Azure App Service for Linux is a pretty neat offering from Azure. You get all of the DevOps features you want (A/B Testing, Hosted Application, Tiered Support, Button-click scaling, lots of templates and more!) without the headache of managing VM’s.

9 years ago, I wrote a quacky little website called “Duckiehunt“. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay the tech debt and things kept breaking until it was abandoned. I’m now using Duckiehunt as a learning ground for Azure’s services and alternatives.

Azure App Service for Linux was the perfect fit. However, back in 2008 SSL wasn’t as ubiquitous. Now, it’s a badge of shame to NOT have it. Azure does offer an App Service Certificate, but I’d like to find a cheaper/more open solution.

Enter Let’sEncrypt from Mozilla and the EFF. If you don’t know, EFF are the unsung heroes of the internet. They fight tirelessly to support your freedom and rights on the internet. Mozilla and EFF offer Let’sEncrypt as a free way to encrypt websites via CertBot. Now I’ll dig into the technical details behind encrypting an App Service for Linux with Let’sEncrypt.

Step #1: Get CertBot
Because I’m on OSX, I was able to run: brew install certbot. For the full range of options, CertBot’s webpage has what you need.

Step #2: Create Cert locally

Before CertBot can create the certificate for you, it must first validate you own the domain. It will prompt you for a few questions, and then ask you to create a file on the webhost and add content to that file for validation.

Thankfully, Azure App Service for Linux provides a terminal access to your container so you can make these modifications yourself.

➜ sudo certbot certonly -d duckiehunt.com –manual

Create a file containing just this data:

%RANDOM STRING 1%

And make it available on your web server at this URL:

http://duckiehunt.com/.well-known/acme-challenge/%RANDOM STRING 2%

——————————————————————————-
Press Enter to Continue

Step #3: Add the validation file to you website

I then went to the Kudu instance of my App Service and ran:

➜ mkdir /var/www/html/.well-known/acme-challenge/
➜ echo “%RANDOM STRING 2%” > %RANDOM STRING 1%

At this point, the validation is in place and it’s time to continue with Chatbot by pressing “Enter”.

Waiting for verification…
Cleaning up challenges

IMPORTANT NOTES:
– Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
/etc/letsencrypt/live/duckiehunt.com/fullchain.pem
Your key file has been saved at:
/etc/letsencrypt/live/duckiehunt.com/privkey.pem
Your cert will expire on 2017-11-12. To obtain a new or tweaked
version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot
again. To non-interactively renew *all* of your certificates, run
“certbot renew”
– If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by:

Donating to ISRG / Let’s Encrypt: https://letsencrypt.org/donate
Donating to EFF: https://eff.org/donate-le

Huzzah! I’ve now got a certificate. Time to upload.

Step #4: Upload the certificate to Azure
Azure has a pretty descriptive set of steps for associating a certificate to your App Service, which I was able to follow.

Openssl will ask for a Password which you need to keep as you upload the cert to Azure.

➜ cd /etc/letsencrypt/live/duckiehunt.com
➜ openssl pkcs12 -export -out myserver.pfx -inkey privkey.pem -in fullchain.pem
Enter Export Password:
Verifying – Enter Export Password:
➜ cp myserver.pfx ~/Desktop

Step #5: Bind the certificate to your App Service

From here on you’re ready to Bind your SSL Certificate to your App Service. I’ll let Microsoft’s documentation lead the way from here.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service-web/app-service-web-tutorial-custom-ssl#bind-your-ssl-certificate
Step #6: Bask in doing your part to secure the internet.

In summary, the process was pretty painless.

  • I used Let’sEncrypt to create a new Certificate for my App Service for Linux by creating a file that Let’sEncrypt could use to validate I owned the site.
  • I then encrypted that certificate to upload to Azure.
  • Once it was uploaded, I bound that certificate to my domain and voila! A more secure Duckiehunt

One bummer is that the certificate is intended to expire in 3 months instead of the industry standard of 12 months. The renewal process looks pretty easy, but that’s a different blog post.

–Tommy feels that he’s done his part in making the world a bit safer.