This week’s one hour challenge involved getting a free SSL certificate for my personal website.

Why SSL?

First, to be honest, I wanted one of those little green locks with the word “Secure” next to my url. I felt like this would legitimize my website and make visitors feel more comfortable browsing. Second, I beginning to expand my site to include blogs (like One Hour Challenge), presentation slides, static resources, etc. I am also planning on refactoring with React.

Getting an SSL Certificate felt like a good first step in this journey. After finding the right tool for the job (Cloudflare - it was recommended by a friend; I floundered for a few days before connecting with this friend), the set up was quick and easy.

Here is my little green lock. Isn’t it beautiful?! SSL Screenshot

Technology:

How to get set up:

  1. Create a free account with Cloudflare
  2. Add a site to your Cloudflare account by entering the domain url
  3. Log into domain registrar, select the domain.
  4. Navigate to the DNS information to modify NS Record
  5. Change the two “Points To:” records from ns1.nameserver.com (or ns2.nameserver.com or something of this nature) to the nameservers listed on your Cloudflare account (To find the NS values, go to your website’s details page on Cloudflare, select DNS and scroll down to “Cloudflare Nameservers” heading. They will be listed here).
  6. Update the nameservers on the Nameservers settings (next to “DNS”) with your Cloudflare NS values as well.
  7. That’s it!

It may take up to 24 hours for your SSL certificate to be generated. Mine took only about an hour… and then voila, it was done!

As I mentioned above, the process was super easy. The only

  Barrier To Entry++

was figuring out where to change the NS settings on mydomain.com (the UI is not very intuitive). I needed to change the nameservers in two places. It took me a few tries of tinkering with the setup to get this working.

More background information on SSL and security if you’re interested:

HTTPS - Wikipedia

Why HTTPS - Google Developers

Food for thought:

  • Is an SSL certificate enough? It was easy to get the certificate so what’s to stop scammers from doing the same, making visitors feel secure on fraudulent sites by displaying that little green lock all the while stealing CC numbers or personal information?
  • What are security best practices for a more robust application (say a full stack app, db, hashed passwords, etc) as opposed to a simple frontend site?
  • Unrelated… but I noticed my site redirects from www.jenniferwiner.com to jenniferwiner.com. It drops the www. Why is this? Will visitors notice this? Will it cause any security concerns?