level 3 Support Admins today!

How Do I Use Liquid Web’s Hosting Toolkit?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If there is one truth in the world of web hosting, it is that we always need more information. Information about configurations, servers, connections, delivery speeds and networking is essential in troubleshooting and optimizing our web presence. While this kind of information can be gathered from various providers and sites across the Internet, Liquid Web has developed a one stop shop toolkit to gather some of the most vital troubleshooting tools in one convenient interface designed to make your life easier.

The Liquid Web Internet Webhosting Toolkit provides you with the data you need to verify connectivity, identify DNS issues, and test web page performance. We’ll continue to develop and share new tools that will make your job easier; it’s one of the ways that we are working to be the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting. Continue reading “How Do I Use Liquid Web’s Hosting Toolkit?”

Troubleshooting: MySQL/MariaDB Error #1044 & #1045 Access Denied for User

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When using phpMyAdmin, it’s essential to have the correct user permissions to create edits/writes to the database.  Otherwise insufficent permissions can lead to  errors like the ones pictured below “#1044 – Access denied for user …[using password: YES]” and “#1045 – Access denied for user…[using password: YES]”.  In our tutorial, we’ll show you how to correct this issue using the command line terminal.  Let’s get started! Continue reading “Troubleshooting: MySQL/MariaDB Error #1044 & #1045 Access Denied for User”

How to Redirect URLs Using Nginx

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What is a Redirect?

A redirect is a web server function that will redirect traffic from one URL to another. Redirects are an important feature when the need arises. There are several different types of redirects, but the more common forms are temporary and permanent. In this article, we will provide some examples of redirecting through the vhost file, forcing a secure HTTPS connection, redirection to www and non-www as well as the difference between temporary and permanent redirects.

Note
As this is an Nginx server, any .htaccess rules will not apply. If your using the other popular web server, Apache, you’ll find this article useful.

Common Methods for Redirects

Temporary redirects (response code: 302 Found) are helpful if a URL is temporarily being served from a different location. For example, these are helpful when performing maintenance and can redirect users to a maintenance page.

However, permanent redirects (response code: 301 Moved Permanently) inform the browser there was an old URL that it should forget and not attempt to access anymore. These are helpful when content has moved from one place to another.

 

How to Redirect

When it comes to Nginx, that is handled within a .conf file, typically found in the document root directory of your site(s), /etc/nginx/sites-available/directory_name.conf. The document root directory is where your site’s files live and it can sometimes be in the /html if you have one site on the server. Or if your server has multiple sites it can be at /domain.com.  Either way that will be your .conf file name. In the /etc/nginx/sites-available/ directory you’ll find the default file that you can copy or use to append your redirects. Or you can create a new file name html.conf or domain.com.conf.

Note
If you choose to create a new file be sure to update your symbolic links in the /etc/nginx/sites-enabled. With the command:

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/domain.com.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/domain.com.conf

The first example we’ll cover is redirection of a specific page/directory to the new page/directory.

Temporary Page to Page Redirect

server {
# Temporary redirect to an individual page
rewrite ^/oldpage$ http://www.domain.com/newpage redirect;
}

Permanent Page to Page Redirect

server {
# Permanent redirect to an individual page
rewrite ^/oldpage$ http://www.domain.com/newpage permanent;
}

Permanent www to non-www Redirect

server {
# Permanent redirect to non-www
server_name www.domain.com;
rewrite ^/(.*)$ http://domain.com/$1 permanent;
}

Permanent Redirect to www

server {
# Permanent redirect to www
server_name domain.com;
rewrite ^/(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 permanent;
}

Sometimes the need will arise to change the domain name for a website. In this case, a redirect from the old sites URL to the new sites URL will be very helpful in letting users know the domain was moved to a new URL.

The next example we’ll cover is redirecting an old URL to a new URL.

