How to fix SSL certificate errors

An SSL certificate is used to authenticate a website’s identity and secure the transmission of information to and from the server. When users see that tiny SSL lock icon they know they can feel a little more secure on a website. 

Given that it’s security-related, all website owners and managers should know how to check to make sure their site has an SSL certificate and how to fix SSL certificate errors as soon as they appear.  

Why SSL certificates are important

Certificates such as SSL aid in the encryption of private information, such as credit card numbers and usernames. It’s a pretty important job given how much theft happens online. Having the SSL certificate demonstrates that your website can secure online transactions, making people will feel safer when they make a purchase or fill out a form.

How to check if your site has an SSL certificate

There’s an easy way to determine whether or not a website uses SSL certificates. The HTTPS protocol specifier will appear in the web URL of any site that uses the SSL certificate system. The S indicates the SSL security layer is added to the HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). 

So, if you want to know if a site is secure, look for these two things:

  • The URL of the site begins with https://www.yoursitename.com.
  • Then, click on the padlock icon in the browser’s address bar to provide further details about the site’s security.

How to fix SSL certificate errors

Error #1: inactive certificate

When a browser gets an SSL certificate whose validity has not yet begun, the browser displays an inactive certificate error. In addition, the certificate will be rejected if the client machine’s time is more than five minutes out of sync. This happens most frequently with API clients.

Fix: Make sure the replacement SSL certificate has a valid start time. Also, verify that the client’s machine clock and server are in sync.

Error #2: certificate authority that isn’t trusted

Based on this error, the root certificate is missing from the local trusted certificate storage. Browsers can’t trust a server’s certificate when they can’t locate any locally trusted root certificates. In addition, browsers are unable to trust self-signed certificates.

Fix: You can fix this by manually adding the self-signed certificate to the browser’s trust store.

Error #3: revoked certificate

This error will occur if any of your website’s leaf or intermediate certificates are revoked and appear on the revoked certificates list.

Fix: A new certificate should be used to replace the revoked one. 

Tip: You can use SSL certificate monitoring tools like evisio to monitor your website.

Error #4: expired certificate

Most SSL certificate problems may be traced back to this one root cause. This error indicates that the SSL certificate’s validity time has ended and cannot be used anymore.

Fix: Replace any outdated SSL certificates on your web server with a valid new one.

When an SSL certificate is needed

The benefits of an SSL certificate make sense for any website, which is why between 80-95% of websites have one. You’ll absolutely need an SSL certificate if you’re running an e-commerce site or sending sensitive data. 

An SSL certificate and encrypted connection are required if your website has:

  • User authentication to access the restricted data.
  • Analyzes and manages financial data (online orders, credit card numbers, bank accounts, etc.).
  • Storage of personally identifiable data (such as social security numbers).
  • Wide range of medical and legal data types.
  • Everything that might be considered proprietary or confidential by a third party.
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