Top Guide To Install SSL Certificate on Microsoft Exchange Server 2019

Microsoft Exchange Server has been the go-to platform for organizations looking to have enhanced collaborations on Windows. Besides the collaboration, it is known for its high availability features, centralized messaging, and Software as a Service (SaaS) capabilities. However, it can be exposed to cyberattacks without security measures like installing an SSL certificate and proper user authentication.

An SSL certificate is an encryption-based digital certification that allows your organization to secure communication between a user’s device and server. Significantly, such a certificate helps avoid the problems of a compromised Microsoft Exchange Server. 

In 2021, Microsoft revealed four zero-day vulnerabilities in the Exchange Server that could be exposed. Therefore, you need a security measure to help secure the data and server interactions. We will discuss one of the most effective security measures to secure your Exchange Server 2019- the “SSL Certificate.” Further, we will also discuss how to install the certificate on the Microsoft Exchange Server.

First, let us understand the SSL certification process briefly!

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is like Harry Porter’s magical blanket that hides the data exchanged between a server and a browser from hackers. In other words, it secures the server communication by using cryptographic encryptions. SSL certificate can be purchased from reputed CA- certificate authorities. SSL certificate types include branded SSL certs like Code Signing Certificates, Wildcard SSL, Single domain SSL, Multi Domain SSL Certificate etc.

The SSL certificate process begins with Certificate Signing Request (CSR) generation and a private key. Next, a certificate authority (CA) will verify the requestor’s credentials to issue a certificate based on CSR. You can then download it from a link emailed by the CA. Further, you can install it on the Microsoft Exchange Server and secure your communications. A Microsoft Exchange Server account allows you to manage contacts, emails, calendaring, and scheduled communications. 

In other words, it will enable you to synchronize communications across desktop, mobile, and web-based systems. Therefore, without further ado, here is how to install your SSL certificate on the Microsoft Exchange Server.

Installing the SSL certificate on Microsoft Exchange Server 2019

The process begins with the generation of CSR, and you can use Exchange Server to generate the request. Within the admin center of Microsoft Exchange Server, you will find a tab for “Certificates.” Further, you will have two options within the Certificates tab when you click on the “Plus” symbol,

  1. Create a request for a certificate from the certificate authority
  2. Create a request for a self-signed certificate

Choose the first option and other fill-in details like organization name, department name, location, etc. Next, you will have to save the CSR file into the .req extension for further usage and private key generation.

Now that you have the CSR file, send it to CA for verification, complete the configuration process, and validate the email received. After it, the CA sends a certificate to your email. You need to download it for installation. The process of installing an SSL certificate can be executed in multiple ways,

  • Through Exchange shell management
  • Installation with the admin center

Let us first discuss the installation with an admin center,

  • Open the admin center by login into your account.
  • Find the Certificate tab from the Server option available on the sidebar.

Source

  • Select the certificate indicating the pending request in the option.
  • Next, specify the network path.
  • Once you specify the network path, go back to the certificate tab
  • Click on the edit option on top of the certificate you need to install
  • Click on services like IMAP, IIS, SMTP, and POP to configure incoming and outgoing emails
  • Next, click OK, and your certificate is installed. 

If you want to use the Microsoft Exchange shell management, here is the command,

Import-ExchangeCertificate -FileData ([System.IO.File]::ReadAllBytes(‘<FilePathOrUNCPath>’)) [-Password (ConvertTo-SecureString -String ‘<Password> ‘ -AsPlainText -Force)] [-PrivateKeyExportable <$true | $false>] [-Server <ServerIdentity>]

You can use the above command for binary and chain of certificate files. For example, executing the command will allow you to install the SSL certificate file on Microsoft Exchange Server 2019.

Conclusion

Security of your Microsoft Exchange Server account is key to the protection. It enables organizations to ensure that email communications and messaging are anonymous to hackers. Here, we have discussed two ways to install the digital certificate to secure Microsoft Exchange Server. 

However, which approach to choose for installation depends on your specific requirements. So, if you have doubts about the installation process or which SSL certificate to choose, please comment below

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