Permanent Redirect to New URL

server {
# Permanent redirect to new URL
server_name olddomain.com;
rewrite ^/(.*)$ http://newdomain.com/$1 permanent;
}

We’ve added the redirect using the rewrite directive we discussed earlier. The ^/(.*)$ regular expression will use everything after the / in the URL. For example, http://olddomain.com/index.html will redirect to http://newdomain.com/index.html. To achieve the permanent redirect, we add permanent after the rewrite directive as you can see in the example code.

When it comes to HTTPS and being fully secure it is ideal for forcing everyone to use https:// instead of http://.

Redirect to HTTPS

server {
# Redirect to HTTPS
listen      80;
server_name domain.com www.domain.com;
return      301 https://example.com$request_uri;
}

After these rewrite rules are in place, testing the configuration prior to running a restart is recommended. Nginx syntax can be checked with the -t flag to ensure there is not a typo present in the file.

Nginx Syntax Check

nginx -t

If nothing is returned the syntax is correct and Nginx has to be reloaded for the redirects to take effect.

Restarting Nginx

service nginx reload

For CentOS 7 which unlike CentOS 6, uses systemd:

systemctl restart nginx

Redirects on Managed WordPress/WooCommerce

If you are on our Managed WordPress/WooCommerce products, redirects can happen through the /home/s#/nginx/redirects.conf file. Each site will have their own s# which is the FTP/SSH user per site. The plugin called ‘Redirection’ can be downloaded to help with a simple page to page redirect, otherwise the redirects.conf file can be utilized in adding more specific redirects as well using the examples explained above.

Due to the nature of a managed platform after you have the rules in place within the redirects.conf file, please reach out to support and ask for Nginx to be reloaded. If you are uncomfortable with performing the outlined steps above, contact our support team via chat, ticket or a phone call.  With Managed WordPress/WooCommerce you get 24/7 support available and ready to help you!

How to Use Let’s Encrypt with Cloudflare

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lets encrypt logo

Cloudflare is an excellent and well-known content delivery network. A CDN can increase site speed by utilizing Cloudflare’s global caching network to deliver content closer to a visitor’s location.

You can also easily attach Cloudflare as an add-on product to your existing Liquid Web server, but there are some configurations to consider.

cloudflare logo

Continue reading “How to Use Let’s Encrypt with Cloudflare”

How to Check Server Load on a Windows Server

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What Does Server Load Mean?

Checking a server’s load allows us to evaluate server resources and confirm they are sufficient for any running application. It enables us to troubleshoot slow performance and reliably pinpoint any server resource that may need attention.

While there are many tools and options available, today let’s focus on Windows Task Manager as a way to help us quickly see what is going on, and interact with applications, processes, and services to identify the load. This article will also include an introduction to Resource Monitor as it can be opened from Task Manager to provide more detail.

Continue reading “How to Check Server Load on a Windows Server”

Troubleshooting: Locked Out of RDP

Reading Time: 3 minutes

How Do I Get Back Into RDP?

You may be working from a local machine that has an IP that is not scoped on that RDP port, making it impossible for you to gain remote access to add the IP address to the RDP rule’s scope. Do not fret; there is a simple and quick way to add your IP to the RDP scoping (or any others entities such as MySQL or MSSQL) right through your Plesk interface in your local browser. You can watch this video, or scroll down for step-by-step directions.

For security purposes, it is always recommended that you scope off your Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connection on your server. Putting a scope on the RDP rule in the Windows Firewall will allow only the indicated  IP addresses to gain access to the server through Remote Desktop Protocol. The issue is that many of us do not have static IP addresses, but rather Dynamic IP addresses. This means that while at one time our IP address may be 120.32.111.01, it may change to something like 95.42.121.01 later. So if you were to add 120.32.111.01 to the RDP firewall for a customer or a system administrator, then you may need to add another rule for a different IP address.

 

Adding Your IP in Plesk

Step 1: Log in to Plesk

First, we need to make sure we know how to get to that Plesk login page. By default, the Plesk login page is https://<YourServerIP>:8443. For example https://124.0.0.1:8443

We should arrive on a page with this in the center. Go ahead and type in Admin for the username and your password for Plesk. Usually, that password is set up by our team and is the default Server Administrator Password. Sometimes the username is Administrator, depending on a few variables. But one of the two user names should be fine.

