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   Using Client Side SSL Certificate Authentication on the WebMux

WebMux supports client side SSL verification. This is different from regular SSL termination by also installing private SSL certificates on each client computer browser.  When that browser visits the web site behind WebMux, WebMux will ask the client computer to send its public key. Based on its configuration, WebMux can reject any visitor not having valid private SSL certificate issued by the system administrator, or allow that visitor go forward to the server alone with additional MIME tag to identify who the visitor is based on the information from within the private SSL certificate installed on the browsers.


WebMux’s client side SSL verification uses a privately generated SSL root and each SSL certificate is privately signed by that root. This has advantage allowing system administrator generating new root and SSL certificates easily. Since no third party involved in signing those SSL certificate, its security is higher than those signed by the public signing agencies without any additional cost.


This article discuss how to make the SSL root, how to generate the SSL certificate and install it in the client side computer, and how to configure the WebMux to enable the client side SSL verification.


1.       Create the Certificate Authority using OpenSSL.  This step will produce ca.key and ca.crt which will be used for future steps. If you have different sites and want to use different private root and certificate, please use different name for their output, for example, ca1.key for first site and ca2.key for second site, also the ca.csr and ca.crt all need to follow the same naming convention to identify them.


a.       Generate a private key:

openssl genrsa -out ca.key 1024

b.      Generate a certificate request:

openssl req -new -key ca.key -out ca.csr

Fill in all the proper fields.

c.       Self-sign the certificate request:

openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in ca.csr -signkey ca.key -out ca.crt



2.       Import the CA root certificate into the Webmux. This step will add the private SSL root into WebMux.  Please note this root and key are different from the private key and SSL certificate for the SSL termination, even they are used in the same SSL key slot in WebMux.  The SSL certificate signed by outside CA are for SSL termination. The private SSL root here is for verifying visiting clients.








a.       Click on the SSL Keys button to go to the SSL Management page:


b.      Select an unused key slot (key 3, for example):


c.       Open the ca.crt file created in step 1 as a text file.

d.      Copy and paste the text in to the CA certificate text box.  Be sure to select “use new CA certificate pasted in and add the line “CAFILE level 2” on the very top.


e.      Click the confirm button.


3.       Create a private key and generate a certificate request.  This step will generate the outside CA signed SSL CSR.  If your site is, this certificate is for visitor browser can visit your site securly at


a.       Using OpenSSL:

                                                               i.      Create the private key:

openssl genrsa -out webmux.key 1024

                                                             ii.      Open the “webmux.key” file and copy and paste into the private key text box of the key slot you imported the CA certificate.  Be sure to select “use new private key pasted in”.


                                                            iii.      Generate a certificate request:

openssl req -new -key webmux.key -out webmux.csr

Fill in the appropriate fields.

                                                           iv.      Your certificate request is saved in the file “webmux.csr”  Please send this CSR to the outside CA for signed with their CA root.  Because all major CA has their root already build-in popular browser, signed by those outside CA would avoid the warning message from browsers.  If your CSR is signed by outside CA, you can skip step 4 and continue on step 5. If you plan to totally use privately signed SSL certificates, then you continue to step 4.


4.       Self-sign the certificate request and import the certificate into the WebMux.

a.       Use openssl to sign the certificate request with the CA using the ca.key and ca.crt created in step 1:

openssl x509 -req -days 365 -CA ca.crt -CAkey ca.key \

-CAcreateserial-in webmux.csr -out webmux.crt

b.      Open “webmux.crt” as a text file and copy and paste into the certificate text box:


c.       Click the “Confirm” button.

Now your WebMux is ready for SSL termination as well as client side SSL verification. From next step, you will generate the SSL certificate for each client computer.


5.       Generate the client key and certificate request.  From this step on, you will generate the SSL certificate that users installing into their computer. Each client SSL certificate should be different, with user name and unit name different for WebMux and your own server apps to identify the visitors.  If you have 200 employees, you may use combination of their name and user ID as the file name to identify the key, csr, and certificate.  For exmaple, mike5312.key, mike5312.csr and mike5312.crt to identify Mike at extension 5313.

a.       Generate the client key using OpenSSL:

openssl genrsa -out client.key 1024

b.      Generate the client certificate request:

openssl req -new -key client.key -out client.csr

Please make sure to have unique information in each field when generting CSR, so that WebMux can identify the visitor and pass that inforamtion to your server apps.


6.       Sign the certificate request:

openssl x509 -req -days 365 -CA ca.crt -CAkey ca.key -CAcreateserial \

-in client.csr -out client.crt

Here ca.crt is from step one of this document. That is the private root of the SSL client verification.


7.       Convert client certificate to PKCS#12 format:

a.       Using the client.key created in step 5a and the client.crt created in step 6:

openssl pkcs12 -export -clcerts -in client.crt -inkey client.key \

-out client.p12

8.       Import the Client Certificate.

a.       For Firefox:

                                                               i.      Go back to the Certificate Manager and click on the “Your Certificates” tab.  Click on “Import”:



                                                             ii.      Select the “client.p12” file created in step 7:


                                                            iii.      Click the “OK” button.

b.      For Internet Explorer:

                                                               i.      Go to the Tools menu and select Internet Options.

                                                             ii.      Click on the Content Tab, then click on the Certificates button:



                                                            iii.      In the Certificates windows, click on the Personal tab:


                                                           iv.      Click on the Import button.  You will see this screen.  Click the Next button:


                                                             v.      Click the Browse button:


                                                           vi.      Be sure to select the Personal Information Exchange (p12) format:


                                                          vii.      Enter the password you created at 7a:


                                                        viii.      Click the Next button:


                                                           ix.      Click the Finish button:


                                                             x.      The Certificate has been imported:


9.       To enable client side certificate authentication on the WebMux:

a.       Create a farm with SSL termination using the key slot that has the CA certificate imported. 

b.      Select “tag SSL-terminated HTTP requests”.


10.   Select client side SSL verification level:

a.       In step 2 above, we have comment “CAFILE level 2”, you can change it to 0, 1, or 2. With level 0, the client side checking is disabled. With level 1, the client is checked. However, if client failed, WebMux will still allow the client connecting to the server with a MIME header tag to notify the server such checking failed for the client. For level 2, client failed SSL verification will be dropped by WebMux.

b.      For level 1 or 2, WebMux will pass a MIME tag "X-WebMux-SSL-Client" with all the contens of the client certificate. If the client does not have valid client side SSL certificate, WebMux will pass "X-WebMux-SSL-Client= NO CLIENT CERTIFICATE" to the server.

c.       Server app can based on this MIME tag to determine how its app handle this client: direct to the real app, send to a register screen, provide a warning page, or send it to a fake site.

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