An SSL certificate is a standard security technology for encrypting information between a visitor’s browser and your website. Because it helps keep sensitive information like passwords and payment information safe, visitors feel safer on sites that are encrypted with SSL. You can identify encrypted sites by the HTTPS in their URLs and the padlock icon in the address bar.
Recently, however, there has been an increase in error messages that may occur when attempting to access an SSL-secured site. This article contains advice on what steps you should take if you encounter these errors, including certificate error 404s, expired or invalid private keys, or weak ciphers.
What is the SSL certificate error?
The SSL certificate error occurs when a visitor arrives on your website, and their web browser shows an alert message that includes a warning symbol or words indicating that there are problems with your website's security. The below image shows what one of these alerts looks like.
What causes the SSL certificate errors?
An SSL certificate typically expires after one year. This means that it can take up to 365 days for you to start noticing visitors showing SSL errors due to your site's expired ssl certificates. When this happens, you should immediately check if any of your ssl certificates have expired, and then renew them as soon as possible. You should not wait until the end of their date range before starting the renewal process. If your ssl certificates have already expired, you should immediately renew them before they cause problems for anyone visiting your website. But the hardest cause is that any mistake in configuring SSL Certificates can make your website inaccessible to customers.
What happens when an SSL certificate error occurs?
When you connect to an SSL-secured website, you’ll be shown a padlock icon in your browser window and the site's URL will start with https. If there is some problem with the site's SSL certificate, however, you’ll see an alert that says something like "This Connection is Untrusted" or "The Site You are Trying to Access has requested your login credentials." Sometimes this may mean that the web server has been hacked and someone else is attempting to access your data.
What should I do if I encounter certificate errors?
The first thing you need to understand about ssl certificate errors is that they fall into two categories: user and system.
User Errors: These occur when a visitor tries to access your website, but the browser cannot establish an encrypted connection with your site. The most common user errors are page not found messages such as certificate error 404s or timeout messages. However, other types of user errors exist and can include unresponsive websites due to dead links, expired certificates or weak ciphers for instance.
System Errors: System errors occur on the side of the hosting company’s server and prevent it from establishing a secure session with your web server. Common system errors include certificate expired or invalid private keys.
If you have any reason to believe your connection might not be secure, please complete the following steps.
1. Close your browser window immediately
2. If you can't switch away from the site without closing your browser window, at least close all open tabs
3. Clear browsing data for that website
4. To prevent future issues, make sure there’s no malware on your computer that might be causing the problem and update your browser. Also make sure there is no network-level interference blocking access to the website.
If you still receive a certificate error, it's a system error and to fix this problem you must contact your hosting company.
What are some solutions to fix SSL certificate error?
Once you know that one or more of your SSL certificates has expired, the next step is to replace it as soon as possible. You can use a free SSL Certificate Generator like the one we offer on Comodo InstantSSL. It will help you create new valid SSL certificates and deliver them to your visitors' browsers in under 2 minutes (for free!)
Why do I need to use an SSL certificate monitoring?
Today, most consumers expect that their web transactions are secure. Since HTTPS is a must, any mistake in configuration can render your website inaccessible to customers. We keep your SSL certificates up to date so that your website remains accessible and shows the verified lock to your visitors by ssl certificate monitoring.
Don’t lose visitors because of SSL certificate health. Use an SSL certificate monitoring service and get notified before expiry so you have time to act.