OCSP Stapling and Nginx

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I’ve already deployed OCSP Stapling back in November, 2012. Now I’d like to share how to setup OCSP Stapling on CentOS with you.

Configurate OCSP for sparanoid.com. Get your current SSL certificates chain order:

$ openssl s_client -showcerts -connect sparanoid:443  ("level" c ".crt")} /---END CERTIFICATE-----/{inc=0}'

Print out the OCSP server:

$ openssl x509 -noout -text -in sparanoid.com.crt | grep OCSP

Validate certs against the OCSP server:

$ openssl ocsp -text -no_nonce -issuer PositiveSSLCA2.crt -CAfile sparanoid_com.crt -cert sparanoid_com.crt -VAfile PositiveSSLCA2.crt -url http://ocsp.comodoca.com -respout /etc/ssl/certs/sparanoid.com_staple

Add OCSP Stapling support for Nginx, for more infomation you should refer to Nginx’s ngx_http_ssl_module:

ssl_stapling            on;
resolver      ;
ssl_stapling_file       /etc/ssl/certs/sparanoid.com_staple;
ssl_stapling_verify     on;

Reload nginx to validate if OCSP Stapling is working:

$ openssl s_client -connect sparanoid.com:443 -tls1_2 -tlsextdebug -status

The Problem

Updated Jan 20, 2014, 6:29 PM: So far the above guide is not working any more, so what did I do wrong? Please recheck my configuration:

ssl_stapling_file       /etc/ssl/certs/sparanoid.com_staple;

The ssl_stapling_file configuration itself is not a problem. However, the problem is that the stapling response should be updated periodically. So the above configuration resulted an outdated OCSP response:

OCSP Response Data:
    OCSP Response Status: successful (0x0)
    Produced At: Apr 12 12:20:35 2013 GMT
    Cert Status: good
    This Update: Apr 12 12:20:35 2013 GMT
    Next Update: Apr 16 20:20:35 2013 GMT

The Solution

So how to solve this issue? You don’t need cron to fetch the stapling file, for example you can use the following configuration:

ssl_stapling            on;
ssl_stapling_verify     on;
resolver       valid=300s;
resolver_timeout        3s;
ssl_trusted_certificate /etc/nginx/ssl/ca/PositiveSSL-CA.bundle.crt;

Instead of defining ssl_stapling_file, use ssl_trusted_certificate will let Nginx update OCSP response automatically, so it’s recommended to define a failover DNS resolver and a small resolver timeout.


The ssl_trusted_certificate option must point to the root certificate and all intermediate certificates of the CA:

For verification to work, the certificate of the server certificate issuer, the root certificate, and all intermediate certificates should be configured as trusted using the ssl_trusted_certificate directive.

You can also enable OCSP Stapling for multiple server directives. However OCSP Stapling must be first enabled in the default_server directive before it can be enabled on any other directive.