How to Fix Expired Security Certificates?
As the internet has become the center of our day to day lives, ensuring that you have proper security and authentication when it comes to your website is crucial. As the backbone of our secure internet, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are a must in protecting your information.
SSL establishes an encrypted link between the browser and server. Whatever data is passed between these two, SSL ensures that it is private and secure. As avid navigators of the internet, we are essentially able to navigate through safe online territory thanks to SSL.
Security certificates do expire, as they carry validity periods. These dates are an important way of providing assurance to the security of SSL. The validity period regulates and confirms server authenticity that allows your web browser to understand the identity of the server.
Fixing expired certificates is a vital process that protects your site from theft and damage. If you find that your website certificate expired, follow the informative guide below where we go more in depth on what it means and how to fix security certificates.
If you find that you have certificates expiring and want to take a more proactive approach you can use Venafi's software-as-a-service solution to find your expiring certificates. Venafi as a Service will automatically find certificates on your network and alert you before they expire.
What Does It Mean When a Site's Security Certificate Has Expired?
Just like a driver’s license must be renewed to maintain accurate and up to date information on your identity, SSL certificates follow the same policy; they have a validity period. After this period has passed, browsers display a warning on the webpage, signifying that the SSL certificate expired.
These certifications often expire after three years or less. This is to make sure all information in your certificate is accurate, and it proves your validity as the trusted owner of the domain. Expiration dates essentially establish a cycle of solidifying and maintaining ownership, trust, and security on your platform.
It’s important to monitor certificates to preemptively renew them before they expire. Whichever CA (Certificate Authority) service you have received your certification from, they usually provide notification ahead of your expiration date. So it’s best to renew your certificate once you get your first notification rather than bear the consequences of having your security certificate expired.
What Happens When a Security Certificate Expires?
When using an expired certificate, you risk your encryption and mutual authentication. As a result, both your website and users are susceptible to attacks and viruses. For example, a hacker can take advantage of a website with an expired SSL certificate and create a fake website identical to it.
As mentioned earlier, when users visit your website with an expired SSL certificate, there will be a warning sign displayed that blocks them from the site. For example, on Google Chrome, there is usually a large exclamation mark or a lock logo with a message saying, “your connection is not private.” This means the site is not secure and will not open unless the user decides to move forward.
If your users or customers go on your site, only to find themselves blocked out by security warnings, your traffic will drop, and you could lose business. As your presence on the internet plays a large role in reputation, ensuring that your SSL certificate is up to date is vital in attracting and maintaining relationships with your customers.
Having and maintaining SSL certificates is vital in preserving authenticity and trust on your website. In addition to protecting your information, SSL helps to establish positive customer relationships. Understanding certificate expiration and how to fix expired certificates is important in maintaining a positive reputation for your brand and business.
How Do I Fix My Security Certificate?
As much as we try to stay on top of our schedule, life gets busy, and we forget to do things sometimes. It happens! That’s why knowing how to renew security certificates is important.
Steps to Renew an Expired SSL/TLS Certificate:
Producing a New CSR (Certificate Signing Request) Code
This can be obtained from your hosting control panel (the platform where your SSL is based) or by contacting your hosting provider.
Selecting an SSL Certificate
Just as you did when you first acquired your security certificate, you will select a certificate you feel is right for you and your site. There are various certificates that carry different validation levels.
Validating Renewal SSL
This requires completing a domain control validation (DCV) that confirms ownership rights of your domain. There are three methods for DCV according to namecheap:
- Email validation
- HTTP validation
- DNS-based validation
Installing The SSL Certificate On Your Server
Refer to your installation guideline or contact your hosting provider for assistance on how to install the SSL certificate on your server.
Resolving Common Problems with Certificates
- HTTP and HTTPS Content Error
All of your images, documents, and videos should come from an HTTPS link. This means your files are being hosted on a secure site. If they don’t come from an HTTPS link, your visitors will be greeted by a security warning that will take them to an HTTP. Make sure to update all your links, references, and plugins to the HTTPS version of your website.
Sometimes, your visitors may visit your site using an HTTP link. In this case, you should add a redirect in the server configuration file, so that whenever someone types in “www.example.com,” it should automatically redirect them to https://www.example.com (the secured site).
- Mismatched Domain
To launch an HTTPS connection, the domain in the SSL certificate must match the domain in the browser URL. If they don’t match, the browser will think the SSL certificate was meant for another website.
A common incident is when “example.com” and “www.example.com” get mixed up. Thus, when you are purchasing a certificate, make sure it supports your domain with and without the “www.”
- Human Error
As the site administrator, you may not have the knowledge and/or experience to install the SSL certificate, which will result in connection errors. Be sure to carefully read and follow the installation instructions that come with your SSL certificate.
If you are still having trouble, reach out to the support team for guidance. Some services also offer free reports on your SSL certificate installation.
Machine Identity Management
Keeping track of the thousands of digital certificates in your organization and when they expire can be an impossible task. Fortunately, automated machine identity management processes give you visibility into the TLS/SSL certificates used in your network. If used correctly, that means you’ll never run the risk of having a certificate-related outage again.
Interested in learning more about machine identity management? Download the Machine Identity Management Dummies Guide.