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What Would Happen If Your SSL Certificate Expired?

What Would Happen If Your SSL Certificate Expired?

When physical business owners turn into digital web owners, they search for digital securities that can secure their websites against intruders and hackers. They develop an awareness about the various types of protection for securing their site-sensitive data.

One such security that they install on their websites for preventing their data from hackers is an SSL Certificate.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is a digital security certificate that uses 256-bit encryption to secure site data. This encryption converts the plain text into a coded format, making it difficult for the hackers to decode.

Business owners are relieved once they install this certificate, but little do they know that these certificates also come with an expiry date. Since they are unaware of the termination/end of SSL certificates and their consequences on their site data, their focus is minimal on this aspect.

This article will discuss why SSL certificates expire, their consequences post their expiry date, and what steps need to be taken when an SSL certificate is expired.

Do SSL certificates Expire?

Yes, SSL certificates don’t live life long, and the web owners using SSL certificates must be aware of this fact. All SSL certificates have a termination/end date. The CAB Forum, which issues SSL certificates, has penned down some basic requirements which need to be followed by the CAs before the issuance of these certificates.

These requirements also state that SSL certificates come with a limited lifespan. This lifespan (validity period) is defined for better site security and for validating server authenticity to the browser.

Once this validation date is over, browsers immediately start showing SSL errors and warning alerts to users. Expiry of SSL certificates may cause grave repercussions like security lapses in encryption and business data exposure.

Previously the life span of these digital securities was for 27 months, but from 1st September 2020, Chrome limits the validity of SSL certificates to 398 days.

What happens if your SSL Certificate is Expired?

If an SSL certificate expires, browsers start displaying warning alerts.

“Your Connection is Not Private”

“NET::ERR_CERT_DATE_INVALID”

err_cert_date_invalid

Warning alerts may differ for different browsers, but the message they try to convey is the same. Some users ignore these messages or click them without knowing their meaning. It’s advisable to read and understand these warning signs before viewing the site.

In case of unawareness about the same, take the help of Google and then proceed.

Consequences of Using an Expired SSL Certificate:

 

Expired SSL certificates create a negative impact on the website owner and the site visitor.

Impacts on Website Owner:

  • The site becomes vulnerable to scammers, which leads to a decrease in user trust.
  • A decrease in trust leads to a decline in business sales, conversions, and revenue.
  • When users see warning alerts displayed on the site, they abandon the site instantly due to caution, and this causes an increase in cart abandonment rate.
  • It harms brand image and business reputation also.
  • The site vulnerability opens gateways for hackers who can easily penetrate your networks and destroy your business.

Impacts on Website Visitor:

  • The website data and customer information are at risk of being breached due to security lapses. The browsers display warning signals when users visit sites having expired SSL certificates, which can be annoying.
  • The site is susceptible to identity theft, and MiTM (man-in-middle) attacks since compromised SSL security.

Actual Examples of Damages Caused by Expired SSL Certificates:

  • In January 2019, Netcraft stated that approximately 80 SSL certificates that the U.S. government was using were expired during the federal shutdown. It caused dozens of sensitive government sites to break down by either being vulnerable or non-reachable.
  • In December 2018, an expired SSL certificate caused an interruption to Ericsson Cellular. The result was the inability to call or text by millions of people using Ericsson network services.
  • In 2017, an expired SSL certificate was responsible for the Equifax data breach, which went unnoticed for more than 2 months (76 days). It led to the data leak of millions of users.

How to Check the Validity of SSL Certificates?

It’s vital to keep an eye on the certificate validity period and renew it before expiration to prevent such outages and damages.

The expiry date is stated in the SSL certificate, and it is visible when clicked on the padlock.

Steps:

  • In the address bar > click on the padlock.
  • The dropdown menu will be visible. Click on Connection Secure > Go to More Information.
  • Click the Security menu, and you will notice the certificate’s expiry date.

check the validity of ssl certificates

What Happens when the SSL Certificate Expires?

SSL secured sites go through the SSL handshake process, which the server initiates when a visitor tries to establish a connection with the website. Here the site’s server shows the SSL certificate to the user’s browser, which will authenticate the certificate to begin an encrypted communication.

For authentication, the browser verifies the expiry dates of the certificate. If the SSL certificate is expired, the browser will not validate the server and display a warning alert to the user stating that the connection is unsecured.

With the rise in cyber-crime, users take these warning alerts seriously and abandon sites showing warning alerts.

The best way to resolve this issue is to obtain a new certificate from CheapSSLShop.com and replace the expired one.

Cons of Expired SSL Certificate:

  • Your website will be deprived of HTTPS (hyper-text transfer protocol secure).
  • Warning alert “Not Secure” will be displayed when a user tries to open your site.
  • The encrypted communication tunnel will be ineffective, and hence the customer communication will be unsecured.
  • The site visitors may face a lack of authentication of identity.
  • MiTM attacks may be successful, making you lose out on business and money.
  • Customer trust will be broken and tarnish your brand reputation.
  • Lack of SSL security may make your site lose out on SEO.

How to Avoid Expiry of SSL Certificate?

Since the consequences of the expiry of SSL certificates are damaging for business, let’s discuss ways to avoid such situations.

  • Genuine certificate providers always send email reminders in advance to site owners before the certificate expiry dates. Since enough renewal time is given to fix the issue, it’s wise to renew and secure your site rather than delay and wait for the consequences.
  • Constantly update your email and contact details with your certificate provider in case of any changes. Check your mails regularly so that the notice for the renewal regarding the same is attended to and implemented on time.
  • Keep a note on all your certificates, their renewal dates, and other details to prevent any disruptions in business.

Process of New Purchase/Renewal of SSL Certificate:

  • In purchasing an SSL certificate, Login to your SSL provider’s account and choose your desired certificate by clicking on “Buy Now”.
  • In case of renewal of the existing one, click on “Renew Now”. Renewal and new purchases are the same.
  • Fill in the website details required in the purchase form and click “Continue” later.
  • Pay for the same, create CSR and submit to the provider, complete the configuration process, and complete the domain validation process. After successful validation from your CA, install the same on your site on receiving your certificate.

Wrapping Up:

Browsers insist on decreasing the span of SSL certificates nowadays. The shorter the span of credentials, the better security they offer.

Apart from strong authentication, technical changes can be implemented easily when the SSL lifespan is less.

The introduction of new hashing algorithms and updates on other technical security patches can be quickly implemented in shorter spans rather than waiting for a year or more before the certificate expires. So, what are you waiting for? Go and grab one now from CheapSSLShop.

CheapSSLShop is a very budget-friendly SSL certificate provider offering these digital securities at nominal rates.

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