Many years ago I wrote a series of instructions that used dozens of screenshots in order to show my coworkers how to set up and enable Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) communications in IIS 5, which I eventually turned into a blog series on one of my personal blog sites. A few years later I wrote a sequel to that series of instructions for my coworkers, and I wanted to turn that into a series of walkthroughs in the IIS.net website. Sometime ago I proposed the idea to Pete Harris, who was in charge of IIS.net at the time, but then I changed jobs and we scrapped the idea. We followed up on the idea a short time ago, but we just couldn't find a place where it made sense to host it on IIS.net, so Pete suggested that I turn it into another blog series. With that in mind, over a series of several blog entries I will show how to configure SSL on IIS 6.

Note: This first post will leverage a lot of the content from the overview that I wrote for my IIS 5 blog series, but subsequent posts will reflect the changes in IIS 6.

Much like IIS 5, setting up SSL on IIS 6 is pretty simple. SSL is a Public Key/Private Key technology, and setting up SSL is essentially obtaining a Public Key from a trusted organization. The basic process for working with SSL is reduced to the following actions:

  1. Creating a Certificate Request
  2. Obtaining a Certificate from a Certificate Authority
  3. Installing the Certificate

While not necessary, installing certificate services on your computer is helpful when troubleshooting SSL issues, and I'll discuss that later in this blog series.

Creating a Certificate Request

This is a series of steps that need to be performed on the web server, and they differ widely depending on the server and version. A web administrator is required to enter information about their organization, their locality, etc. This information will be used to validate the requester.

Obtaining a Certificate from a Certificate Authority

This is when a web administrator submits their request for a certificate to a Certificate Authority (CA), which is a trusted organization like VeriSign or Thawte. For a list of trusted organizations, see the following section in Internet Explorer.

You can choose to trust a new CA by obtaining the Root Certificate from the CA. (I'll post an Obtaining a Root Certificate blog with more information later.)

Installing the Certificate

After a request has been processed by a CA, the web administrator needs to install the certificate on the web server. Once again, this series of steps needs to be performed on the web server, and the steps differ depending on the web server and version.

For the Future...

In future blogs I'll go through the steps for creating certificate requests, obtaining certificates from a CA, and installing certificates. Following that, I'll discuss setting up a CA for testing SSL in your environment.