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Know your proxy

Before configuring your computer applications to work with your proxy, you have to know which configuration settings to apply.


These can typically be obtained from your IT department:

  • the proxy's host and port for the two protocols (HTTP and HTTPs). For example http://proxyhost:8080 and https://proxyhost:4443
  • the list of hosts that do not require a proxy, in other words the hosts for which the applications should still use a direct connection. These are typically computers located in the intranet, but also some external hosts that have been put in a 'whitelist' by your IT department. For example localhost,,mylocalserver
  • (optional) your credentials (username and password). Note that NTML proxies such as ZScaler do not require this - this is even dangerous in term of security to write your username and password in a file or an environment variable, so we don't recommend it

Auto-configuration scripts

Some tools are able to get their configuration with "auto-config" from a .pac script. If your organization provides such a script, make sure that you retrieve it.

Advanced: proxies that modify the SSL certification chain

Some proxies such as ZScaler modify the SSL certification chain by replacing the root Certification Authority (CA)'s certificate signature with their own CA certificate.

In these cases, you will have to tell all your software applications to trust this new CA certificate. We will see below how to do that, but first let's check if you need it with your proxy.

Check if your proxy needs to be trusted

To check if your proxy changes the certification chain, here is the procedure on Firefox (but you can probably find equivalent possibilities in other browsers):

  • connect to any https page such as
  • click on the small 'locker' icon at the left of the URL bar
  • extend the popup. It should state "secure connection, verified by xxx":

Checking if your proxy changes the certification chain

  • if xxx has the name of your proxy (in this example, Zscaler) instead of being a known certification authority (such as DigiCert, Thawte, Verisign, Symantec, etc.), that means that your proxy has modified the certification chain. Otherwise, that means that either your proxy does not modify it, or bad luck : you picked a site that is in the whitelist :) select another https url and try again, to be sure.

Download your proxy's root certificate

If the test was positive, you will need to download the proxy's CA certificate in order to be able to trust it. For this:

  • Click on More Information > View Certificate > Details.

Exporting the root certificate

  • Select the ROOT certificate, at the top of the hierarchy - not the intermediate ones ! - and export it as a *.crt or *.cer file. If your browser asks you which certificate format is needed, select base64. This format is a string representation of the certificate's bytes, so you may open the file in Notepad and copy/paste the certificate easily if you need to.

You now have a my_proxys_root_ca_cert.cer file.

Note: .cer, .crt and .pem are both valid extensions for such a base64 encoded file, see this article. They can be opened with a text editor if needed.

Create a certificate bundle including your proxy's root certificate

As we'll see in the next session, some tools are able to support addition of trusted certificates one by one (= separate certificate files), while some others only support changing the whole trusted certificate bundle entirely (= a single file containing all trusted certificates).

You will therefore need to build such a certificate bundle file. This is done by appending your proxy's root certificate (my_proxys_root_ca_cert.cer, downloaded in previous section) to an existing certificate bundle.

  • Get an existing certificate bundle. For example you may wish to get it from certifi by downloading it from this adress: certs.pem. IMPORTANT please check that this link is still the link recommended by! Downloading a compromised list of certificate authorities can enfringe your computer's (and IT dept) security rules, proceed with care and/or double-check with your IT department.
  • save the file somewhere on your computer, and rename it for example 160117-certifi-ca-bundle-with-proxy.pem. Make sure that only administrator account has write permissions on this file. This will prevent programs to add other trusted certificates later on.
  • open it in your favorite text editor to edit it: at the end of the file, append your Proxy's certificate (the contents of the my_proxys_root_ca_cert.cer file downloaded in previous step). The bottom of the resulting certificate bundle file should therefore now look like this:
(... end of the certs.pem file provided by certifi)

My Proxy's Root CA
(... this is fairly long)

You are now all set :

  • You have a my_proxys_root_ca_cert.crt file containing your proxy's certificate only. This will be referred to as <path_to_root_ca_cert.crt> in next section
  • You have a 160117-certifi-ca-bundle-with-proxy.pem file containing a bundle of trusted certificates, as well as your proxy's. This will be referred to as <path_to_ca_bundle.pem> in next section

(Remember that .crt, .cer and .pem are both valid extensions for these files)