Creating a Self-Signed SSL Certificate

Last Updated: 12 March 2015


Table of Contents

When using the SSL Endpoint feature for non-production applications, you can avoid the costs associated with the SSL certificate by using a self-signed SSL certificate. Though the certificate implements full encryption, visitors to your site will see a browser warning indicating that the certificate should not be trusted.

For apps with controlled distribution this warning can be avoided by creating your own authority certificate and adding it to your users' browsers.

Certificate not trusted warning

You can proceed past this warning to view the encrypted site.


The openssl library is required to generate your own certificate. Run the following command in your local environment to see if you already have openssl installed installed.

$ which openssl

If the which command does not return a path then you will need to install openssl yourself:

If you have… Install with…
Mac OS X Homebrew: brew install openssl
Windows Windows complete package .exe installer
Ubuntu Linux apt-get install openssl

Generate private key and certificate signing request

A private key and certificate signing request are required to create an SSL certificate. These can be generated with a few simple commands. When the openssl req command asks for a “challenge password”, just press return, leaving the password empty.

More detailed instructions can be found in Creating an SSL Certificate Signing Request.

$ openssl genrsa -des3 -passout pass:x -out server.pass.key 2048
$ openssl rsa -passin pass:x -in server.pass.key -out server.key
writing RSA key
$ rm server.pass.key
$ openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr
Country Name (2 letter code) [AU]:US
State or Province Name (full name) [Some-State]:California
A challenge password []:

Generate SSL certificate

The self-signed SSL certificate is generated from the server.key private key and server.csr files.

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

The server.crt file is your site certificate suitable for use with Heroku’s SSL add-on along with the server.key private key.