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ngIRCd - SSL/TLS Encrypted Connections

ngIRCd supports SSL/TLS encrypted connections using the OpenSSL or GnuTLS libraries. Both encrypted server-server links as well as client-server links are supported.

SSL is a compile-time option which is disabled by default. Use one of these options of the ./configure script to enable it:

  • --with-openssl: enable SSL support using OpenSSL.
  • --with-gnutls: enable SSL support using GnuTLS.

You can check the output of ngircd --version to validate if your executable includes support for SSL or not: "+SSL" must be listed in the feature flags.

You also need a SSL key and certificate, for example using Let's Encrypt, which is out of the scope of this document.

From a feature point of view, ngIRCds support for both libraries is comparable. The only major difference (at this time) is that ngIRCd with GnuTLS does not support password protected private keys.


SSL-encrypted connections and plain-text connects can't run on the same network port (which is a limitation of the IRC protocol); therefore you have to define separate port(s) in your [SSL] block in the configuration file.

A minimal configuration for accepting SSL-encrypted client & server connections looks like this:

CertFile = /etc/ssl/certs/my-fullchain.pem
KeyFile = /etc/ssl/certs/my-privkey.pem
Ports = 6697, 6698

In this case, the server only deals with incoming connections and never has to validate SSL certificates itself, and therefore no "Certificate Authorities" are needed.

If you want to use outgoing SSL-connections to other servers, you need to add:

CAFile = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
DHFile = /etc/ngircd/dhparams.pem

SSLConnect = yes

The CAFile option configures a file listing all the certificates of the trusted Certificate Authorities.

The Diffie-Hellman parameters file dhparams.pem can be created like this:

  • OpenSSL: openssl dhparam -2 -out /etc/ngircd/dhparams.pem 4096
  • GnuTLS: certtool --generate-dh-params --bits 4096 --outfile /etc/ngircd/dhparams.pem

Note that enabling SSLConnect not only enforces SSL-encrypted links for outgoing connections to other servers, but for incoming connections as well: If a server configured with SSLConnect = yes tries to connect on a plain-text connection, it won't be accepted to prevent data leakage! Therefore you should set this for all servers you expect to use SSL-encrypted connections!

Accepting untrusted Remote Certificates

If you are using self-signed certificates or otherwise invalid certificates, which ngIRCd would reject by default, you can force ngIRCd to skip certificate validation on a per-server basis and continue establishing outgoing connections to the respective peer by setting SSLVerify = no in the [SERVER] block of this remote server in your configuration.

But please think twice before doing so: the established connection is still encrypted but the remote site is not verified at all and man-in-the-middle attacks are possible!