Certificate Options

Category: On-premises Hosting
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    This article defines the certificate options available to Self-hosted instances of Bitwarden. You will select your certificate option during installation. For installation instructions, see Install and Deploy On-premise.

    Generate a Certificate with Let’s Encrypt

    Let’s Encrypt is a Certificate Authority (CA) that issues trusted SSL certificates free of charge for any domain. The Bitwarden installation script offers the option to generate a trusted SSL certificate for your domain using Let’s Encrypt and Certbot.

    Certificate renewal checks occur each time Bitwarden is restarted. Using Let’s Encrypt will require you to enter an email address for certificate expiration reminders.

    Using Let’s Encrypt requires ports 80 and 443 to be open on your machine.

    Manually Update a Let’s Encrypt Certificate

    If you change the domain name of your Bitwarden server, you will need to manually update your generated certificate. Run the following commands to create a backup, update your certificate, and rebuild Bitwarden:

    ./bitwarden.sh stop
    mv ./bwdata/letsencrypt ./bwadata/letsencrypt_backup
    mkdir ./bwdata/letsencrypt
    chown -R bitwarden:bitwarden ./bwdata/letsencrypt
    chmod -R 740 ./bwdata/letsencrypt
    docker pull certbot/certbot
    docker run -i --rm --name certbot -p 443:443 -p 80:80 -v <Full Path from / >/bwdata/letsencrypt:/etc/letsencrypt/ certbot/certbot certonly --logs-dir /etc/letsencrypt/logs
    Select 1, then follow instructions
    openssl dhparam -out ./bwdata/letsencrypt/live/<your.domain.com>/dhparam.pem 2048
    ./bitwarden.sh rebuild
    ./bitwarden.sh start

    Use an Existing SSL Certificate

    You may alternatively opt to use an existing SSL Certificate, which will require you to have the following files:

    • A Server Certificate (certificate.crt)
    • A Private Key (private.key)
    • A CA Certificate (ca.crt)

    You may need to bundle your primary certificate with Intermediate CA certificates to prevent SSL trust errors. All CA Certificates should be included in the CA Certificate Chain file when using a Root CA and Intermediate CA certificate.

    Under the default configuration, place your files in ./bwdata/ssl/your.domain. You may specify a different location for your certificate files by editing the following values in ./bwdata/config.yml:

    ssl_certificate_path: <path>
    ssl_key_path: <path>
    ssl_ca_path: <path>

    The values defined in config.yml represent locations inside the NGINX container. Directories on the host are mapped to directories within the NGINX container. Under the default configuration, mappings line up as follows:

    The following values in config.yml:

    ssl_certificate_path: /etc/ssl/your.domain/certificate.crt
    ssl_key_path: /etc/ssl/your.domain/private.key
    ssl_ca_path: /etc/ssl/your.domain/ca.crt

    Map to the following files on the host:


    You should only ever need to work with files in ./bwdata/ssl/. Working with files directly in the NGINX container is not recommended.

    Using Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange

    Optionally, if using Diffie Hellman Key Exchange to generate ephemeral parameters:

    • Include a dhparam.pem file in the same directory.
    • Set the ssl_diffie_hellman_path: value in config.yml.

    You can create your own dhparam.pem file using OpenSSL with openssl dhparam -out ./dhparam.pem 2048.

    Using a Self-signed Certificate

    You may alternatively opt to use a self-signed certificate, however this is only recommended for testing.

    Self-signed certificates will not be trusted by Bitwarden client applications by default. You will be required to manually install this certificate to the trusted store of each device you plan to use Bitwarden with.

    Generate a self-signed certificate:

       mkdir ./bwdata/ssl/bitwarden.example.com
       openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:4096 -sha256 -nodes -days 365 \
         -keyout ./ssl/bitwarden.example.com/private.key \
         -out ./ssl/bitwarden.example.com/certificate.crt \
         -reqexts SAN -extensions SAN \
         -config <(cat /usr/lib/ssl/openssl.cnf <(printf '[SAN]\nsubjectAltName=DNS:bitwarden.example.com\nbasicConstraints=CA:true')) \
         -subj "/C=US/ST=New York/L=New York/O=Company Name/OU=Bitwarden/CN=bitwarden.example.com"

    Your self-signed certificate (.crt) and private key (private.key) can be placed in the ./bwdata/ssl/self/your.domain directory and configured in the ./bwdata/config.yml:

        ssl_certificate_path: /etc/ssl/bitwarden.example.com/certificate.crt
        ssl_key_path: /etc/ssl/bitwarden.example.com/private.key

    Trust a Self-signed Certificate


    To trust a self-signed certificate on Windows, run certmgr.msc and import your certificate into the Trusted Root Certification Authorities.


    To trust a self-signed certificate on Linux, add your certificate to the following directories:


    And run the following commands:

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure ca-certificates
    sudo update-ca-certificates

    Use no Certificate


    If you opt to use no certificate, you must front your installation with a proxy that serves Bitwarden over SSL. This is because Bitwarden requires HTTPS; trying to use Bitwarden without the HTTPS protocol will trigger errors.