A recent research report by Netcraft showed that over 200 SSL certificates expired following the US government shutdown. What would happen if my SSL certificate expired has since been a common question that has been asked by those who have had a close interaction with SSL certificates. Today we give answers and clear the air over what happens afterthe expiration of SSL certificates.
We will use two approaches to answer this question. First, we will explain what happens when an SSL certificate expires from a technical point of view. Secondly, this article will explain the consequences of an expired SSL certificate to the website owner and the website user. The consequences can be devastating. So read on to find out more! The article will also shade light on what exactly you should do to prevent your SSL certificate from expiring.
Why Do SSL Certificates Expire?
There are two major reasons as to why SSL certificates expire. The first is that the body that regulates the SSL certificates industry, called the CA/Browser forum, recommends shorter periods of validity because the websites with SSL certificates need to undergo regular validations. The second reason isbecause of the continuous release of updated cryptographic standards and the daily advancements in technology as well new vulnerabilities come up. It takes time to roll out new updated standards.
What Happens When an SSL Certificate expire- The Technical Approach
A website that has a properly installed SSL certificate will have the website’s server engage in an SSL handshake when a visitor wants to make a connection. During this process, the browser of the user will be presented with the SSL certificate of the website. The browser will have to authenticate the SSL certificate so as to complete the handshake.
For the authentication process to successfully take place, the SSL certificate is required to be within the validity period. Failure to which the authentication process will not take place. For that reason, SSL certificates must have the date of issue and the date of expiry that is usually coded in the certificate. The browser will use the expiry date to determine whether the SSL certificate is still valid or has expired.
If the SSL certificate has surpassed the expiry date, it means that the browser will not be able to validate the server. A browser error will appear as ‘Your connection is not secure’. The error will block all your website visitors from accessing the website.
What Happens When an SSL Certificate expire- The Consequences Approach
An expired SSL certificate can have severe consequences to both the website owner and the website user. The consequences are explained below;
- Reduction In Trust As The Website Will Become Less Secure
A perfectly functioning SSL certificate creates some level of trust between your website visitors and your company. People give high value to their information and they will prefer the information to stay secure, far away from the reach of cyber attackers. An SSL certificate offers assurance to your web visitors that the information they are sending and receiving from your website is fully encrypted and thus secure. An expired SSL certificate demolishes the trust of the web visitors to your website. They will become paranoid about sending and receiving information from your website.
- An Expired SSL Certificate Can Dwindle Your Corporate Brand and Decrease Your Reputation
One of the key pillars for a successful business is the business brand. A robust brand includes establishing trust but goes way beyond that. You will have to protect your brand or you will suffer the consequences.An expired SSL certificate can invite attacks that ruin the reputation of your business and demolishes the business brand. An expired SSL certificate will invite high profile data breaches and dangerous cyberattacks that can bring the whole business to its knees. Such kind of incidences will have a major impact on the brand of the business at large.
- An Expired SSL Certificate Will Lead To a Decline In Sales and Revenue
Now that your reputation has been negatively affected, your corporate brand has faded away and your customers no longer trust your website, what follows next is a decline in the sales and revenues. All because of an expired SSL certificate.
- Display Warnings Will Drive Away website Visitors
A warning message appearing as ‘Your connection is not secure’ will be displayed by browsers whenever web visitors attempt to access your website when an SSL certificate has expired. Such warnings can have a huge impact on your websites bounce rate. You will lose a good web visitor’s base and this can impact your website negatively.
- Possible Man In The Middle Attacks
A Man in the Middle attacks is common where an SSL certificate has expired. It is a type of an attack where a cyber intruder creates an interference between the server and the browser. The intruder will maliciously alter the communication so that to benefit him or lead to massive losses. Where an SSL certificate has expired, an intruder can successfully access all the information travelling between the web server and the client. This might have severe consequences to the website.
- Down-ranking of Your Website in Search engines
A website on which the SSL certificate has expired will have low rankings in the Search Engine Results Page. Google encourages all websites to have an SSL certificate. Websites with SSL certificates are usually ranked higher on the results page than those without SSL certificates or those to which the SSL certificate has expired. Where the SSL certificate on your website has expired, there are possibilities that your website will be ranked as insecure by google and marked as an untrustworthy website.
- Misuse of Data By Hackers
When the SSL certificate on the website has expired, it means that hackers can easily intercept all the data in transit and use it for their own reasons. This can lead to leakage of confidential personal information, important customer details and payment details. Hackers accessing such vital data can have catastrophic impacts to the business.
What to Do If SSL Certificate Expires
As already seen, the consequences of an expired SSL certificate are so severe. The question that should be on your mind right now is what to do when an SSL certificate expires. The answer is simple. Get an SSL from a company that will provide you with an alert when your SSL certificate is about to expire. For example SSL2BUY will provide you with such an alert, before the expiry date. So you will not have to wait until the expiry of the SSL certificate, you can plan in advance to acquire a new SSL certificate. Moreover, you can get discount on early renewals too.
To Sum Up,
The question of what exactly happens when an SSL certificate expires has been one of great concern to website owners who interact with SSL certificates. This question has been dealt with exhaustively in this article. You now understand the devastating impacts that an expired SSL certificate brings forth. This is why you need to have prior plans before the expiry date.