SSL Certificate Errors & Tips
What is an SSL certificate?
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a standard security protocol that allows for encrypted communication between a client (web browser) and a server (webserver). The successor protocol of SSL is Transport Layer Security (TLS).
SSL certificates are data files that the server stores and uses to enable SSL encryption. They contain the public key and identity of the server. SSL certificates are digital certificates issued by a legal third-party Certificate Authority that confirm the identity of the certificate owner.
Why do you need an SSL certificate?
SSL encrypts data between the client and the server, keeping sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and payment cards safe.
A browser uses an SSL certificate to validate a website’s authenticity. SSL certificates ensure that you are the website’s legitimate and confirmed owner.
What is an SSL certificate error?
The web server returns a list of SSL certificates to validate its identity when the browser connects to your secure website. The browser will only show the user the website if all the checks pass.
When the browser is unable to verify the SSL certificates given by the server, an SSL certificate error occurs. When an error occurs, the browser bans the website and alerts the user that it is untrustworthy, as shown below.
Types of SSL Certificate Errors: Causes & How to fix them
SSL certificate issues can result from several factors. The most prevalent forms of SSL problems and how to avoid or cure them are as follows:
1. Certificate has expired
SSL certificate errors are mostly caused by this. This error indicates that the SSL certificate’s validity time has expired. Every certificate has an expiration date. Certificates that are out of date will be rejected by the client. Validity periods are normally one year in length. As a result, it’s simple to forget to renew certificates before they expire.
The browser checks the expiration of all certificates in your chain (leaf, intermediate, and root). Both the leaf and intermediate certificates should not be expired. This can also happen if the time on the browser machine is off.
Fix: Replace your web server’s SSL certificates with new, valid certificates. Contact our sales team to assist you with any SSL certificate purchasing queries
Tip: To prevent errors due to expired certificates, make sure you monitor the SSL certificate expiry time and update the certificates before they expire.
2. Certificate of Inactivity
When the browser obtains an SSL certificate whose validity term has not yet begun, the inactive certificate error occurs. Nowadays, it’s typical to use a certificate manager to keep track of your server’s certificates. The new certificates will be automatically deployed by the manager, and their validity term will begin when they are deployed. The client will reject the certificate if the client machine’s time is 5 minutes late owing to misconfiguration or other factors. When the client machine’s time is out of sync, this is most typical with API clients.
Fix: Replace the SSL certificate with a fresh one that has a valid start time. Ascertain that the client’s clock is in sync with the server’s.
Tip: Check the validity start time before deploying the certificate in the server to avoid installing certificates that are not yet active.
3. Incomplete Hostname
This issue means that the website’s hostname is missing from the certificate. The browser verifies that it is communicating with the correct server to avoid man-in-the-middle attacks. The browser compares the website’s hostname to the list of hostnames in the leaf certificate. If there is no match, the client will presume it is communicating with the incorrect server, reject the certificate, and terminate the session. The common name and subjectAltName (SAN) sections of the leaf certificate provide the hostname information.
Fix: When reusing a certificate across many websites or subdomains, double-check that the certificates cover all of the websites’ domain names.
Tip: To cover all of your subdomains, use a wildcard certificate, or a SAN certificate to cover multiple hostnames. Visit Wildcard SSL Certificates – Staring from 150$/Year and purchase a wildcard certificate
4. Untrustworthy Certificate Authority
When the browser cannot identify any locally trusted root certificates while building the SSL Chain of Trust, it will not trust the server’s certificate. Because the browser cannot trust self-signed certificates, they will likewise cause this problem.
Fix: If you want to utilize a self-signed certificate on your website, add it to the browser’s trust store manually.
Tip: To avoid this, make sure you purchase your certificates from a trustworthy certificate authority. Prima Secure, is an authorized IT partner for some of the most well-known brands on the market, offering EV, OV, DV, Multi-domain, and Wildcard SSL certificates.
5.Invalid/ Incomplete Certificate Chain
When the browser is unable to build a legitimate chain of trust between your browser’s certificates and the list of trusted root certificates, the invalid or incomplete certificate chain error occurs.
When the browser receives the certificates from the server, it begins chaining them until it reaches one of the trusted root certificates. It will attempt to construct an SSL Chain of Trust, which is an ordered set of certificates that allows the browser to verify that the website’s server and certificate authority are reliable. If the browser is unable to create the chain for your certificates, such as because intermediate certificates are
Fix: Set up your webserver to return the leaf certificate as well as all intermediate certificates.
Tip: Always deploy the leaf and all intermediate certificates in your server to avoid certificate chain errors caused by missing intermediate certificates.