Plesk login

Step 2: Tools & Settings

The first thing we need to do after we log into Plesk through the previous page is to navigate to the Firewall Rules. Go ahead and click on Tools & Settings. It will be located in the right sidebar near the bottom as shown below.

plesk tools and settings

Step 3: Firewall

Once we pull up Tools & Settings go ahead and click on our destination, Firewall. You will find that option under the Security section. It will be the second option, just under Security Policy.

firewall tools and settings

Step 4: Firewall Rules

After we are in the Firewall management, go ahead and click on Firewall Rules. This is where we will add the rule to allow a certain IP address to gain RDP access.

firewall management

Step 5: Add a Firewall Rule

Under Tools, after going into the Firewall Rules, we will see the option labeled Add Firewall Rule. Go ahead and click on that, bringing us to our next step.

firewall add rule

Step 6: Add Detail the the New Rule

This is the page that we see after clicking on Add Firewall Rule. It can seem to be complicated and intimidating for some beginner level System Administrators, but it is quite simple.

add a new firewall rule

firewall profiles

If you or your client are not sure what that IP address that needs RDP access is, Liquid Web has a great site to visit that will only display your IP address here.

Note:

Here is an example of what you will find at https://ip.liquidweb.com.

While this particular example IP will not be the one that the customer or the System Administrator will see, (when visited on the local machine) the page will display the IP address that needs to be added to the rule for this RDP session to connect. That will be the only information that will be displayed on this page. Simply copy that IP address and use it in the instructions below.
ip address

remote ip address

Once you enter the IP address into the text box under Remote addresses, you do need to click the ADD button before clicking on OK.

remote ip address example

As mentioned above, after clicking the ADD button while the IP address is entered into the Add an IP address or a network text box, it will be placed into the left text box. After that step, you will then be able to click OK to apply this rule to the firewall for the server.

Step 7: Connect to RDP

The individual at that IP address can now access the server via RDP. If you would like more information on how to use Remote Desktop Connection, you can find a help article explaining exactly how to do that here.

rdp connection login screen

Congratulations! You now know how to add an IP address to an RDP rule that will allow a user to connect if the RDP is scoped off to the public. This can be done many times. Although Plesk does not allow you to edit the rule, you will have to create a new one each time. But this shouldn’t cause any issues. Also, keep in mind that this method can be used for any port, including MySQL and MSSQL.

If you ever have any trouble with your Liquid Web server, feel free to contact us through our chats system, by submitting a ticket, or by calling 800-580-4985. We’d love to help!

Install SSL Certificates in a Windows Server

Reading Time: 4 minutes

About SSL

SSL Certificates secure the web today using Transport Layer Security (TLS). This is a network protocol which encrypts the data between the web server and the visitor. Most websites today are using SSL, and you can see this every time a website starts with https:// instead of http://. This indicates the website is securely encrypting data between you and the server so that no attackers can easily sniff the network packets and capture your logins.

SSL protects the web today and is utilized by almost every corporation and business and acts first step in user security. SSL is a way to protect logins and forms that you enter from being intercepted unknowingly by a 3rd party on your network.  If your website does not incorporate SSL, we suggest implementing it as soon as possible, and you can use our guide to do it!

 

Generating the Certificate Request (CSR)

Before ordering your SSL, you will need to create a certificate request for the certificate authority to issue an SSL.

Step 1: To begin, the first thing you need to do is open IIS. If you do not have a shortcut for it, you can search your computer for inetmgr.exe and open it that way. From here you will click on your server name:

open iis

Step 2: Then double-click “Server Certificates“.

create server certificateStep 3: Once you have done that, you are ready to create your certificate request.

On the right-hand side, select ‘Create Certificate Request

Create Certificate Request

At this point, you will be asked for information about the certificate and the company requesting the certificate.

information about the SSL certificate

Once you have filled this out, click Next.

