Generating the switch's server host certificate

You must generate a server certificate on the switch before enabling SSL. The switch uses this server certificate, along with a dynamically generated session key pair to negotiate an encryption method and session with a browser trying to connect via SSL to the switch. (The session key pair mentioned above is not visible on the switch. It is a temporary, internally generated pair used for a particular switch/client session, and then discarded.)

The server certificate is stored in the switch’s flash memory. The server certificate should be added to your certificate folder on the SSL clients who you want to have access to the switch. Most browser applications automatically add the switch’s host certificate to there certificate folder on the first use. This method does allow for a security breach on the first access to the switch. (See the documentation for your browser application.)

There are two types of certificated that can be used for the switch’s host certificate. The first type is a self-signed certificate, which is generated and digitally signed by the switch. Since self-signed certificates are not signed by a third-party certificate authority, there is no audit trail to a root CA certificate and no fool-proof means of verifying authenticity of certificate. The second type is a certificate authority-signed certificate, which is digitally signed by a certificate authority, has an audit trail to a root CA certificate, and can be verified unequivocally.


There is usually a fee associated with receiving a verified certificate and the valid dates are limited by the root certificate authority issuing the certificate.

When you generate a certificate key pair and/or certificate on the switch, the switch places the key pair and/or certificate in flash memory (and not in running config.) Also, the switch maintains the certificate across reboots, including power cycles. You should consider this certificate to be “permanent”; that is, avoid regenerating the certificate without a compelling reason. Otherwise, you will have to reintroduce the switch’s host certificate on all management stations you have set up for SSL access to the switch using the earlier certificate.

Removing (zeroizing) the switch's certificate key pair or certificate render the switch unable to engage in SSL operation and automatically disables SSL on the switch. (To verify whether SSL is enabled, execute show config.)