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Key and CSR Generation Instructions

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SSL Certificates

Key and CSR Generation Instructions

Before You Start

Before you can begin the process of obtaining a Certificate, you must generate a Private Key and CSR pair off the web server. A CSR is basically a Public Key that you generate on your server that validates the computer-specific information about your web server and Organization when you request a Certificate from thawte. Digital ID's make use of a technology called Public Key Cryptography, which uses Public and Private Key files.

The Public Key, also known as a Certificate Signing Request (CSR), is the key that will be sent to thawte. The Private Key will remain on the server and should never be released into the public. thawte does not have access to your Private Key. It is generated locally on your server and is never transmitted to thawte. The integrity of your Digital ID depends on your private key being controlled exclusively by you.

A CSR cannot be generated without generating a Private Key file nor can the Private Key file be generated without generating a CSR file. In certain web server software platforms like Microsoft IIS, both are generated simultaneously through the Wizard on the web server. Typically, you will be prompted to enter the following information about your Organization in order to generate the Private Key and CSR pair off the web server:

    Organization Name (e.g. My Company)

    Organizational unit  (e.g. My Department)

    Country Code           (e.g. ZA)

    State or Province     (e.g. Western Province)

    Locality                      (e.g. Cape Town

    Common Name      (e.g. www.domain.com)

Important Note: Before you can begin the process of obtaining a Certificate, you must generate a Private Key and CSR pair off the web server here. The term "common name" is X.509 speak for the name that distinguishes the Certificate best, and ties it to your Organization. In the case of SSL Web Server Certificates, enter your exact host and domain name that you wish to secure. This may also be the root server or intranet name for your Organization.

Note: In the interest of better security and the enablement of greater trust, we have decided that 1024-bit keys will now be the minimum suggested strength to be used in the issuance of thawte digital certificates.

Example:  If you wish to secure www.mydomain.com, then you will need to enter the exact host (www) and domain name in this field. If you enter mydomain.com then the Certificate issued to you will only work error free on that exact domain name. It will cause an error when you or your users access the domain name as www.mydomain.com.

The term "common name" is X.509 speak for the name that distinguishes the Certificate best, and ties it to your Organization. In the case of SSL Web Server Certificates, enter your exact host and domain name that you wish to secure. This may also be the root server or intranet name for your Organization.

Note about Certificate Renewals: Usually, before you can renew a Certificate, a new Key/CSR pair will have to be generated off the server, the Key must then be backed up and then the newly created CSR has to be submitted through the renewal process. But, when renewing a Certificate requested for any of the Server Software Platforms listed in the thawte knowledge base solution below, you will not need to submit a new or renewal CSR in order to get your renewal Certificate. It will use your old CSR for your renewal Certificate. This means that the renewal Certificate, once issued, will only work on the Private Key file that was originally used to create the CSR, which was originally submitted to thawte.

To view the list which contains Server Software Platforms which have re-signable CSR's through the thawte Renewal System, please refer to KB solution:SO157

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