It will bring you to the following screen:

cryptographic server provider properties

Step 4: We suggest using the settings above, making sure the Bit Length is set to 2048 or higher. We like to go with 4096 and click Next.  On the subsequent screen, you need to specify a filename where your Certificate Request or CSR can be exported. For simplicity, we would like to export the CSR to C:\example.com.csr.txt

 

Ordering the SSL

At this point, you are ready to order your SSL certificate!

Step 1: Go ahead and go to your chosen SSL provider, whether it be GlobalSign, Liquid Web, or any numerous other certificate authorities.

Step 2: When you are signing up for the SSL, it will ask you for the CSR data we saved at C:\example.com.csr.txt – Copy and paste the contents into the certificate authorities website and it will generate all the same fields we entered in the previous steps.

Step 3: Finish your order, and they will provide you with a .crt certificate file. Download this file and copy it to your web server. For simplicity, copy it to C:\example.com.cer

Great! Now you have created a certificate request and completed it with the certificate authority and have your new SSL certificate ready to be installed.

 

Installing the Certificate in IIS

Step 1: Open up IIS/inetmgr.exe and navigate to the server as we did in the beginning.

Step 2: Navigate to Server Certificates. Now, instead of selecting ‘Create Certificate Request’ you will select ‘Complete Certificate Request

Step 3: It will prompt you for the location of the new certificate, which we saved at C:\example.com.cer and to make things easier on ourselves later, we will name the friendly name example.com-01 so that we know this is the first SSL for this domain in case we want to renew it later.  Once you hit OK, you should see your certificate in the list of server certificates in IIS.

Great! Now you have generated the certificate request, completed it, and installed your certificate on your web server. Now you need to bind the certificate to your website.

 

Binding the SSL Certificate to a Website

Step 1: In IIS, browse to Sites > example.com (where you want the SSL certificate installed).

Step 2: Right-click on your site and select ‘Edit Bindings‘ or if you click on the site, you will see Bindings on the right-hand side.

This will open a window that looks like the following:

site binding for the ssl

Step 3: If you already have the https binding setup for your site, you will simply double-click on the https bindings and select the desired SSL certificate from the drop-down. If you haven’t created an https entry in your bindings already, click Add. On the right-hand side and you will see the following window:

add SSL site bindings

Step 4: First, set the Type to https so your website knows the request is for a secured URL.

You will want to set the IP Address as needed based on your host. In my case, All Unassigned.
Port should be automatically set to 443, if not, do so. (This is the port defined for secured communications.)

Step 5: Set the Host Name to example.com (your domain). In most cases, you will want to check Require Server Name Indication. In our case, we do not need it because this is the only certificate on this IP address. Select your SSL certificate from the drop-down!

Select OK and do it all again, this time instead of setting the hostname to example.com, you will want to set it to www.example.com. This is because we only set it up for requests from https://example.com, but https://www.example won’t register as secured until we add the second binding entry.

Note:
If you are setting up a wildcard SSL, you will want to add a third entry for *.example.com so that it can secure any subdomain of your website.

Testing Your New SSL

First, you will want to access your domain at https://example.com and https://www.example.com to see if there are any errors. An easy way to tell if the certificate is functioning properly is to input your domain into SSL Shopper. Try it with and without the “www” to confirm both work. If everything is working, you should see several green checks and no errors. The certificate expiration date will be at least one year from the day you ordered the SSL originally.

That’s it! You have successfully installed a brand new SSL for your website that works both with www and without it. Congratulations! Now you can follow these steps to secure all of your websites and applications.

Liquid Web makes it easy to purchase new SSLs. Simply log in to manage.liquidweb.com, clicking Add, and select SSL Certificate.  Here you can simply input the CSR you generated in Step 1, and it will order an SSL and give you back the certificate file needed to complete the installation.

If you have a Core-Managed Windows server at Liquid Web, we can help you through this process and diagnose any issues you may have run into. We also assist with SSL on Self-Managed if they buy the SSL from Liquid Web.