How to Install SSL Certificate on Node.Js for Ultimate Security?

Learn how to install an SSL certificate on Node.Js for higher website security

Open-source technologies are famous among developers. According to a survey, 76% of people used open source technologies in 2021 for web application development. Node.Js is one such technology that allows developers with excellent backend capabilities.

However, like all other technologies, Node.Js do have vulnerabilities. For example, Node.Js applications can be exposed to code injection attacks. It is a type of cyber-attack where your app’s source code gets exposed to hackers. This happens due to a lack of proper input and output validations.

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Further, hackers inject malicious codes into the source to access critical functions and data access. Similarly, there are several vulnerabilities in Node.Js apps which attract cyber attacks like,

  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attack
  • Default cookie names
  • The non-standard HTTP response header
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks

However, securing your Node.Js application with an SSL certificate can improve security against such vulnerabilities. In addition, an SSL certificate helps ensure communication between web applications and servers. So, here we are with a comprehensive guide on installing Node.Js SSL certificate for your apps.

Before we begin the installation process, let’s understand the SSL certificate first.

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL certificate is a digital certificate that validates your website’s identity and creates an encrypted connection. In addition, it secures the communication between a server and user’s device to make data exchange anonymous. So, you can understand why the installation of SSL certificate on Node.Js is so essential for your website. Now, let’s discuss the top ways to install an SSL certificate in the Node.Js environment.

How to Install SSL Certificate on Node.Js?

The first step is to install Node.js on your computer if you have not already. The next step is to generate a certificate signing request(CSR) for your Node.Js certificate. For CSR generation, you will need a code execution in Node.Js. But before we start discussing the installation of the Node.Js certification, here are some pre-requisites you need.

The SSL certificate installation process requires different types of files like,

  • A .crt file for the certificate
  • A .ca-bundle file which has all the necessary details of the certification authority(CA) and a chain of certificates
  • A .key file for the private

A private key is generated before the issuance of your certificate by the CA. It is used to validate authentication and create a request for a certificate. It is important to note that the security of the private key is paramount, so you need to secure the directory that holds the private key file. If possible, try to use a secure hardware device to store the directory of the private keys. The next step is to import the SSL/TLS certificate files to your Node.JS application.

Importing SSL/TLS certificate files on Node.Js server

Import certificate files to your Node.Js application will begin by downloading the files from the package received by your CA. The SSL certification process involves several steps, at the end of which you receive the CA Bundle for your certificate. Let’s discuss the steps to download your file first and then import it to your Node.Js app.

CSR generation

The first step is to create a CSR on your Node.Js server. Here, we have used OpenSSL for CSR and private key generation. Then, you can use the OpenSSL utility tool for CSR generation on the Node.Js server. It can be downloaded from the official website or GitHub.

Further, open your Node.Js command prompt on the computer and run the following command for CSR generation,

openssl req -new -newkey rsa:2048 -nodes -keyout mydomain.key -out mydomain.csr

Now change the name of the domain according to your registered domain name. Here mydomain. csr is your CSR. Further, you will have to provide details like,

  • Fully Qualified Domain Name(FQDN) specification, which is to be assigned to SSL certificate
  • For Wildcard SSL certificates, you need to add an asterisk sign before FQDN
  • Details of city, state, and country where the organization is located
  • Full name of the business for Organization Validated certificates

Once you complete the process, your CSR code will be ready. You can easily extract the code which is stored in mydomain. csr by using a text editor. OpenSSL utility will also create a private key file mydomain. Key which you need to store securely for further use.

Now that we have our CSR code and private key ready, it’s time to request for SSL certificate.

SSL certificate file download

Once you create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server, a private key and a public key are generated. Next, you need to send the CSR data retrieved through the text editor to CA bundled with a public key. Next, CAs use the CSR file to create structured information matching the private key. Finally, CA will issue an SSL certificate after validating the details in the CSR file like location, organization’s name, registration, etc.

You will receive the SSL certificate bundle through an email from CA. Once all the certificate files are ready, it’s time to import.

Initiating the import

By now, you must have the following files ready,

  • “mydomain.crt” for primary certificate
  • “.crt” file for the root certificate
  • “.ca-bundle” file contains both root and intermediate certificate
  • “mydomain. Key” – private key file

Next, create HTTPS server in the Node.Js environment by using the following code,

#vim server.js
var https = require(‘https’);
var fs = require(‘fs’);
var https_options = {
key: fs.readFileSync(“/path/to/private.key”),
cert: fs.readFileSync(“/path/to/your_domain_name.crt”),
ca: [
https.createServer(options, function (req, res) {
res.end(“Welcome to Node.js HTTPS Servern”);

Here you need to specify information according to the domain name, the correct path to the private key file, CA bundle, certificate file, etc.

Further, you can activate the SSL certificate through code execution of # node https_server.js

Now that your SSL certificate is active, you can test the application’s security. First, we discussed the process for Node.Js SSL certificate installation. However, you can use two types of certificates: CA signs and self-signed certificates.

So, let’s understand how to install a self-signed SSL certificate.

Installation of Self-signed Node.Js SSL certificate

Self-signed certificates do not need a CA validation. They are signed through the private key and are primarily used for internal security purposes. Especially for software test environments, a self-signed certificate helps with security and is faster to issue. However, such certificates are not for enterprises and organizations to improve customer trust.

Self-signed certificates do not need validation by CA, so they are not trustworthy for users. Now that you have some idea about the self-signed Node.Js SSL certificate let’s understand the importing process.

Self-signed certificate generation

The first step to installing the self-signed Node.Js SSL certificate is to generate it on through a code given below,

openssl genrsa -out key.pem
openssl req -new -key key.pem -out csr.pem
openssl x509 -req -days 9999 -in csr.pem -signkey key.pem -out cert.pem
rm csr.pem

Once the code execution is complete, you will have two critical files for HTTPS server creation in the Node.Js environment- cert.pem and key.pem. Further, placing them into the same folder as the Node directory will allow your self-signed certificate to connect with the server.

All you need is an HTTPS server to connect with the self-signed certificate.

HTTPS server generation

Creating an HTTPS server is one of the key processes to connecting with a Self-signed certificate. First, place the cert.pem and key.pem files in the same directory as that of your Node.Js server. Next, use the following code to create an HTTPS server,

const https = require(‘https’);
const fs = require(‘fs’);

const options = {
key: fs.readFileSync(‘key.pem’),
cert: fs.readFileSync(‘cert.pem’)

https.createServer(options, function (req, res) {
res.end(“my world\n”);

Here it is essential to understand that, unlike fs.readFile, fs.readFileSync blocks the entire process till it is complete. So, you can load critical configuration data and sync functions during the process. This is important for a test environment where you need to change the configuration of functions for testing purposes.

Further, run the HTTPS server and activate your self-signed certificate; run the node app.Js on the environment terminal.


Like all technologies, Node.Js has its vulnerabilities, so installing an SSL certificate makes more sense. Furthermore, installing the Node.Js SSL certificate ensures that your application is safe against many cyber threats like DDOS attacks, code injections, XSS, etc. So, why wait for a data breach to happen before you install an SSL certificate? Instead, generate a CSR now and secure your apps.

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