Serving your API over HTTPS is becoming more and more crucial by the day, especially from a usability perspective since the browsers are shedding all the HTTP and other unsecure, legacy support nowadays

In this blog, I will teach you by example, how to generate an SSL/TLS certificate for any API you have & then use a proxy server (developed using NGINX) to basically start serving your simple HTTP API over HTTPS

Step 1 - The Domain Name Server (DNS) Resolution

You need a domain record (A or AAA) that basically acts as the entity that the certificate will be generated for

The only step to do here is to use for DNS service create a simple A record that points to the server you are going to use to host the API.

For me, I did it like this for a project :

DNS Record Pointing to your API server

Before you start the next step, make sure the DNS has propagated properly by running the following commands

Replace with your own API_DOMAIN_NAME


Next, we will generate a certificate attached to this domain.

Step 2 - Certificate generation

You can generate a public certificate & private key pair for free using letsencrypt.

For this, you 1st install the package on your machine

sudo apt install letsencrypt

Next you generate a simple certificate for the domain you want to certify using the certbot API that you can now access
For this step you need your port 80 unblocked so get that done by simply running
sudo fuser -k 80/tcp

Then you can safely run

sudo certbot certonly --standalone

Now, the CLI will prompt you to enter the domain name (here, it is & then it will generate a pair of a public certificate & a private key

This is what will be actually used by our proxy server to even respond to requests to this API_DOMAIN_NAME

Step 3 - Proxy server setup

This is a simple nginx server we will setup that will listen on port 80 (HTTP) & port 443 (HTTPS) of our server & redirected it to our api's port.

We just pass the location of the generated certificate-key pair to NGINX in its configuration file

For writing a nginx.conf while, first install nginx

sudo apt install nginx

First stop running nginx service by running

sudo nginx -s stop

Next you should go to the directory where this configuration file is stored & override the code with the simple proxy code you have

cd /etc/nginx
sudo nano nginx.conf

In there, we specify a simple rule to pass the 80 (HTTP) & 443 (HTTPS) traffic to our backend. Here, I have even gone ahead & made this a load balancer with stickiness by specifying my api resolvers running on ports 8080, 8081, 8082 & add a #ip_hash configuration option so that once the client gets associated with one api, its requests are always directed there:

And we pass the locations of the generated public certificate & private key pair to the nginx rule that is resolving port 443 using SSL.

Here's my configuration file

For you would be whatever your API_DOMAIN_NAME is

http {
    upstream allbackend {

    server {
          listen 80;
          listen 443 ssl;
          ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/;
          ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/;
          location / {

              proxy_pass http://allbackend/;


events { }

Then simply, clear any pending services on ports 80 & 443 restart nginx on them using :

sudo fuser -k 80/tcp

sudo fuser -k 443/tcp

sudo service nginx restart

That's that ! You've made your API HTTPS now