SSL-TLS-Encryption - Secure your mail and web servers

Do you and/or your employees check email while connected to public WiFi networks or at home? Did you know that your user names, passwords and the email messages are as easy as this web page to read using simple tools that can be downloaded by anyone? Now you know! There is a simple way to fix this problem using a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate on your email server.

Most email servers support what is known as TLS encryption and most email web servers (like Outlook Web Access or OWA) support SSL encryption. Fortunately, they both can use the exact same certificate on a Microsoft IIS web server to set up a secure encrypted connection for communication. This all works in the background. The end-user will just gain the security without the complication, but you, the server administrator have a little work to do in order to make this happen.

The first step in securing your server is determining exactly what you want to secure and to what level. There are so many options and reasons for using each one that you really need to understand the processes used and how they work. This includes the security level, the server resources the security will consume and much more. So, let's begin...

Microsoft IIS needs to support SSL. Out of the box it does not do this, but by simply going into your server config you can easily add the functionality.
Here is the Microsoft Technet article which explains what you need to do on an IIS 6.0 server. (Applies to: Windows Server 2003)
Here is the Microsoft Technet article which explains what you need to do on an IIS 7.0 server. (Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2)

The next step requires you to create a server instance using the built-in Microsoft SSL Certificate Wizard. This is where things get a little more complicated, but.. you can do it! Just follow the steps to create a certificate request, and save the request so that you can process it later. Do NOT try to submit the request within the wizard as it will limit what SSL certificate you can get, and where you can get it. One thing that you need to adjust is the size of the key. A minimum of 2048 bits are required now. Make sure to select that instead of the default 1024 bits in the wizard. You will also need the domain visible in the whois database (not private registration) and access to the administrative contact email or an admin/administrator address in the domain you own to receive the messages for the approval process. If you are confused about this please give us a call for assistance. We know how daunting a process this can be if you are not familiar with it. Once you understand it things are actually quite simple. We will get you there painlessly.

When you are ready to make that cert request and get a certificate we suggest you find a reliable source (like us) that can also give you support, and provide help installing your SSL certificate should you need it. There is nothing as frustrating as being told that this is your problem and they do not proivide assistance. Chances are you pay top dollar for that abuse too!

A little information on TLS:
A TLS connection used for email communication requires only a simple 2048 or greater bit encryption (ECC) certificate. The certificate can be using a certificate chain as you will be sending out the encrypted data directly. Basically, the email server will send out the request via a command like "STARTTLS". A remote server or email client will see this and begin to negotiate a secure connection if it has that ability. More and more servers are set up to do this, but most organizations require a private email server is used as a large email provider cannot guarantee the security on their server will meet all regulations. PCI-DSS requires a higher dedicated instance using a certificate in your company name. If you are using a web based connection then you must decide whether a simple certifate or a more complicated green bar (verified) certificate is required. In some cases you may need to have this level of protection. These SSL certificates are much more expensive so think twice. It looks great but you may not need it.

Forced TLS:
Many servers allow you to force a TLS connection when talking to specific hosts. Make sure that you server does! This allows compliance to companies that must use TLS for some communications. There are more and more reasons you need this, including the new HIPAA regulations, insurance regulations, PCI-DSS requirements and more. The new HIPAA regulations extend the responsibility beyond a healthcare provider now, and those who exchange information with them now have to abide by many of the same rules which include secured email connections.

We can help you with compliance questions. Feel free to give us a ring or send an email. Email us at or call us toll-free at (800) 651-9324.

Your Data Center Incorporated provides pre-sales, sales and flat-rate installation support when purchasing an SSL certificate from us. We also give you the lowest prices around on top industry names like Comodo, Geotrust, Symantec, Thawte, RapidSSL and Verisign. Our installation support is not free, but with the money you save buying the SSL certificate from us it will feel like it is! That is what makes Your Data Center a trusted name for all things Internet, from managed hosting to self-hosting via a three continent wide hosting environment, hundreds of top-level and sub-level domains name extensions, secure server certificates for web server and mail server use and much more. We even have wildcard and multi-domain SSL certificates. Our partnerships allow us to give you the lowest prices available on the planet! Compare us to the rest and you will find there is no one who can offer what we can! No one!

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